Jesus in Ecclesiastes: Eternal Purpose
Ecclesiastes shows us the frustration of living in a fallen world. Jesus is the wisdom of God that enters the fall and the frustration to overcome it. He experienced this life of tears, exhaustion and perplexity of a world corrupted by sin. Most importantly Jesus conquered this frustration through the cross.
Last week we looked at Proverbs. If you want to be successful in any area of life, business or relationship Proverbs is like the field guide to get there. It addresses everything from money to character and all relationships in between.
The problem with success is that it will never satisfy your life.
Ecclesiastes reveals the frustration of a lack of purpose producing a pointless existence. In this frustration sarcasm and cynicism about. These cynical and sarcastic verses reveal the limitations of all human experience.
Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes. Important that you know and understand. This isn’t just some guy off the street.
Solomon is the king of a very prosperous, wealthy, powerful nation. Here he is with more wealth, power and fame than you and I will ever, ever, ever, ever, ever...... ever have.
So, here’s his chipper introduction to his book.
Eccl 1:1-3 The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem: 2 "Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless." 3 What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun? NIV
Here we have an expert on experiencing everything life under the sun has to offer and he says, “Everything is meaningless.” “Everything, Solomon?” “Everything!”
“What about marriage Solomon?” “Meaningless!”
“What about pleasure?” “Meaningless!”
“What about wealth?” “Meaningless!”
Everything under the sun is meaningless!
Solomon methodically talks about every aspect of living and then tells us how worthless and meaningless it is. Over the course of twelve chapters he uses the Hebrew word that translates, “meaningless”, 38 times. In Ecclesiastes 2 Solomon describes pleasure, laughter, drinking, partying, building, planting, developing parks, gardens, reservoirs, groves of trees, herds, flocks, silver, gold, treasures, singers and entertainers and all kinds of women from all kinds of places who were surely willing to do all kinds of things to please their king.
Eccl 2:10-11 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. 11 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. NIV
The life Solomon is describing here is specifically life “under the sun”. 29 times we read this phrase in the book of Ecclesiastes. Life under the sun speaks of life on this earth void of any heavenly purposes.
Animals seem very content to just be what they are. Humans have something in them driving them to be more than what we are or something other than what we are. Little boys dress up like cowboys and little girls dream of being a princess. We are filled with this capacity to dream beyond our existence! We are created to experience purposes beyond our own pursuits.
Eccl 3:11 “God..has planted eternity in the human heart..” TLB
Only God’s eternal purposes revealed in this temporal life can move us from merely existing to truly living. Eternity planted in your heart will require you to live a life beyond your life to be fulfilled.
Jesus' mission cost him his life because his mission was not this life. Your mission is bigger than the pursuit of a great life on earth. God wants your life to be awesome but there is a catch. It’s not his plan that you pursue an awesome life for yourself but rather provide an awesome life for others.
1 Cor 10:24 We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well. MSG
God has brought us together as a church family to serve his purposes and to leave our world a better place! It is important that we work together to serve His eternal purposes and leave our world a better place as a result!
This is why it is so important that we learn how to live generous lives. Generosity doesn’t just come easy. God has always included regular giving as part of his definition of worship.
People have never gathered at the temple empty handed. Worshiping God has always involved giving some form of sacrificial offering. Learning about and participating in the generous nature of God is very important to our lives, our legacy and our world.
Tithing is a principle that existed before it became an Old Testament Law! The idea that this is an outdated process that ended with the transition from the Old Testament to the New Testament is simply not Biblical.
We see before the Law in Gen 14:20 “Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.” NIV We see the reiteration of this important practice in the Law in many places like Deut 14:22 “Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year.” NIV Jesus then came not to do away with the Law but to fulfill it and reiterates that we should not neglect the tithe.
Matt 23:23 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices--mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law--justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.
After Jesus then Paul reiterates this important practice of giving speaking of a sum in keeping with his income. The word “tithe” means ten percent. Obviously as we all give a percentage of our income it becomes a sacrificial expression in keeping with the total amount we make.
1 Cor 16:1-2 Now about the collection for God's people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. (NIV)
The most important role of tithing in all of our lives is to consistently and routinely come face-to-face with the decision to break the grip of materialism. The purpose of this tithe is revealed in Scripture.
Deut 14:23 “The purpose of tithing is to teach you to always put God first in your lives.” (LB)
The idea that you can’t take it with you is a wrong idea that focus on the wrong riches. True riches are found in relationships. I plan to spend all of eternity meeting & enjoying ppl that might not have made it to heaven if my family hadn’t been willing to reach out and care.
GP4RL: Express your intentions of giving with God this week. If you have children take the time to explain these important truths to them.