BOOK OF ECCLESIASTE
The words of the Preacher
(Bro. Greg Misko Sr.- North Industry)

 Wherever Scripture uses the
phrase “the words of “ the purpose is to speak words
that express strong disapproval.
The strong disapproval with “ Vanity of vanities,
all is vanity. Everything is vanity, and endless
repetition can be seen in both nature and man.
This is a strong contrast to many of the phrases we
read , say in the Book of Psalms.
For instance, “ The LORD is my shepherd I shall not
want” and “ The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?”
The word vanity occurs six times in the first
chapter, how fitting is that, six being the number of
man.
Even though the Book of Ecclesiastes , at first sight
, is not the most upbeat or optimistic book.
Fundamentally its teachings are know different than
the messages of the other books of the Bible.
It contains the same message as the rest of the
Scriptures. What makes it appear different than the
other books of the Bible is the point of view that is
presented to us.
The term “ The Preacher may mean “ one who speaks to
an assembly “ or “ one who assembles”.
In verse 12 of chapter 1 we are told that the
preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem.” It would
appear that the author of Ecclesiastes is King
Solomon. And that he gave his heart to search and
to seek out wisdom concerning all things that are
done under heaven.
The writer seems to be writing about all his past
experiences and realizing that many of the things he
has done amount to nothing more than vanity and
vexation of Spirit.

Chapter 2, verses 9 to 11: v 9 “So I became great
and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem;
also my wisdom remained with me.”
King Solomon when he became king over God’s people
considered himself as a little child and asks God to
give him an understanding heart to judge The LORD’s
people.
We read in 2 Chron. 1:10 “ Give me now wisdom and
knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this
people, for who can rule this great people of Yours:
This was pleasing to God and He gave Solomon the
wisdom that he requested to be able to judge between
good and evil.

Verse 10 and 11 of ch 2 go on to say:
And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from
them; I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart
found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward
for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands
had done and the toil I had spent in doing it, and
behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and
there was nothing to be gained under the sun.”
Looking back on his life, the king realizes that even
though he has worked very hard for worldly things he
must leave it to the man (more than likely a son) who
will come after him, and who knows whether he will be
a wise man or a fool.
Perhaps this accounts for the melancholy mood that
permeates through out Ecclesiastes.
The king knows that he has put a lot of work and
planning into basically nothing .


This brings to mind Matthew chapter 6, verses 19 -21:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break
in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in
heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where
thieves do not break in and steal. For where your
treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Christ told us that expressly, and the Preacher of
Ecclesiastes tells us exactly the same thing, based on
his own experience.
The words that Christ spoke here in Matt. summarizes
one of the main themes of Ecclesiastes, and we will
return to it towards the end of this exhortation , so
lets hold this thought for the moment.

There are many other themes and ideas in Ecclesiastes
that occur elsewhere in the Bible. It would be helpful
to turn to Ecclesiastes chapter 3 verse 14.

“ I know that whatever God does endures for ever;
nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from
it; God has made it so, in order that men should fear
before him.”

That is in clear contrast to what Ecclesiastes says
about the works of man, isn't it? What man does is
“vanity and vexation of spirit.” What God does is
everlasting and indestructible. As Psalm 111 says:

“ Full of honor and majesty is His work, and His
righteousness endures for ever”.

In Ecclesiastes ch. 1 verse 15 is possibly one of the
most difficult verses to understand. "What is crooked
cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be
numbered."





When we consider this passage in context it is
actually a much more positive statement that it seems
to be when you look at it on its own.
Ecclesiastes ch.3:1-8, tells us that there is a time
for everything, and verse 17 in particular says God
will judge the righteous and the wicked, for he has
appointed a time for every matter, and for every work.
“ I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous
and the wicked: for there is a time there for every
purpose and for every work.”

The world is in a terrible state. Everywhere we look
there is some terrible problem of some sort or other.
We can't really do anything about most of them, and it
is very easy to be distressed about theft, murder,
ethnic cleansing, and immorality of all kinds.

Ecclesiastes is saying, in effect, there are these
problems, and we can’t sort them out on our own. We
should not worry or spend a lot of time dwelling on
them : God rules in the kingdom of men and will sort
everything out in His own time. That doesn't mean that
we can ignore those that are in need of our
assistance in times of difficulty. We shouldn't be
distressed if our efforts, humanly speaking, seem to
be completely futile.

In conjunction with the rest of the Bible,
Ecclesiastes is opposed to worldliness. Chapter 4
verse 6 says ,

"Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full
of toil and a striving after wind." Striving after
wind is the way the RSV translates vexation of
spirit.”

This is echoed in 1 Timothy chapter 6 verses 6 to 8:

“There is great gain in godliness with contentment;
for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot
take anything out of the world; but if we have food
and clothing, with these we shall be content.”
This brings us back to Matthew 6:19 again, doesn't
it?
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break
in and steal.”

Every once in a while we may run across a survey in a
magazine that focuses on money. The writer of the
survey tried to find if there was any relationship
between the amount of money a person earned and how
happy they were. They were expecting to find that
people on very high incomes would be very stressed,
and consequently unhappy, and that people on very low
incomes would also be stressed and unhappy, with the
happiest people being the comfortably off, those who
could afford frequent vacations and nice cars, but
were not in the high stress jobs that bring in the
high salaries.

What they actually found was quite different. The
people who were happiest on average were actually
those who earned just sufficient money to feed, clothe
and house themselves and their dependents. The theory
was that the more money a person has, the more they
want, and the less happiness they experience.

“If we have food and clothing, with these we shall be
content”

“ Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full
of toil and a striving after wind.”

It can be tempting sometimes to chase after a more
elaborate lifestyle, to go for the higher paying job,
or whatever. We know that as followers of Christ we
shouldn’t go after these things, but sometimes it is
difficult to see why. More money doesn't make us
happier and that is why we are not supposed to be
materialistic.

Ecclesiastes 5 verse 10 puts this very accurately .
“He who loves money will not be satisfied with money;
nor he who loves wealth, with gain: this also is
vanity”.

Ecclesiastes also deals with the importance of
fellowship, particularly the benefits of fellowship
during difficult times. Chapter 4 verses 9 to 12:

“Two are better than one, because they have a good
reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift
up his fellow; but woe to him who is alone when he
falls and has not another to lift him up. Again, if
two lie together, they are warm; but how can one be
warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one
who is alone, two will withstand him. A threefold cord
is not quickly broken.”
These are beautiful metaphors.
If we happen to be with somebody, and we fall, they
are able to help us up. Also , when we are in an
ecclesia and we have difficulty, the other members of
the ecclesia will support us.
A problem that might defeat us otherwise is easily
solved when there is mutual support.



Despite what we might first think Ecclesiastes
isn't a depressing book. It is advice about how and
why one is to follow God’s instruction, and it is
given by someone who ignored that instruction and
realized that everything outside God’s way is vanity
and vexation of spirit.

Before I talk about what I feel is the ultimate
message of Ecclesiastes I want to consider vanity and
vexation of spirit and Matthew 6, verses 19 to 33:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break
in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in
heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where
thieves do not break in and steal. For where your
treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Let’s now go to verse 25:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life,
what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what
you will wear. Is not life more important than food,
and the body more important than clothes? Look at the
birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store
away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds
them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of
you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the
lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.
Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his
splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how
God clothes the grass of the field, which is here
today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he
not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So
do not worry, saying, `What shall we eat?' or `What
shall we drink?' or `What shall we wear?'

For the pagans run after all these things, and your
heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek
first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these
things will be given to you as well.”
Isn’t it interesting to find Solomon in all his
splendor , mentioned in this context?
Life is short , it is like a vapor that quickly
dissipates into the air to be seen no more . If we
don’t want this to be a permeant condition for us,
then we must ask the question.
How can we avoid “vanity and vexation of spirit ?”

The first thing that comes to mind is to seek the
kingdom of God and remember that He is looking after
each one of us.
In addition, it is important to follow God’s
instruction, in doing so we will have little to worry
about.
We won’t find this stated anywhere written
specifically in Ecclesiastes, but the idea is conveyed
within its pages.
If we are content to live outside of God’s instruction
which leads to “vanity and vexation of spirit”, then
it stands to reason that living within God’s
instruction must help avoid it.

So what is the ultimate message to be found in
Ecclesiastes?
If we would turn to the final two verses of the final
chapter, chapter 12 verses 13 and 14:
We will read the thoughts of the king of Jerusalem ,
and all his experiences of the summation of his life.

“ Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the
whole duty of man. For God will bring every work into
judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or
evil.”
In Deuteronomy ch. 6: 4,5 we read;

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD; and
you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart,
and with all your soul, and with all your might.”
Also in Mark ch. 12, Jesus was asked by one of the
scribes, “ Which commandment is first of all?” His
reply;

"The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O
Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and thou
shalt love the Lord your God with all your heart, and
with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with
all your strength. And the second is this, 'You shall
love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other
commandment greater than these."
Jesus was the ultimate example of both these
commandments when he laid down his life. What greater
love could he have shown in doing his Father’s will.
Every thing he did , he did to please his Father, even
to the point of laying down his life. We are reminded
in the emblems before us that he loved his neighbors
so much that he laid his life down willingly for us.





 

Greg Misko Sr. North Industry



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