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Summary Notes from Ecclesiastes

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Ecclesiastes Summary Notes

We recently finished a sermon series in the book of Ecclesiastes. Dave Martin has synthesized some main points from the book and the sermons. Here are his summary notes.

1. Life is transitory, like your breath on a cold morning. (1:1-11)

2. Life under the sun is meaningless (1:1-11). It’s as futile as shopping for groceries at Famous Footwear.

  • People typically respond in 3 ways:
    • Escape by working harder, running faster.
    • Give up and resign themselves to pessimism, fatalism, the reality of a meaningless existence.
    • Block it out by partying as much as possible – entertainment, games, drugs, sex, sports superfans, etc.

3. What’s the answer to the problem of existence (1:12-18)? It depends on understanding the question. 

  • According to the Deep Thought computer in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the answer to the big question is “42.”
  • God’s answer to the big question is Jesus. This is God’s wisdom, which looks like foolishness to the world, much like the answer 42 looks like foolishness to us.

4. Solomon tried two experiments (ch 2) we can learn from, neither of which led to satisfaction: 

  • Having it all – which in many ways is more available to us than it was to Solomon.
  • Being a wise or savvy person, thinking he could build a life that would give him satisfaction.

5. Time is a great mystery (ch 3)

  • It is a tyrant – relentless; we have no control over it.
  • It is beautiful – it brings unfolding seasons of joy, growth, and wonder.
  • It is fearful – it brings pain, cruelty, and inevitably, death.
  • We are born with a longing for permanence; Eden runs through our veins. We want to understand it all, but we are not God. We see the back side of the tapestry.
  • In the fulness of time God sent his Son. Because of what the Son accomplished, we do not need to fear time. We should fear God – a reverent, knee-shaking awe that results in joyful surrender. Similar to the fear of Aslan the lion in the Narnia books – fear of him, yet longing to be near him. He is not safe, but he is good.

6. Genuine worship means seeking God rather than seeking something from God (5:1-7).

  • Genuine worship listens – welcoming the voice of God into your life.
  • Genuine worship speaks intentionally. Don’t be insincere or careless in your words. Don’t make empty promises or vows – marriage, baptism, membership, child dedication, elders.
  • Genuine worship doesn’t use God as a means to an end; it fears God.

7. There’s no satisfaction in the closed system under the sun (5:8 – 6:12)

  • Money isn’t an idol – It just shows us where our idols are.
  • Why do we seek satisfaction in power and wealth? Paul in Colossians says root problem is idolatry. Significance, security, identity, satisfaction that we think money will provide.
  • We think the saltwater of status and stuff is going to quench our thirst, but it only increases it.
  • The true nature of our idol-worshiping hearts is the root problem. The satisfaction problem is a belief problem. We don’t believe God is generous.
  • Jesus is the only one who solves the heart problem, the only one who can satisfy forever.

8. Wisdom leads us to humility – to accept the brevity of our life, the limits of our knowledge, and the overarching sovereignty of God (ch 7).

9. What can we do in the face of injustice? (ch 8)

  • The temptation is to either seize power, use ungodly methods to address problems, or check out.
  • Instead we are to respect authority, fear God, and enjoy life – trusting that Jesus’ power over death trumps man’s power over man.

10. Living life in the light of death (9:1-12)

  • Death is evil and inevitable. Its time and manner are not fair or predictable.
  • Life is a gift. God takes pleasure in our pleasure.
  • Because Jesus is the firstborn from the dead, we have a hope that deals with the reality of death. Jesus was hit by the truck so that we would only be hit by the shadow.

11. Wisdom in the political sphere (9:13 – 10:20)

  • Folly often rules the day in the political world – power politics, lots of hot air.
  • Wisdom is often quiet and overlooked.
  • Jesus is the king who became a child to live a wise and perfect life under the sun. Jesus stayed on the cross in order to experience the anger of the ruler and deal with our offenses.

12. Live in the moment (11:1 – 12:8)

  • Invest in the moment – give generously, do good work, leave outcome to God.
  • Rejoice in the moment – enjoy fleeting youthful vitality, live by God’s design, remember that God will evaluate you.
  • Remember in the moment – always keep your Creator in mind. Example of William Borden who died in Egypt at 26 – “no reserves, no retreat, no regrets.”

13. The end of the matter (12:9-14)

  • Who is my shepherd? [Who am I listening to?]
  • Who do I fear? [Who am I obeying?]
    • Why should we fear God? Living a meaningful life prepares us for the day of judgment. This does not sound like good news. The one we are to fear is the one who loves us, the one who lifts our shame.
    • Jn 10:11-15 Good Shepherd lays down his life, bearing the shame of the sheep (Isa 53, Heb 12). The slaughtered Lamb is the Shepherd.
    • If he loves you that much, can’t you trust him to lead you?
    • Our fear doesn’t drive us away from him; it reorients our life around him.