Summary: 20th and final message from a series on Ecclesiastes. Like Jesus, Qoheleth was committed to making disicples.
When we began our journey through Ecclesiastes back on January 4, I introduced our study with a quote from the “Author’s Note” in the book Blue Like Jazz, written by Donald Miller:
I never liked jazz music because jazz music doesn’t resolve. But I was outside the Bagdad Theater in Portland one night when I saw a man playing the saxophone. I stood there for fifteen minutes, and he never opened his eyes. After that I liked jazz music. Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way. I used to not like God because God doesn’t resolve. But that was before any of this happened.
After nearly seven months of examining the words of Qoheleth, the author of Ecclesiastes, I’m even more convinced just how much Miller’s thoughts paint a great picture of the book. Because, more than anything, the book of Ecclesiastes reflects the fact that, at least in our minds, God doesn’t resolve. When we look at the world around us, the world that Qoheleth refers to as life “under the sun”, we find very quickly that there is so much that doesn’t seem to make sense. And if we try to formulate our ideas about God from what we observe, rather than from His Word, we will come to some very wrong conclusions about the nature of God.
But as we’ve discovered, Qoheleth lived in a world that was not altogether different from the one we live in today. In fact, I’ve been amazed at how much of what he has written could have very well been written right here in the United States at this present time. And although it has taken some diligent study to sort it all out, we find, that just as Paul promised in his letter to Timothy, all Scripture is indeed profitable, including this often ignored book. I know that the book has had a very significant impact on my life and I pray that it has done the same for you.
Let’s stand together and read the last six verses of the book that will serve as our text this morning:
9 And moreover, because the Preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yes, he pondered and sought out and set in order many proverbs. 10 The Preacher sought to find acceptable words; and what was written was upright - words of truth. 11 The words of the wise are like goads, and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd. 12 And further, my son, be admonished by these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh. 13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all. 14 For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.
Ecclesiastes 12:9-14 (NKJV)
As we’ve gone through the Book of Ecclesiastes, I’ve often wondered – what is the point of all of this? At times, the words on the pages seem like nothing more than the rantings and ravings of a madman. Sure, there are some very practical principles for us to follow. And the overall theme - that we are to be grateful for God’s gifts to us and to enjoy them in our life here on earth - is important. But why does Qoheleth take the time to write down all that he ponders? And why is this book part of God’s Word?
But the more that I read through this passage this week, the more I began to see that the concluding words of Qoheleth bear some striking similarities to the words of Jesus that close the gospel of Matthew. Let’s read that familiar passage out loud together:
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Matthew 28:19, 20 (NIV)
The somewhat surprising, at least to me, answer to some of my questions is this: just like Jesus, Qoheleth had a great interest in making disciples. And so all that he has written in this book is not primarily for his benefit, but instead he has wrestled with some of the things that we often wrestle with so that he can take the fruit of all his hard work and share it with others, so that they might be better able to live the life that God desires for each of them.
This ought to be of tremendous interest to all of us since, as we have clearly seen from Jesus’ own words, all of us who are His followers are responsible for making disciples. That is the sole mission of this church and of every member of this body.