Ecclesiastes

THat’s a bad day

Ever had one of those days where everything is going wrong, and you agree with Chicken Little that the sky is, in fact, falling in? The author of Ecclesiastes is having one of those days – everything is meaningless, life is over, and he is feeling discouraged. But don’t fear, there is another character in this story, the beautiful voice of reason: the narrator, who we get to hear from in beginning and ending of the book. Venture into this roller coaster ride as you journey from discouragement to faith and come to realise that God is the meaning of all things.

 

PART ONE

 
 

 

Part One

THERE IS A TIME FOR EVERYTHING, AND A SEASON FOR EVERY ACTIVITY UNDER THE HEAVENS

E 3:1


DIVE

EVERYTHING IS MEANINGLESS! … THAT’S A LITTLE DRAMATIC, DON’T YOU THINK?

Have you ever had one of those days when you find yourself lost in thought, falling down the rabbit hole of pondering life, purpose, wisdom, your very existence on this earth? It’s a hard moment and that’s what is happening here for the author of Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes is a book most people skip over. Other than giving some teenagers ammunition to overcome the religious folk in a country town to have a dance (Footloose) and some sermons on the timing of God quoting the ‘there is a time for everything’ section, how much of Ecclesiastes have we read? It just seems depressing and overwhelming. How many times can one book say ‘meaningless, like chasing the wind’!

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DEEP DIVE

THE WISDOM PARADOX | ELLA HICKEY

Wisdom literature in the Old Testament refers to and is entirely involved with the notion of ‘skill in living’, which is a combination of the capacities of human intellect, the application of knowledge, and experience of daily life – teaching us moral principles, or prompting us to reflect or investigate problems which are associated with the human existence.* It challenges and confronts the human search for meaning and purpose, as well as the reality of pain, suffering, death, and our relationship with God thereof. This was the function of wisdom literature within the Jewish tradition, and therefore it is with this understanding that we must approach the books which fall under this genre enclosed within the Bible – including the Book of Ecclesiastes (not to be confused with the deuterocanonical Ecclesiasticus, also known as the wisdom of Sirach or Ben Sira).

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Part Two

HE HAS MADE EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL IN ITS TIME

E 3:11


DIVE

IS PESSIMISM ANTI-PENTECOSTAL?

As I read Ecclesiastes, my mind is in a battle. Every word goes against my Pentecostal faith-based, ‘ensure we are super-positive’ nature. How can this be in my Bible? This guy definitely would not be on the preaching team. Yet our Bible clearly and boldly puts this man’s thoughts on display, as a model, an example. It comes in parallel with the question: why is Job in the Bible?

So, is this pessimism literature? This book that was created to voice the worst our brain can come up with, a book that was created in line with ancient Near Eastern pessimism texts. Is this anti to our faith-talk, faith-walk teachings of today? And how do we apply them as faith-filled, super-positive Pentecostals?

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DEEP DIVE

DEATH, TIME AND CHANCE | ELLA HICKEY

“Meaningless!  Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). Work, wisdom, folly, pleasure, belongings, riches, success, greatness, all the delights of mankind, and everything under the sun – meaningless. This is what one might walk away from Ecclesiastes concluding, however there is more to be said of the word ‘meaningless’ and what that would have meant to the teacher.

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