Summary: Using the criticisms of the disillusioned church goer in Ecclesiastes, this message presents how Christians can grow as individuals and as a church.
Ecc 5:1-7 (ESV) Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. (2) Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. (3) For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words. (4) When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. (5) It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. (6) Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands? (7) For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear.
An “Under the Sun” View of Church
The Teacher of Ecclesiastes is somebody who grew up going to the temple and is now disillusioned. He knows enough about what goes on in the temple to comment, but he is not committed to anything that is not “under the sun.”
The modern day equivalent is someone who has been:
Maybe made a commitment
He is convinced there is a God (like 90% of USA), and He is mighty and powerful, Picks up the fear component. He questions God’s goodness as we have seen before with God has given us tasks to frustrate us and contentment cannot be found, and we are powerless to find truth. Skeptic
He does not talk much about a relationship with God, because he has not seen much
Hypocrisy- one of the number one thing that keeps people away from church and faith. People want something genuine. Sometimes just an excuse, but we give many reasons.
The World is watching, and many times they are not impressed. New book “They Like Jesus, but Not the Church”
Complaints about church goers
I) We Come Out of Obligation Instead of Expectation
Verse 1- “Guard your steps” equivalent to “Watch your step”- God guards his earthly threshold “Lev 15:31 "Thus you shall keep the people of Israel separate from their uncleanness, lest they die in their uncleanness by defiling my tabernacle that is in their midst."
The Teacher knows the demands of God for purity and fears for those who take entrance into the temple lightly.
In the Teacher’s day, no one was able to enter the Holy of Holies, but since we are given access now by the blood of Jesus, we have a privilege that of which all OT believers would be jealous. Do you treat this privilege lightly?
Heb 10:19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,
Heb 10:22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
What is your purpose for coming today? Do you know who God is and what he has done? Are you serious about it? Are you expecting God to work in your life? Are you here to serve Him and others? Or are you here going through the motions.
Rev 1:20 As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
Jesus is present at church- do we come expecting?
2Ch 16:9 For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him. You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars."
Activity on our part
“Guard,” “Go,” “Draw near,” “Listen”
The teacher criticizes those who attend the temple or church that they should be active and not passive. He is right in saying that we should be active, but wrong in his reason for desiring it.
Jas 4:8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Heb 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
This is in contrast to putting on a show- acting the part, but no heart
“Fear God”- fright before a powerful and dangerous being- (Longman 36)