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Introduction to Ecclesiastes
03/17/2013
Scripture: Ecclesiastes 1:2; Ecclesiastes 1:11; Ecc...
Track 1 of 10 in the Pipe Dream series
Running time: 58 minutes, 11 seconds.
There was a man who once lived who had the time, had the money and had the energy to take such a journey we all would like to travel. He didnt take a mind trip but actually lived a life that allowed him to do what ever he wanted and at a pace he wanted to go. Because he was free to walk, and because no one was able to restrain him, he held nothing back. Thankfully he kept an accurate journal of all he did while on this journey. We have it today, the book of Ecclesiastes.



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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.


Introduction to Ecclesiastes

How many of you remember the country and western singer Glenn Campbell? He was known for several good songs back in the 70’s. One of his greatest hits was a song, “Gentile On My Mind”. Have you ever heard about it? It is about a man who longs to be free. He wants a life that is uncluttered with irritating things like binding contracts and lifelong commitments. He is glad to stop off for a night or two but he doesn’t want anyone to hassle him with talk of a permanent relationship.

Woven through the lyrics of this song is an interesting expression most of us can remember. He mentions it over and over again “the back roads of my memory” and that keeps things “gentle on my mind” In this song, the playboy cowboy is trying to shrug off all attempts form others to tie him down. He is on a search for another path, another pleasure…another back road that will somehow satisfy. The listener to the song gets the impression that he will never find what he is looking for.

Be honest, how many of you have thought it would be neat to someday take a long vacation and when you do it, you plan on taking all the back roads through the little towns and just take your time getting to where ever you are going? If you could do this, where would you like to go and why? How many of you think you will actually get to do it?

This is only one of the many fantasies we all have that sounds like a great alternative to the life we are now living. For others, there are other back roads in life they would like to pursue. But the times we live in don’t allow us to take the time and slow down and take life a little easier. The hard reality in life is quite the opposite.

Be honest, when you all go on vacation, how many of you take the highway and drive straight through in order to get there fast so you can start vacation fast? And when you get to your vacation spot, you spend every waking hour doing something in order to get it all in? How many back roads do you drive by on you fast pace vacation? That is if you take a vacation?

Why do we live in such a fast pace in life? What are we searching for that would cause us to run such a fast race?

There was a man who once lived who had the time, had the money and had the energy to take such a journey we all would like to travel. He didn’t take a mind trip but actually lived a life that allowed him to do what ever he wanted and at a pace he wanted to go. Because he was free to walk, and because no one was able to restrain him, he held nothing back. Thankfully he kept an accurate journal of all he did while on this journey. We have it today, the book of Ecclesiastes.

The man’s name is Solomon. Remember anything about him? The name of this book Ecclesiastes is a little strange. You don’t here words like that much today. It means “preacher” or “one who addresses an assembly”; in modern terms “Speaker of the House”. The house is symbolic for life itself. In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon speaks to all of us about life.

I have to warn you ahead of time that the journey Solomon took, while mind boggling, left him deflated, depressed, and disillusioned. The best word is empty…his favorite and most often expressed description of how he felt. In fact, his motto appears on the front of his journal…

VANITY OF VANITIES…ALL IS VANITY (1:2)

In today’s terms, how would this be interpreted? It is interesting to note that this is how Solomon felt before he took his journey, while he was taking his journey and after the journey was over. Nothing satisfied. There was nothing in all that he allowed himself to do that had any lasting satisfaction.

Why do you think it was such a pointless, empty treadmill? Why wouldn't the man who was king, who had such an endless supply of financial resources, find something, anything, that would have purpose?

In order to understand the book of Ecclesiastes, we first have to understand Solomon’s perspective on life especially since it is like the perspective most people have today. To quote his own words, it is the “under the sun” perspective. Many times in this book you will see Solomon use this phrase. It describes the horizontal, strictly human viewpoint. We will point this phrase out a lot in our study. It is sad but seldom does Solomon look above the sun to find reassurance. Because of that, life seemed drab, depressing, hopeless, meaningless. Because he left God out of the picture, nothing satisfied.

This book has the 21st century pegged. Everything written in this book fits us today. How many times have you gotten up in the morning and found yourself ready to run? Why? Where are you running to? The principle found in this book is this “It is all a pipe dream”. It may look like it is all worth the effort, but don’t bother…life without God under the sun is despair.

Today, has the world bought into this empty, horizontal, who needs God perspective? Why? How do they get out from under the trap?Let’s take a quick trip through his journey to get a glimpse at what we will be studying.

In the first half of his journey, he records much of what he encountered during his mid-life crisis. He really went for it! He painfully recorded how boring it really was. In reality, there was no advantage and there will be no remembrance:

1:11 There is no remembrance of men of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow.

In spite of his admission that what he was going to do was not going to accomplish anything, why does he go off and search anyway, determined to find something under the sun that would satisfy? Why did he try?

The result: 2:11, 17-18
Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun. So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me.

Next he tries a couple philosophical trips, fatalism and humanism. Do you remember when the Beatles achieved great success and right in the middle of their success they started practicing many of the eastern religions? Solomon did the same. These mind trips look impressive but deep down they are nothingness.

3:18-21 I also thought, “As for men, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. Man’s fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?”

Have we heard this thinking before? Today man thinks he is inventing new thinking to find out that it has already been tried. Well that didn't work so the answer must be found in social action, reaching out to those who are hurting. On the other hand, we will always have the poor with us, I’ll work at being rich and maybe wealth will satisfy.

3:16, 5:10-11 And I saw something else under the sun: In the place of judgment—wickedness was there, in the place of justice—wickedness was there. Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owner except to feast his eyes on them? This too is a grievous evil: As a man comes, so he departs, and what does he gain, since he toils for the wind?

The grind in life. Everyone works hard to make life pay. We work, we worry, we take care of our kids and we lose sleep thinking about the next day. Where will our next paycheck come from and what is out there seeking to consume it? How do we pay the bills? Will there be enough when I retire. I hope I live long enough to retire. Look around us; this is the type of thinking of almost everyone. Look at the rich and famous and all the problems they have. Look at the poor and forgotten and all their problems.

6:3-7,12 A man may have a hundred children and live many years; yet no matter how long he lives, if he cannot enjoy his prosperity and does not receive proper burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he. It comes without meaning, it departs in darkness, and in darkness its name is shrouded. Though it never saw the sun or knew anything, it has more rest than does that man—even if he lives a thousand years twice over but fails to enjoy his prosperity. Do not all go to the same place? lf man’s efforts are for his mouth, yet his appetite is never satisfied. For who knows what is good for a man in life, during the few and meaningless days he passes through like a shadow? Who can tell him what will happen under the sun after he is gone?

Then the brakes on the sports car suddenly screech to a halt. He gets out and looks the reader in the eye and says “Listen to me”! He thinks through his journey and sums up his thoughts and continues. Do you want meaning? Do you want purpose? Then wake up and wise up. In order to make your horizontal life essential, it is important to get your vertical life in place. He urges his readers to not waste time searching for meaningless but to go right to the source that gives true meaning, a relationship with the one and true God.

11:8-10; 12:13-14 However many years a man may live, let him enjoy them all. But let him remember the days of darkness, for they will be many. Everything to come is meaningless. Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment. So then, banish anxiety from your heart and cast off the troubles of your body, for youth and vigor are meaningless. Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.

Three important principles we will learn from this study that is relevant to our times today:

• The sensual lure of something better tomorrow robs us of the joys offered today.
• The personal temptation to escape is always stronger than the realization of its consequences.
• The final destination, if God is absent from the scene, will not satisfy.