Summary: Searching for the answer to the age old question, "Is life worth living?"
A Study of the Book of Ecclesiastes:
Finding Satisfaction In Life
Sermon # 4
“I Hate Life!”
The man who wrote Ecclesiastes called himself Koheleth because he saw his calling life to gather God’s people for instruction. Today we would call him “the Preacher” or since he identifies himself as the king of Jerusalem – the Preacher-King. Although he never succinctly identifies himself by giving his name he hid wealth and wisdom seems to identify him as King Solomon At first the Preacher thought that the pursuit of wisdom would give him the answers he sought (1:12-15). Failing in that he pursued pleasure (2:1-11). But after finding that sensual pleasures would not produce lasting happiness, maybe a change in direction would. So it says in verse twelve “then I turned” in other words “I decided to turn in another direction.” He now turns in search of happiness in a new direction. But still he searches to answer the old, old, question, “Is life worth living?”
Even great men of God have found themselves frustrated by life, even to the point of wanting to die, Job did (Job 3:21-7:15), Elijah did (1 Kings 19:4), Moses (Num. 11:15) and Jonah (Jonah 4:3) but each of them later changed their minds. Charles Swindoll says, “How many there are who appear to be suave, stable, and successful but who, down inside, are dreadfully frus-trated! The term ‘Frustrated’ comes from the Latin frusta, which mean ‘in vain.’ In other words, one who is ‘frustrated’ feels that all he does is void of purpose.” [Charles Swindoll. “Living On The Ragged Edge: Coming To Terms With Reality.” (Waco, TX: Word Pub., 1985) p. 54]
Solomon now tries wisdom and work, or in modern parlance – getting an education and getting things done – our equivalent would be getting a degree and getting a job.
First, Wisdom and Death. (2:12-17) No Protection against Death.
• Death is a Certainty.
I did one of those online things that is supposed to tell us how long we are going to live. Mine came back that I would live to be sixty-eight. Given that I am sixty-three now that was not heartwarming news. But whether we like it or not death is a certainty for everyone; some sooner and some later.
• Biblical view of death:
“Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.”- Hebrews 9:27
Life is a mist that “appears for a little while and then vanishes.” – James 4:13-15
"Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned" - Romans 5:12
The work of Christ has completely altered the meaning of death for the Christian, so much so that we cannot consider it as the same experience as that of the unbeliever. Of course, the physiological aspect may be the same, and the souls of both groups continue to exist after the bodies have expired. But from the point of conversion, death has been robbed of its sting and
power in the mind of the believer (1 Cor. 15:54-55), so that his entire perspective and purpose for the rest of his life is no longer subject to or governed by the fear of death, as is the case with unbelievers. His life takes on real and lasting value, and his priorities and expect-ations have been altered. All this can only occur if death is no longer perceived as final or damning; otherwise,
everything that we do remains meaningless and futile.
Since both the wise man and the fool die, what is the value of wisdom? (contrast with what he said earlier when he wrote Proverbs, “The LORD will not allow the righteous soul to famish, But He casts away the desire of the wicked…. (7) The memory of the righteous is blessed, But the name of the wicked will rot… (27) The fear of the LORD prolongs days, But the years of the wicked will be shortened… (30) The righteous will never be removed, But the wicked will not inhabit the earth.” (Proverbs 10:3, 7, 27, 30)
Yet how many times do we as believers fail to heed our own advice, given to others. Solomon now seems to have taken his eyes off of God and sees no difference in the death of a wise man and a fool, both die.
In verse twelve he says, “Then I turned myself to consider wisdom and madness and folly;”
“Madness and folly go together. The Preacher is not describing three different categories but only two. On the one hand there is ‘wisdom,’ which is used here in its most general sense to refer to human thinking at its very best…simply good moral, practice advice for daily life that comes from people like Benjamin Franklin, Emily Post, Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Phil.