Summary: This is my introduction to my sermon series on Ecclesiastes. It has a lot of history and background.
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Read Scripture Passage
1 These are the words of the Teacher, King David’s son, who ruled in Jerusalem.
Everything Is Meaningless
2 “Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!”
3 What do people get for all their hard work under the sun? 4 Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes. 5 The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again. 6 The wind blows south, and then turns north. Around and around it goes, blowing in circles. 7 Rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows out again to the sea. 8 Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.
9 History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. 10 Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!” But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new. 11 We don’t remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now.
That is the most depressing passage that I have ever started a sermon with. But this is how the book of Ecclesiastes starts out. Ecclesiasties is about searching for wisdom.
On a lighter side here are some things that wise people like me like to ponder:
1. Why is there a best before date on Sour Cream?
2. Where do forest rangers go to "get away from it all"?
3. Why are cigarettes sold in gas stations when smoking is prohibited there?
4. If a cow laughed, would milk come out her nose?
5. Why isn't phonetic spelled the way it sounds?
6. If olive oil comes from olives, where does baby oil come from?
7. Why do banks charge you a "in-sufficient funds fee" on money they already know you don't have?
8. Why do we wash bath towels? Aren't we clean when we use them?
9. If man evolved from monkeys and apes, why do we still have monkeys and apes?
10. And if Solomon was the wisest man to have ever lived, then why did he end out his life so poorly?
On that note: now is the time that I want to give you some historical background. Starting out I want to talk to you about authorship of the book of Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes is called a wisdom literature book. There are four books in the Bible that are called Wisdom Literature. They are Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Job, and Song of Solomon. Wisdom Literature is written if the goal in mind to get people to think outside of their normal ways of thought.
In the Old Testament times wisdom literature is was written with the intent to get people to think outside of the multi God pantheistic ideas that the god’s essentially hate humanity and we are doomed by fate.
The traditional author for the book of Ecclesiastes is King Solomon, that is King David’s son who was also remembered as the richest and most prosperous King in the history of Israel.
As it is with many of the books of the Bible and the rise of Liberalism scholars in the twentieth many theologians do not think that Solomon was the author. They say that Ecclesiastes is written by a man named Qoheleth, which means “Teacher in Hebrew.”
Interestingly there are very a few of the books of the Bible that scholars do not give the traditional authorship to. But however in the twentieth century we have been “enlightened” with critical thinking to realize that for 1900 years the church has been totally wrong.
Notice the strong hit of sarcasm in my voice.
Fortunately that pendulum has begun to swing back, as there are many new younger scholars who have asked the question, “How come the church was wrong for so long and it only got it right now?” With that in mind they have come to the conclusion that maybe there is something to be said about the original authorship.
I own three commentaries on the book of Ecclesiastes and I took out eight more from the Bethany College Library and only two of them say that Solomon was the author. Incidentally the two that say that he is the author is the oldest commentary and the newest commentary that I have.
I too believe that Solomon was the author of Ecclesiastes. Here is why. In the time of Solomon until the time of even Jesus there were groups of scholars who’s job was to write things down. In Jesus’ day they were called scribes. In Solomon’s day they were called court secretaries. In either case it was extremely rare for a king or a high official to write for himself. They had a professional do it.