Last week we logged 47 hours of Bible reading. We have started the books of the prophets, which run concurrently with the period of the kings. The Bible Read-a-Thon continues, raising funds for the work of DOVE missionaries in Africa (DMA). We have raised around $590 so far — thank God — but are significantly below the target that our missionaries need. You are still welcome to send a donation! (use tab on the right-side column)
Ecclesiastes: a unique book. Is it the inspired word of God, and useful for our instruction? Yes, of course. Is it wholly composed of divine Truth? No. It is written from a human point of view, albeit inspired by God. King Solomon (usually assumed to be the author) declares from the beginning that he is viewing the world from “under the sun,” in other words, from the human perspective. God’s perspective would be from “beyond the sun,” right? If King Solomon is in fact the author, it is likely that he wrote Ecclesiastes toward the end of his reign. By then, he had deteriorated into being a lustful idol worshipper; he was not the wise and godly king he was when he started out.
Several human ideologies can be seen in this discourse. Chapter 2 displays a hedonistic attitude; chapter 3 describes a type of thinking known as existentialism. Both approaches conclude that life is short and without meaning, so we should as well live for the moment and just have fun while we can. Solomon goes on to lament the meaninglessness of success, fame, religion, riches and possessions.
Finally, in chapter 12, there is a shift when the author declares that life is only worth living within the context of faith in God. When we fear God and keep His commands, we have finally found meaning. All of the other pursuits are useless.
Yes, everything IS vanity — apart from God. But with God at the center, all of life and all of eternity become not only worthwhile, but also significant.
The seemingly endless cycle of revenge and idolatry of the kings of Israel and Judah could certainly lead us to agree with the earlier chapters of Ecclesiastes that everything is meaningless. I feel such despair, for example, when Solomon ‘throws it all away’ in his later years, or when Joash just up and murders the son of priest Jehoiada–who cared for him, defended him, advised him and protected him, or when Rehoboam listens to foolish advice and plunges the nation into civil war. . . . But unfortunately, we do not see very different patterns in most of the national leaders around us today.
Oh, that we may finish well. (Not many of the kings managed that, despite their godly start: Solomon, Joash, Uzziah, Hezekiah — just to name a few).
Yes, lessons for us in all of God’s Word.