Week 7: The Futility Of Chasing The Good Life

Ecclesiastes 6:1–12 Chapter 12: The Few Years of a Futile Life (6:1–12)     Solomon continues on with his investigation of life “under the sun.” His gloomy perspective remains consistent: “There is an evil which I have seen under the sun and it is prevalent among men” (v.1). You might look around and see those who seem to have grabbed ahold of the good life. But if you could see into the heart you would discover that there still is no lasting enjoyment and satisfaction. At this point the book has become somewhat repetitive as the Preacher cycles around to familiar themes and revisits them from a fuller or slightly different vantage point. When it gets to the ultimate questions regarding the point of this life, Solomon in all of his wisdom cannot make sense of his earthly existence. He is left with unanswered speculations. EVEN THOSE WHO APPEAR TO HAVE GRABBED HOLD OF THE GOOD LIFE STRUGGLE WITH NO ENJOYMENT, NO SATISFACTION AND NO ANSWERS TO LIFE’S ULTIMATE QUESTIONS I. (:2-6) NO ENJOYMENT — THE FUTILITY OF THE GOOD LIFE (:2) The Good Life Proves Elusive (:2a) Possessing the Good Life is a Gift from God – Solomon’s Blessings (:2b) Enjoying the Good Life is Impossible Apart from a Gift of God as Well – Solomon’s Frustration You Don’t Get to Enjoy Your Possessions A Stranger Enjoys Your Possessions (:2c) Conclusion: Futility and Pain Once Again (:3-6) The Good Life No Better Than the Non Life – In fact more painful and frustrating Possible Mitigating Factors Larger Family Longer/Healthier Life Same Problem: No Enjoyment or Satisfaction Worse State Than Non Existence II. (:7-9) NO SATISFACTION (FILLING UP) — THE FUTILITY OF ONE’S LABOR IN LIGHT OF THE INSATIABLE NATURE OF THE HUMAN APPETITE (:7) Laboring . . . Eating . . . Emptiness (:8) What’s the Point? 2 Piercing Questions: No Difference – Wise Man or Fool No Difference – Rich Man or Poor (:9a) Mini-Insight – Focus on What You Have (:9b) Same Old Conclusion = Futility Under the Sun III. (:10-12) NO MAKING SENSE OF ONE’S SHORT LIFE ON EARTH — THE INABILITY TO DETERMINE YOUR OWN DESTINY OR EVEN UNDERSTAND WHAT LIFE IS ALL ABOUT (:10-11) The Futility of Trying to Determine Your Own Destiny – 3 Don’ts: The Finality of the Sovereignty of God – since your course has been determined — Don’t Think...
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Week 6: Fear God / Be Content / Appreciate God’s Gifts

Ecclesiastes 5:1–20 Chapter 10: What Every Worshiper Should Remember (5:1–7) Chapter 11: Straight Talk to the Money–Mad (5:8–20)   WORSHIP, WEALTH AND WISDOM – Ecclesiastes 5:1-20 I. (:1-7) WORSHIP Warren Wiersbe begins his Be series commentary on this section by noting that: Solomon had visited the courtroom, the marketplace, the highway, and the palace. Now he paid a visit to the temple, that magnificent building whose construction he had supervised. He watched the worshipers come and go, praising God, praying, sacrificing, and making vows. He noted that many of them were not at all sincere in their worship, and they left the sacred precincts in worse spiritual condition than when they had entered. What was their sin? They were robbing God of the reverence and honor that He deserved. Their acts of worship were perfunctory, insincere, and hypocritical. Worship is one of our primary joys and responsibilities but all too often, we approach worship with a casual attitude and judge its value by what we get out of it. True worship is God focused. I think J.I. Packer said it well: Worship in the Bible is the due response of rational creatures to the self-revelation of their Creator. It is an honoring and glorifying of God by gratefully offering back to him all the good gifts, and all the knowledge of his greatness and graciousness, that he has given. It involves praising him for what he is, thanking him for what he has done, desiring him to get himself more glory by further acts of mercy, judgment, and power, and trusting him with our concern for our own and others’ future well-being. Moods of awestruck wonder and grateful celebration are all part of it: David danced with passionate zeal “before the LORD” when he brought up the ark to Jerusalem, and sat in humble amazement “before the LORD” when he was promised a dynasty, and his worship evidently pleased God on both occasions (2 Sam. 6:14-16; 7:18). Learning from God is worship too: attention to his word of instruction honors him; inattention is an insult. Acceptable worship requires “clean hands and a pure heart” (Ps. 24:4) and a willingness to express one’s devotion in works of service as well as in words of adoration. – (Concise Theology: A Guide To Historic Christian Beliefs, J.I. PACKER) As chapter 5 opens, Solomon turns his attention to the subject of worship and...
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Week 5: The Futility of Chasing Worldly Success

Ecclesiastes 4:1–16 Chapter 8: The Lonely Whine of the Top Dog (4:1–8) Chapter 9: One Plus One Equals Survival (4:9–16)   FIVE ROTTEN STEPS ON THE WORLD’S LADDER OF SUCCESS – Ecclesiastes 4:1-16 I. (:1-3) RUTHLESS OPPRESSION – GAME: SORRY PROBLEM: NO COMFORT Commentary: Solomon’s Insights on Oppression Contrast: Word of Christ: John 14:16 Charge: Our Calling II. (:4-6) RATRACE RIVALRY – GAME: CHESS PROBLEM: NO CALM Commentary: Solomon’s Insights on Rivalry Contrast: Word of Christ: Matt. 11:28-30 Charge: Our Calling III. (:7-8) RELENTLESS GREED – GAME: MONOPOLY PROBLEM: NO CONTENTMENT Commentary: Solomon’s Insights on Greed Contrast: Word of Christ: (as quoted by example and teaching of Paul) Acts 20:33-35 Charge: Our Calling: IV. (:9-12) RISKY ISOLATION – GAME: SOLITAIRE PROBLEM: NO COMPANIONSHIP Commentary: Solomon’s Insights on Isolation Contrast: Word of Christ: John 15:12-17 Charge: Our Calling V. (:13-16) RECURRING INSTABILITY – GAME: CHUTES AND LADDERS PROBLEM: NO CONTINUITY Commentary: Solomon’s Insights on Instability Contrast: Word of Christ: Matt. 7:24 Charge: Our Calling PARALLEL: STORY OF HAMAN IN THE BOOK OF ESTHER: RUTHLESS OPPRESSION RATRACE RIVALRY RELENTLESS GREED RISKY ISOLATION RECURRING...
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Week 4: The Futility of Trying to Comprehend the Divine Master Plan

Ecclesiastes 3:1–22 Chapter 5: Do You Know What Time It is? (3:1–11) Chapter 6: Interlude of Rare Insight (3:12–15) Chapter 7: Confessions of a Cynic (3:16–22)   MORTALITY AND THE FITNESS OF LIFE – Ecclesiastes 3:1-22 In chapter 3, Solomon continues his exploration of life “under the sun“. The chapter begins with perhaps what may be one of the most recognized portions of Scripture. If you have been around for a few years or listen to oldies stations, you may have heard the Mamas and the Papas sing the song “Turn, Turn, Turn” (written by Pete Seeger) which set these verses to music. I. (:1-8) DO YOU KNOW WHAT TIME IT IS? Chuck Swindoll begins his exploration of these verses by noting that “every morning, Someone who loves you very much deposits into your bank of time 86,400 seconds of time – which represent 1,440 minutes – which, of course, equal twenty-four hours each day.” Time is a great equalizer. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, slave or free, lofty or humble, wise or foolish; a day is a day for all of us. It is up to each of us to use the time we are given wisely. The calendar marches on and the seasons change right on time, just as the Creator ordained it. In God’s perfect reckoning, “He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecc 3:11a ESV). Solomon confronts us with seven contrasts or extremes that span all aspects of our experience. Seven is a number that represents completeness or perfection in Scripture. He begins with the most fundamental aspect of our experience, life itself. The entire section emphasizes that life is filled with a series of contrasts and we constantly move from state to state, experience to experience, season to season. Some are pleasant and enjoyable and some are burdensome and painful. It would be nice to think that we could make sense of it all but unfortunately, while we live under the sun, there are some things that we cannot understand… There are, and will always be, triumphs and tragedies under the sun but we can take comfort, when we turn our perspective from the horizontal (natural view) to the vertical (godly perspective) that all of our experiences have a purpose and we are never outside of His control. II. (:9-15) INTERLUDE OF RARE WISDOM Warren Wiersbe introduces this passage...
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Week 3: The Futility of Pursuing Wisdom or Work “under the sun”

Ecclesiastes 2:12–26 Chapter 4: More Miles of Bad Road     FUTILITY OF WISDOM AND WORK UNDER THE SUN – Ecclesiastes 2:12-26 BIG IDEA: A LIFE OF PURSUING WISDOM OR ACCOMPLISHMENT ONLY ACCUMULATES A LEGACY OF FUTILITY I. (:12-17) FUTILITY OF WISDOM – WISDOM EXCELS FOLLY BUT THE SAME END AWAITS BOTH (:12) The Repetitive Investigation – Nothing New Under the Sun (:13-14a) The Advantages of Wisdom – Light is Better than Darkness (:14b-16) The Futility of Wisdom – The Same Fate Awaits Both (:14b) Death is Every Man’s Destiny (:15-16) Two Reasons Pursuing Wisdom is Worthless (:15) Pursuing Wisdom is Worthless Because it Cannot Change Man’s Destiny (:16) Pursuing Wisdom is Worthless Because it Cannot Build a Redeeming Legacy (:17) The Frustrating Conclusion – No Purpose in Living II. (:18-23) FUTILITY OF WORK – A LIFE OF ACCOMPLISHMENT ONLY ACCUMULATES A LEGACY OF FUTILITY [Aside: Characteristics of a Workaholic] (:18) You Can’t Take it With You – Emotion of Hatred (TEST: GREEDY PAWS OR GENEROUS PURSESTRINGS) OT Example: Lot’s Wife (Luke 17:28-33) NT Example: Rich man who kept building bigger barns (Luke 12:13-14) (:19) You Must Surrender Control to Someone Else – Emotion of Despair (TEST: ENSLAVED TO A SYSTEM OF WORKS OR EMANCIPATED BY GRACE?) OT Example: Solomon and Rehoboam NT Example: Father of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:29-32) (:20) You Don’t Get Any Return on Your Investment – Emotion of Pain (TEST: EARTHLY POSSESSIONS OR HEAVENLY TREASURES) OT Example: Contrast between Abraham and Lot / Jacob / Job NT Example: Zaccheus – rich tax collector (Luke 19) (:21) Your Hard-Earned Legacy Can End Up in the Hands of the Undeserving (:22-23) Conclusion: The Pursuit of Work Brings No Worthwhile Return III. (:24-25) FLASH OF INSIGHT – ENJOY WHAT GOD HAS GIVEN TO YOU (NOT WHAT YOU SEEK AFTER TO TRY TO SATISFY YOURSELF) (:24-25) God’s Gifts Are Good and Should be Enjoyed with Thanksgiving Basic Gifts are the Best Gifts These Gifts are From the Sovereign, Providential Hand of God No Satisfaction apart from Appreciation of God’s Good Gifts (:26) God’s Gifts Ultimately Flow to the Righteous Different Strokes for Different Folks (Righteous vs Sinners) Nothing but Futility for the Sinner Apart from...
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Week 2: The Futility of Pleasure, Possessions and Pride (Popularity)

Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 Chapter 3: Eat, Drink, and Be What?     LIVING IT UP WILL ALWAYS LET YOU DOWN – Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 BIG IDEA: INVESTIGATION UNDER THE SUN REVEALS THE FUTILITY OF PLEASURE, POSSESSIONS AND PRIDE INTRODUCTION: 1 John 2:15-17 AN EXAMINATION OF THE WORLD PROVES THAT LOVE FOR THE WORLD AND LOVE FOR GOD ARE MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE — LOVE FOR THE WORLD CHARACTERIZED BY 3 FUTILE PURSUITS Futility of Unbridled Appetites = Pleasure: “the lust of the flesh” – Maximizing Fun Futility of Coveting Possessions = “the lust of the eyes” – Maximizing Things Futility of Pride and Selfish Ambition = “the boastful pride of life” – Maximizing Fame I. (2:1-3) THE FUTILITY OF PLEASURE: PARTY ANIMALS WILL HAVE TO WAKE UP SOMETIME AND FACE THE PAIN OF REALITY – TRYING TO MAXIMIZE FUN (:1) Sneak Preview Summary (:2) Escapism Fails to Satisfy – Ducking Reality C. (:3) Indulgence Fails to Satisfy – Feeding Frenzy II. (2:4-8) THE FUTILITY OF POSSESSIONS – TRYING TO MAXIMIZE POSSESSIONS (:4a) Top Dog in Architecture — the ultimate Achiever (:4b-6) Top Dog in Horticulture — the ultimate Arborist (:7a) Top Dog in Empire Building — the ultimate Authority (:7b-8a) Top Dog in Possessions and Wealth — the ultimate Acquirer (:8b) Top Dog in Entertainment — the ultimate Artistic Performer (:8c) Top Dog in Sexual Pleasures — the ultimate Adulterer III. (2:9-11) THE FUTILITY OF PRIDE AND SELFISH AMBITION – TRYING TO MAZIMIZE FAME AND POPULARITY (:9) The Pursuit of Greatness – Mr. Popularity (:10a) Formula for Spiritual Disaster (:10b) Fleeting Pleasure is the Only Reward (:11) Concluding Perspective: Bitter Disillusionment THREE PARALLEL EXAMPLES OF WRESTLING WITH THE TEMPTATION TO PURSUE A LIFE OF PLEASURE, POSSESSIONS AND PRIDE Experience of Eve in Yielding to Satan in the Garden (Genesis 3:6) Unbridled Appetites – “the tree was good for food“ Covetousness – “it was a delight to the eyes“ Pride of life – “desirable to make one wise” – to know like God knows Experience of Moses in Choosing Suffering with the People of God (Heb. 11:24-26) Unbridled Appetites – “passing pleasures of sin“ Covetousness – “choosing reproach of Christ greater riches than treasures of Egypt“ Pride of life – “refused to be called the son of Pharoah’s daughter“ Experience of Christ as He Defeated the Temptation by Satan (Matt. 4:1-11) Unbridled Appetites – “Command that these stones become bread” — Priority of Word...
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