Ecclesiastes: Find God's Perspective on Life

Our autumn Sunday morning studies are from the book of Ecclesiastes. It is one of 5 books in the Bible that are described as ‘wisdom literature’. It contains teaching that will remind us of Proverbs, or the Psalms. It will explore aspects of life that are also explored in the Song of Songs and in Job.  The writer will make use of metaphor and poetry as he considers life as he sees it from the perspective of earth. All with the intention that we take on the wisdom found in following God. For this “life lived under the sun” is fleeting like a breath, vapor or mist.

Commentators traditionally have taken King Solomon to be the author and that what he is writing about is akin to an autobiography of his life.  We cannot be certain that Solomon is the author and the book never confirms this.  Rather we are introduced to a strange and untranslatable title for the author ‘Qoheleth’ which we can simply understand as ‘The Preacher’.

Who he is, doesn’t particularly matter. This Preacher has a message to bring, one of raw honesty about life’s experiences that we will find empathy with.  His teaching will challenge our assumptions about how life should be lived. In the glimpses he brings of God’s character we will learn what is the right perspective on life: God’s perspective.

Making Sense of Life - Christiaan Hofstra
Morning Service, Saturday, August 15, 2020
The message of the book of Ecclesiastes is incredibly apt for our times. Ecclesiastes takes a serious look at life, addressing our life expectancy. The pandemic has forced us to reflect on life too as it has disrupted normality. God reminds us that life is a merest of breaths. Like vapor, life is fleeting, short and unpredictable. Life resists our attempt to capture, control and contain it. Therefore toiling for gain is a chasing after wind. Jesus himself said: what does it profit a man to gain the whole world yet forfeit his soul. May we heed Ecclesiastes' warning and take on his challenge to face reality for what it truly is. And may his message humble us, driving us towards God who through Jesus Christ gained for us what is lasting, Life in all its fullness.
Ecclesiastes 2: Life is for Living Right? - Christiaan Hofstra
Morning Service, Sunday, August 23, 2020
In Eccl.2, Qohelet, the teacher seems to test his conclusions of chapter 1 that life is a mere breath. To find out what is worthwhile for men to do during the few days of their lives he sets himself 3 life projects: wisdom, pleasure, and achievements through hard work. He seems to succeed (v.9-10) yet his conclusions are the same (v.11). There is no ultimate gain to be had. Why? Because of the reality of death (v.14-15) which strips us of everything we hold dear. Through the reality of death God says: If I'm not your security you've got no security. Yet because Christ defeated death (Hebr.2:14-15) we do not have to live in fear of it. Instead, to see life and every part of it including pleasure, wisdom and work from God's perspective we must learn to: live life backward; enjoy life as a gift from God; and live to please God the way Christ lived to please His Father.
Ecclesiastes 3: Tick Tock - Bob Akroyd
Morning Service, Sunday, August 30, 2020
“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” Augustine of Hippo (354-430), Confessions Key Verses in Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3 Verse 1: For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven Verse 11: He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. Verse 21: Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth? In this chapter, we have one of the most well-known portions of the Bible. Pete Seeger wrote a folk song based on the first 8 verses of Ecclesiastes 3 entitled, ‘Turn, Turn, Turn’ in the late 1950s and the song became a number one hit for the Byrds in 1965. We know that the author of Ecclesiastes is a wise man. The preacher knows something about life but more importantly he knows something about the author of life, God. In chapter three, we learn about the variety of experiences in life and we are also reminded about the inevitability of death. God has made us, given us life and the ability to enjoy life. God has also implanted eternity in our hearts – deep down we all know there is a God. With God in our lives, we can find meaning and purpose. Without God, there is always something missing. We are restlessly searching for something that eludes our grasp as Augustine captures so vividly in the introduction to his Confessions, possibly the most important Christian book ever written apart from the Bible. So, as you read the reflections of wise Solomon, the key to life, the key to death and the key to what lies beyond life and death can only be found in knowing God. It is only possible to know God through trusting in his Son, Jesus Christ – He alone gives life the way God intended for us to enjoy it. As the Apostle John states in 1 John 5:11–12, "And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life."
Ecclesiastes 4: - Adrian Armstrong
Morning Service, Sunday, September 6, 2020
Ecclesiastes 4 looks at the world and sees oppression, envy, and power. The writer concludes that, ultimately, the pursuit of money and power are deeply unsatisfying ways to live. Instead he commends contentment – rooted in a right relationship with God, and community – living in right relationship with others. This passage asks us searching and urgent questions in a culture that is obsessed with money and power. Through it God challenges us to ensure that he – and nothing else – is the centre of our lives.
Ecclesiastes 5: 1-7 Serious Business of Worship - Christiaan Hofstra Download Powerpoint
Morning Service, Sunday, September 13, 2020
Ecclesiastes 5:1-7 helps us understand and be moved to God pleasing worship. Contrasted with fools worship which is a careless observance of religion, filled with words yet unfulfilled vows to God, God pleasing worship consists of carefully approaching God, humbly intent to listen and undivided walking in His ways. Not worship for (our) gain but worship as (our) gift to God. Other Scripture used: Isaiah 1: 10-17; Exodus 19:9-12; Matthew 6:5-8.