My First Sermon on Ecclesiastes
We are embarking on a new sermon series in Ecclesiastes at The Fellowship. Below you will find my notes for the first sermon on Ecclesiastes 1:1-11 entitled “If Only…”
- Geo W. Bush & Putin story:
- George W. Bush first meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin:
- W was to inform him that USA was pulling out of a certain ballistic missile treaty so USA could better defend itself.
- Putin came to meeting needing money to retire Soviet era debt. W delivered bad news to him.
- Reporter asked W: “Do you trust Putin?” W said “yes.” When asked why: “Because I looked into his eyes and saw his soul.”
- Later meeting, Putin came to USA and something had changed. He was harsher, darker. Looked at W’s dog Barney and said, “You call that a dog?”
- Later W went to Moscow. Putin brought out a big wolfhound and said, “Better than Barney.”
- Putin had given himself over the to “false gods of power, money, and sex.” He had put his trust in the wrong things of the world.Ecclesiastes forces us to the “If only….” statements in our life. If only it were better, more fulfilling, less stressful, moved slower, hurt less, had more joy to it all.
1. Everyone is searching
- Explain Qoheleth/The Teacher
- Likely not Solomon due to the timing, language, etc.
- As you read Eccl., imagine sitting with the wisest man:
- Teaching us how to learn the ways of God and of life.
- Helping us explore the boundaries of this life.
- Answering the questions too many are afraid to face.
- He is representative of all our searching. Those with much & those with little.
- We’re all asking: Does it all have meaning?
- C.S. Lewis: “It would seem that our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a vacation at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” (from The Weight of Glory)
- Even when we have enough, we are looking for more.
2. Everyone deals with the harshness of life. – V. 2-9a
- The word translated “futility” in verse 2 is hebel = vanity, meaningless, breath, breeze, vapor
- Labor delivers no lasting profit
- Life is simply temporary
- Creation is simply recycling itself
- Nothing we can consume truly satisfies
- History is a closed circuit on repeat
- We all hope to leave a legacy but will soon be forgotten
- Life is dressed-up like a State Fair Merry-Go-Round.
- Plasticized version of the real thing.
- We want to make IT happen. We keep looking for whatever IT is.
- Derwin Gray says: Christianity is not about achieving. It’s about receiving.
3. Nothing is new – v. 9b-10
- We chase the same things everyone has always chased.
- Jonah 2:8 – “worthless idols” vs. God’s “faithful love”
- Treadmill of life.
- “The human environment is a monotonous prison.” –Duane Garrett
- Whole book vacillates b/t depression & carpe diem
- Transitory nature of the world.
- We are invited into a creative, searching, experientially-rich journey of the human condition.
4. Hope and faith are found in the search
- The Teacher “presents a true assessment of the world apart from the light of God’s redeeming love. His perspective on the world and life is restricted; he describes it as life ‘under the sun,’ that is, apart from heavenly realities, apart from God. In other words, his hopelessness is the result of the curse of the fall without recourse to God’s redemption.” –Tremper Longman (39)
- The whole passage is gloomy unless you see the phrase “under the sun” = meaning not found down here!
- “Often recall the proverb: ‘The eye is not satisfied with seeing nor the ear filled with hearing.’ Try, moreover, to turn your heart from the love of things visible and bring yourself to the invisible.” – Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ
- The visible that never satisfies is the divine disruptor that causes us to hear from the eternal God who does nothing but satisfy.
- CS Lewis — “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
- Psalm 39:6-7 – There is only one place to go for hope.
- Romans 8:18-25 – Looking to the gospel, we move from groaning to glory.
- Begin lifting your eyes.
- We are going to explore the “If only” problems of life and along the way see that Christ will always be enough.