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An Introduction to Ecclesiastes

A pastor once made an announcement to his congregation...

Each of you need  to go stand on the corner where the highway meets our street today from 2pm to 5 pm.  

How do you think most people in the congregation responded? If you said, “They asked for a reason why,” then you would be correct! Whether it is an 11-year-old little girl or an engineer with a Master’s degree, before anyone would stand beside a busy highway for 3 hours, they would demand some sort of explanation.

The sad fact is, not nearly as many people will pause long enough to ask, “Why” about the journey of life we all are on.

When it comes to wisdom, humanity can be divided into 4 basic groups:

1. The Fool

The first type of people we see are those who simply do not think.

The vast majority of people in our world would fall into this category. They fail to think and rather follow what they “feel”, some to the point of becoming animalistic in their actions. In an attempt to appear thoughtful, this type of person blames their station in life on fatalistic destiny rather than intentional directives. They may make some of the same decisions as a thinking person, but it is merely by accident. As someone said, “Even a blind squirrel will come across a nut occasionally”. Most young people are in this category. Therefore, most of wisdom literature is targeted at them, including Ecclesiastes- with the hope of delivering them from a lifetime of foolishness.

Ecclesiastes 11:9 (ESV) 
"Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment."

2. The Unwise

The unwise person is one who does give thought to their life, but comes to worldly conclusions rather than wise ones.

Many of the unwise have made a conscious choice to follow a specific, organized way of thinking (or philosophy) and have made all of their life choices based on that worldview’s paradigm. Many of the philosophical or ideological “isms” in our world were developed by thinking people who lacked wisdom:

- Humanism
- Hedonism
- Existentialism
- Socialism

Each of these “isms” has a paradigm through which it interprets reality, so the problem is not that the adherents to these “isms” aren’t thinking. Instead, it is that they are thinking from the wrong starting point. French Philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre said, “Without an infinite reference point, all finite reference points are absurd”. Sadly, his conclusion would be in stark disagreement with wise King Solomon, as he concluded that there is no infinite reference point at all.

3. The Simple

Some people act and respond with a biblical paradigm, but they are not thoughtful about it. They make certain decisions because their parents made those decisions. In the South, some make biblical decisions because it is (or at least, was)culturally acceptable to do so. While we are glad people honor God’s Word for any reason, the book of Ecclesiastes and all of Scripture are designed to move you into the fourth category.

4. The Wise

Finally, there are those people who both think and act biblically. These are the wise. Ecclesiastes is meant to drive us into a thoughtful biblical world view, by exposing the fallacies of every other way of looking at the world. It is more of a book of questions than a book of answers. In some ways, it would have made sense to place Ecclesiastes as the first book in the Bible, because it raises the questions that the remainder of Scripture answers.

Join us for our study of Ecclesiastes through Right Now Media:

Zach Terry

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