What We Learned From Ecclesiastes (Reflections on Bible Verses)
Ecclesiastes is an old testament book consisting of reflections of the vanity of human life. It is one of my favorite books in the Bible because of the lessons that one can learn from it and its application in reality.
The book narrates the teachings of a Teacher, as he imparts his wisdom regarding the way of life. King Solomon was the attributed author according to Jewish tradition. It was written perhaps around 935 B.C., late in Solomon's reign.
The content of Ecclesiastes reflects someone looking back on a life that was long on experience but short on lasting rewards. This book is important because of its naturalistic vision in life.
Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.— Ecclesiastes 1:8
Everything is Meaningless
The book starts with a statement saying "Everything is meaningless, completely meaningless!". The Teacher narrates his personal experience as he tries to find meaning in a series of examples - having wealth, wisdom, popularity, and pleasure.
He denied himself no pleasure. He devoted himself to having great wisdom. He acquired great wealth, yet all of these things lead to disappointment. He lived his life having all the vanities in life, yet he looks back in his life with regret. Everything became meaningless, like chasing the wind.
Leading one's existence with the sole reason to acquire the vanities in life - wealth, wisdom, popularity, pleasure- ultimately leads to disappointment.
Did you experience a broken promise, an unfulfilled expectation, or a shattered dream? Does your life lack the meaning or purpose you desire?
A Time For Everything
Even in the writer's desperate for meaning and purpose in life - God remained present. For instance, he stated that "there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God" (2:24).
Also, even there are injustices in life, we can trust Him and follow Him. "In due season, God will judge everyone, both good and bad, for all their deeds" (3:17).
Ultimately, the great truth that we can learn from Ecclesiastes is the acknowledgment of God's presence in our lives whether we are in despair or success.
God's will includes that we experience trials and success in His perfect timing. Trust His timing, you may seem like in a rush right now, but everything happens in the right time.
For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;— Ecclesiastes 3:1-5
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.— Ecclesiastes 3:6-8
"Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God's work from beginning to end (11). So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can (12). And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God (13)."
Death Comes To All
Ecclesiastes expresses the ultimate truth that we are bound to accept - "the same destiny ultimately awaits everyone, whether righteous or wicked, good or bad, ceremonially clean or unclean, religious or irreligious" (9:2).
We are bound to accept that our lives here on earth are going to end someday. "People can never predict when hard times might come" (9:12).
Whatever you do, do well. For when you go to the grave, there will be no work or planning or knowledge or wisdom.— Ecclesiastes 9:10
Uncertainties In Life
Be grateful for the work that you have, the food that you eat, the drink that you have, for everything is a reward from God. Live well, for no one can predict when our death on Earth might come.
"Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother's womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God who does all things." - Ecclesiastes 11:5
Advice For Young And Old
Ecclesiastes teaches us to enjoy the life we have here on Earth. At the same time, it teaches us to not only pursue the vain things here on Earth (wealth, popularity, pleasure) - but to remember, and always remember our Creator.
When people live to be very old, let them rejoice in every day of life. But let them also remember there will be many dark days. Everything still to come is meaningless.— Ecclesiastes 11:8
Young people, it's wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it. Do everything you want to do; take it all in. But remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do. So refuse to worry, and keep your body healthy. But remember that youth, with a whole life before you is meaningless.— Ecclesiastes 11:9-10
"Don't let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator. Honor Him in your youth before you grow old and say 'Life is not pleasant anymore'." - Ecclesiastes 12:1
Live well. Do everything that you do with God in your heart and in your mind. For death comes to all; rejoice and refuse to worry. Everything will happen in God's perfect timing. Accept that there will be a time for trials and mourning.
Ecclesiastes teaches us to live a well-balanced life while we are here on Earth. Rejoice, have fun, and accept the trials that are put in your life - but do not forget our Creator.
In the end, abandon pursuing only worldly pursuits, and only through glorifying God will provide us with the only lasting meaning in life.
That's the whole story. Here is now my final conclusion:
Fear God and obey His commands, for this is everyone's duty. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.— Ecclesiastes 12:13
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