Day 163 – Thru the Bible
Today we begin Ecclesiastes. Here’s the overview video.
Video – Read Scripture: Ecclesiastes
How does this video help you understand the Book of Ecclesiastes better?
Ecclesiastes 1 – Due to the tyranny of time that erodes and replaces all that distinguishes human accomplishment, our work can be summarized as “nothing new” and nothing remembered. This blanket observation of the futility of human accomplishment makes the heart long for the stark contrast of Jesus’ work for, in, and through us that is new and will forever be remembered. When we come to believe in Jesus—partaking of the new covenant that gives new birth, new life, and a new commandment—we enter into a new workforce. Now, what we do matters, as it is done as an overflow of the gospel and for the glory of God (Matthew 25:40; 26:10–13). Our labor is not in vain (Psalm 112; 1 Corinthians 15:58).
“Vanity of vanities. . . . All is vanity” (Eccles. 1:2; 12:8). True—unless we work “as to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22; 6:7), united to His Son (1 Corinthians 15:58; Galatians 2:20).
Ecclesiastes was written to depress us into dependence on our joyous God and His blessed will for our lives. If we are attempting to live the “meaningful” secular life—a life “under the sun” without reference to God—we are attempting to grasp the unattainable. We are “striving after wind.” The only remedy to meaninglessness and the depression caused by a godless life is God. In reference to Himself, Jesus taught, “whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:35–36).
How do you remember to keep your work in its proper place and with a proper focus?
Ecclesiastes 2 – In contrast to this king’s self-indulgence that reflects the natural inclination of the human heart when unchecked, Jesus taught and embodied self-denial and loving service to others (John 13:3–14). Through the greatest act of humility, Jesus took the punishment for all our vainglorious desires and ungodly pleasures, so that through faith in this gospel (Philippians 1:27), we might clothe ourselves with all humility (Colossians 3:12), die to sin, and live to righteousness (1 Peter 2:24).
The despair in Ecclesiastes is due to God’s curse on creation, which most notably includes the reality of death. We are to be reminded that “The wages of sin is death” (Genesis 2:17; Romans 6:23a). Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we also know that death has lost its “sting,” that we have “victory through our Lord Jesus Christ,” that our “labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:55–58), and that someday Jesus, as Creator of all, will completely reconcile us to God (Colossians 1:15–20), reversing completely the curses of the fall (Romans 8:19–22). Thus we affirm with Paul, “to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21; 2 Corinthians 5:2), because, as Jesus said, “whoever believes in [Him], though he die, yet shall he live” (John 11:25; Romans 6:23b).
If we neglect God in our pursuit of joy, everything good in life—e.g., health, possessions, sensual pleasures—slips through our grasp or fails to satisfy. But if we see that what we have is God’s provision and give “thanks to God the Father”—ultimately through Jesus (Colossians 3:17)—for all His gifts, then whatever we receive from Him is seen as a gift that brings true joy—joy in God. In Jesus’ words, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6).
Understanding we still love under the consequences of the curse and our own sin, how does this reality check lead you closer to Jesus?
Ecclesiastes 3 – Verses 1-15 remind us that while God’s timing is not always ours, it is always best and sufficient for all that must occur in this fallen world. We are not necessarily faithless or cursed because at times we face the unpredictability of this life. Rather we face all that we must with the understanding that the God of grace will time all things as He knows is best. Jesus would also come in “the fullness of time” (Galatians 4:4–5) to fulfill God’s perfectly timed plan of salvation (Mark 1:15; John 7:30; 13:1; Romans 5:6). For Believers, the purpose of time is “to be conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29). Such conformity even rejoices in sufferings, knowing that all the moments of our lives “work together” for our good (Romans 8:28).
Ecclesiastes contains passages that despair over injustice, reminding us that this world, as it is, will not provide all that is needed to satisfy, correct, or justify. God must ultimately be the one to vindicate the righteous as well as punish the guilty, because we cannot finally depend on the justice of earthly judgments. As Jesus entrusted Himself “to Him who judges justly,” so we must “follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:19–23), longing for “when His glory is revealed”, and when, as the final judge, He will right every wrong (John 5:22; 1 Corinthians 4:4–5; 1 Peter 4:5).
How do you remember to trust God’s perfect timing in all things?
Ecclesiastes 4 – Here we are reminded of our need for relationships in a world where no earthly relationships are sure. Such verses reminds us that our Savior willingly identified with us in the loneliness of His passion: He was forsaken by Israel and by the Twelve. These same verses remind us of the preciousness of the Savior’s promise never to leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). They also remind us of the Believers necessity of community—for mission (Mark 6:7) and perseverance (Hebrews 10:25).
How do you enjoy community with other Believers?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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