Summary: It is painful to take an honest and complete look at life. We were meant for something better.
It’s Dark Without the Light!
(Ecclesiastes 3:16-4:8, 12:1, 7, 13-14)
1. A boy just attended his first wedding, and his friend asked him how many times a person can get married.
“Sixteen times,” said the boy. “I heard it with my own ears: 4 better, 4 worse, 4 richer, and 4 poorer. 4+4+4+4=16.
“Wow,” said his friend. “We better get married soon if we are supposed to get married that many times.”
2. If you don’t understand what is happening around you, it leads you to wrong conclusions.
3. In a way, Ecclesiastes looks at life apart from a limited perspective and shows where it leads, but then corrects our seemingly logical conclusions with special revelation from God.
4. Ecclesiastes 12:11 is the key that unlocks what Ecclesiastes is about: “The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd.”
• Explain what goad are
• Explain what a tent peg (nail) was (used as a hook)
5. The goads are painful truths we would do well to face, but find so easy to deny.
Main Idea: It is painful to take an honest and complete look at life. We were meant for something better.
I. Seeing the REALITIES of Life Apart from Special Revelation Can Easily Lead to Despair (3:16-4:8).
These are the “goads” that prod us to look further for meaning.
A. Trusting in GOVERNMENT will let you down (16-18).
1. Communists believed that a strong central government could force everyone to be treated fairly and equally.
2. But corruption and connections thwarted that dream.
B. SCIENCE can work wonders, but is ultimately limited in its domain (19-22).
1. science cannot really address the after-life; Science cannot support or contradict the existence of supernatural entities. It deals only with natural phenomena and explanations.
2. God has set eternity in our hearts (3:11), we instinctively know…
3. What is the difference whether you pet dog dies or a relative?
4. Some try to prove we live on via near-death experiences.
5. There are only two ways we can prove life beyond the grave: special revelation (God says so) or if someone rises from the dead (historical).
4. 2 Timothy 1:9-10, “who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel…”
C. SOCIAL conscience cannot prevent all abuse; every society is corrupted (4:1-3).
1. Some societies better than others, the quest for Utopia is a pipe dream.
2. People are oppressed, taken advantage of. (Reader’s Digest) North Korean woman escaped to China and then finally Mongolia…
3. In every society, we see victims who, through no fault of their own, live sub-standard lives.
4. Contemplating this, Solomon at times felt it would be better never to have existed.
5. Have you ever had times when wished you hadn’t been born? Jimmy Stewart plays George Bailey in, “It’s A Wonderful Life.”
D. Two Kinds of Extreme WORK ETHICS make a fool of a person (4-8).
1. The person who is out for POWER, status, success, winning (4-8)
• For some, they have to be the head honcho. For others, this translates to keeping up with the Joneses.
• A silly game no one can ultimately win.
• Chickens have a pecking order, but all used by Colonel Sanders.
• We need leaders, but not all leaders are power-mongers.
2. The person who is out for lots of MONEY and things money can buy (7-8)
• This person sacrifices relationships and life for money.
• He always wants more.
• But he cannot answer the “why” question.
3. BALANCED people have a lot more sense.
a. The fool is lazy and does nothing, but has more rest (time/energy).
b. The best strategy is work and rest (6)
c. Verse 6 is an important nail to hang onto.
It is painful to take an honest and complete look at life. We were meant for something better.
II. We Need to Fast Forward to Solomon’s Conclusions, the Big NAILS (12:1, 7, 13-14).
Since most of us do not read Ecclesiastes in one sitting, we can fail to understand where the author is going. In a sense, if we look at any passage of Ecclesiastes apart from its relationship to the whole book, we are taking it out of context.
A. Remember your CREATOR Now (12:1)
• Don’t make the mistake of waiting until you are old (Terri’s dad Chicago).
• Now is always the day of salvation.
B. God has revealed that there is LIFE after death (12:7, 13-14)