Ecclesiastes. It is a very odd book and stands out from the rest of the bible.
The title Ecclesiastes is and odd word also. Apparently it is a Latin transliteration of the Greek title for the book and the Greek title is a translation of the original Hebrew. The meaning is to Assemble or Gather. So imagine a wise individual assembling a class to teach them about how the world works. The real nitty-gritty practical stuff. I imagine the wise professor gathering the class about to graduate and saying something like “Class today in practical terms we are going to talk about how most of the things in life, specifically your perception of life is just a waste of time.”
Then I said in my heart, “What happens to the fool will happen to me also. Why then have I been so very wise?” And I said in my heart that this also is vanity. For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. How the wise dies just like the fool! So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind. Ecclesiastes 2:15-17 ESV
Ecclesiastes really has some hard and sobering questions about the script that you have written for yourself and what you will do in life. It strikes right at our finite mortality forcing us to realize that this life is temporary. I challenge you to spend time in the Bible this week and read Ecclesiastes, become familiar with what God wants you to take away from this book.
There are many choice parts of Ecclesiastes to quote from, but one that has kind of haunted or challenged me more than others is from 7:2…
It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart. Ecclesiastes 7:2 ESV
You learn more at a funeral than at a feast—After all, that’s where we’ll end up. We might discover something from it. Ecclesiastes 7:2 MSG
The Teacher is telling me that it is better to go to a funeral than a party? On the face of that statement I am cringing because the last place I want to be is at a funeral, however on closer inspection the Teacher is reminding the students that all their striving and all their money will not go with them. Dave Ramsey the financial talk guy on the radio frequently says “I have never seen a U-Haul following a hearse”.
There is some hope provided in Ecclesiastes, but that hope is limited because the author is still waiting for Jesus to be revealed.
I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man. Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 ESV
While the best hope of Ecclesiastes is to be joyful in the toil of this land. We know that through Jesus we have a hope of salvation because Jesus has told us where the end of this life takes us.
For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. 1 Timothy 4:10 ESV