Summary: A sermon on Ecclesiastes 5:1-7 focused on worship (Outline and material adapted from Sidney Greidanus in his book, Preaching Christ from Ecclesiastes, chapter 7 Worshiping in God's House, pg. 122- 136)
Philip Graham Ryken tells about a film clip that he saw, don’t know where he saw it so try to describe it. It portrays a family of four getting ready for church on a Sunday morning. Even though the viewer cannot hear what the family members are saying, it is not hard to read their lips, or at least their attitudes. They wake up grumpy and still sleepy. Dad stumbles over the laundry and kicks it out of the way. Older daughter argues with mom about she will (or will not) wear to church. Younger daughter spills her milk and cereal. Angry words are exchanged, especially when dad slams on the brakes while mom is trying to put on lipstick in the car. As they get ready for church, no one in the family smiles or exchanges even one friendly word. . . until they walk into church and it is time to put on a happy face. Mom and dad smile at the first people they meet. They take their places in the sanctuary with smiles on their faces. When they stand to sing the opening song, their eyes are closed in reverent adoration. As the film clip ends, the sound begins, and we can hear what they are singing: “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow.”
I am sure that Solomon often worshipped at the Temple that God allowed him to construct. Solomon dedicated the temple and Solomon worshipped there after it was completed.
Later on we find this: “As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. ” 1 Kings 11:4 NIV.
My thought is that Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes after turning back to the Lord before his death. But what happened in his worship of God from the dedication of the temple to his worshipping other gods? Did the worship of God somehow lose its luster for him?
Like many, did his eyes and mind stray? Did he begin to take his focus off of God and begin to focus on those who came to worship? Did the attitudes and actions of those who came to worship bother him? Maybe he began to notice that many people live two separate lives: in the temple the people looked so holy and righteous, outside the temple the people were ungodly and wicked. After seeing this for years, maybe he came to the conclusion that it didn’t matter whether he worshipped at the temple or worshipped foreign gods, it was all the same phony stuff. "Let me just please my wives because it doesn’t make any difference."
This is all speculation but we can see from chapter 5 how this could be. Many people fail to worship God with reverence, meaning to fear God, to stand in awe of God, to take God seriously. For many they come to church to do anything but worship God. Worshipping God is just a formality. It is not the main reason they are here.
Thesis: In what ways should we worship God with reverence?
Go to listen (Vs. 1)
This is not saying that we should say nothing, that we should not participate in the worship.
Notice how it begins, “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God.” Be careful when we go to worship. We are going to the house of God. Yes, things have changed from the OT to the NT and this building is not the house of God. However, when we come together in worship God is present in a special way. Jesus said, “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”” Matthew 18:20, NIV.
From vs. 1 let’s start with some secondary issues and then get to the main point. Two secondary issues involve “the sacrifice of fools”
Can refer to those who bring unacceptable sacrifices to God. Years later Malachi talked about this but I am sure it happened throughout the OT. “Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the LORD Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations.” Malachi 1:14, NIV. These people are not bringing their best that the Lord deserves.
Can refer to those who offered sacrifices thinking that the sacrifice itself would cancel out their sins without the need for repentance. The prophets often warned the people of Israel about this. Without repentance, a turning away from wrong and turning around to God with a desire to do His will, our worship is nothing but filthy rags and detestable to God and others.