What’s the Deal with Ecclesiastes?

eeyore-1As we begin a summer study of Ecclesiastes, at first glance it seems to be a book authored by Eeyore or Debbie Downer, but that’s not the case. It’s a book designed to make us consider the meaning of it all. The message of Ecclesiastes demonstrates how faith can triumph over doubt. The Christian faith never attempts to suppress the questioning mind, and the presence of a book like Ecclesiastes in the Bible is proof our faith welcomes questions. “Over time, such honest grapplings stretch our faith and lead to deeper faith commitments.”* The author of Ecclesiastes allows us to acknowledge that life circumstances make faith difficult. That’s the bulk of the book. Ecclesiastes makes observations that the things we put our hope in do not pan out. In the end the bottom line is given to us in 12:13-14, that “Life without truth in God becomes truly meaningless. [So] our task is to enjoy life as He grants it and to continue trusting Him who gives meaning to our existence.”*

So where do we go from here, after reading this (apparently) melancholy book? The book’s final declaration is to “Fear God and keep His commands” (12:13). It is not a message saying, “give up,” “why bother,” or “be passive.” It’s a message declaring that the goal in life is to live in relationship with God, because “To obey Him is to be TRULY human and to reach our greatest potential as part of His creation.”* In other words, keep truckin’. Put your hope in the only stable thing around. Put your hope in Jesus, who’s death and resurrection invites us to rest in security, and invites us to the feast table of the king of hope. That’s good news.

* Encountering the Old Testament. by Arnold & Beyer (Baker, 1999).

Wow. It's Quiet Here...

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