God has a personal plan for each person within His larger plan. Sometimes this truth is hard to believe when we go through confusing or difficult circumstances. Just as there is a purpose for each piece within a large model of a plane or ship, there is purpose in every aspect of your life.
The next section of Ecclesiastes that we will study is chapters 3-5. First, we look at the summary at the end of the section, Ecclesiastes 5:18-20. Notice the multiple synonyms Solomon uses: rejoice, enjoy, and gladness. Those who are walking with God will be known for their joy. Those who are not walking with God will be known for grumpiness.
Finish this statement for yourself: "I would be happy if I had _________."
We know already from our study of this book that nothing created can satisfy the immaterial part of us, our souls, because we live in a fallen world. The Lord wants us to pursue knowledge of all kinds, although knowledge alone will not leave us ultimately fulfilled.
We are expected to pursue human wisdom and enjoy that pursuit while understanding that only God's wisdom will satisfy us in Jesus Christ.
Human wisdom robs our joy. Left to our own thinking, life doesn't make much sense. Lived with God's wisdom, life can be enjoyed.
Ecclesiastes 1:3-11 could be interpreted quite negatively. If the purpose of the book is to help us know how to live with joy, this cannot be the ultimate interpretation. This passage exemplifies 4 thought patterns that can rob our joy. Unbelievers can approach these negatively or positively. How should believers respond to these thoughts?
In every period of time, God gives His people time to stop, worship, and celebrate. Nehemiah 8:1-12 shows one of those occasions. The nation of Israel was back from exile, rebuilding Jerusalem, and celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles. Scholars tell us the book of Ecclesiastes was usually read publicly at this festival. Nehemiah's admonition to the people to rejoice, not grieve, is a similar message to Solomon's. The best way to enjoy life is to enjoy it with God, by living according to His Word. Conviction should be a quick work, with grace then bringing joy.
It's important to understand the God of wisdom before trying to understand practical living. Ecclesiastes has much to say about who God is.
Solomon's exhortation to "eat, drink, and be merry" does not mean we should live in excess, but simply that we must keep living however difficult our circumstances. God wants us to enjoy every area of life within His parameters (1 Thessalonians 4:1-2).
We continue to build an overview of the book of Ecclesiastes before diving into the detail of this book of wisdom.
We have spent the first part of this year studying how to walk in a way that pleases God by living His character. The next book we will study as a church family is one that shows us how to do this.
An infinite God created a finite world in Genesis 1. God exists in the eternal present, but humanity lives within the bounds of time. What is the proper use of a Christian's time and resources? The first three questions in the Westminster Catechism give simple answers to biblically appropriate questions about the purpose of mankind.
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