Summary: A sermon introducing a series on Ecclesiastes; this is part two of two part sermon; part one in the morning is Says the Teacher Everything is Meaningless (Outline and material adapted from Derek Kidner's book, The Wisdom of Proverbs, Job and Ecc.)
“In the beginning, God created the earth, and he looked upon it in his cosmic loneliness. And God said, "Let Us make living creatures out of mud, so the mud can see what We have done." And God created every living creature that now moveth, and one was man. Mud as man alone could speak. God leaned close to mud as man sat, looked around, and spoke. "What is the purpose of all this?" he asked politely. "Everything must have a purpose?" asked God. "Certainly," said man."Then I leave it to you to think of one for all this," said God. And He went away.” ― Kurt Vonnegut,
You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have The Facts of Life, the Facts of Life. There's a time you got to go and show You're growin' now you know about The Facts of Life, the Facts of Life. When the world never seems to be livin up to your dreams And suddenly you're finding out the Facts of Life are all about you, you. It takes a lot to get 'em right When you're learning the Facts of Life.
Thesis: In a survey, summary fashion let’s go over Solomon’s facts of life from Ecclesiastes; these are the "goad" passages
Pointers to despair
The ceaseless round
In 1:2-11 there is a comparison between the cycle of nature and the history of man. Now this is not the view of history where it is a complete circle and history will continue to repeat itself again and again without end. But we see generations coming and going without any apparent purpose; each working for what cannot last or satisfy, eventually to fade from memory. Coming generations do not learn from previous generations and they are all the same. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it and no generation learns so all are doomed.
The fruitless search
In 1:12-2:24 we see that Solomon searched out the meaning of life from several areas that are not possible to search out for other men. He was in a unique position to indulge in pleasures and seek out knowledge and wisdom. Through his massive labor force he was also able to engage in building projects beyond compare. All of these things did not satisfy him. Vs. 17- So I hated life
The puzzling pattern of life
In 3:1-8 speaks of a time for this and that. Summary is vs. 9- for it is evident that we spend our days going back and forth in a pattern that we did not choose or ever fully understand, busy now with one thing, now with something else. OUr chances of seizing the right moment, or reaching a goal, or securing what we gain, are always overcome with uncertainty. Vs. 11 says that we cannot fathom all of this or ever completely seize the day.
Vs. 16 mentions that there is never justice in this life. Life is not fair.
The unmanageable: Misrule, mischance and mortality
Misrule- In 4:1-3 we see that Solomon has anguish for the tears of the oppressed. Solomon also has a sense of helplessness in the face of bureaucracy (5:8) and all degrees of tyranny where “man lords it over others to his own hurt.” Kings and officials have their uses but nothing is certain at this high level, and a land may find itself at any moment in the hands of fools and upstarts, the weak and the depraved (10:5-6, 16). Political uncertainty is the norm.
Mischance- Ecclesiastes 9:11-12 is the best verse. Also wealth “lost through some misfortune” (5:14), or wealth gained but not enjoyed (6:2). 8:14 is another good verse.
Mortality (death)- “No man has power over the wind to contain it; so no-one has power over the day of his death.” Ecclesiastes 8:8, NIV. Death comes to all (2:15-16). Whatever success a person may enjoy, his journey starts out naked and ends naked (5:15-16). J. S. Whale said, “If death means that all is over and there is nothing more, it is life which is pervaded with tragic irrationality. Every column in the great human ledger book adds up to precisely the same result, Zero.”
Transition: These are the goad passages that lead us to despair and hopelessness. No, there has to be more. The more is God. Ecclesiastes has much to say about God.
Thesis: What does Ecclesiastes say about God, the nail passages given by one Shepherd (12:11)?
God is Our Creator
“Remember your Creator in the days of your youth” Ecclesiastes 12:1, NIV.
Ecclesiastes in line with the rest of bible grounds all existence in God. Look up 11:5; 12:7.
God appoints for everything its proper season. 3:11
God made man upright in the beginning; 7:29. God cannot be blamed for man’s corruption