“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
Ecclesiastes 3: 11
Ecclesiastes 1-6 (Psalm 6)
The ‘Teacher’ or ‘Preacher,’ the author of this book, is traditionally thought to be Solomon. However, further theories exist that point to a possibility of three authors or a single one. Given the uncertainty, it is probably best, to simply see the author as anonymous.
The Teacher asks the questions that are on human hearts; basically, what is the meaning of life? His answer is the key theme of the book; all is meaningless except for the fear of God. Humans need to keep God’s commands for one day all will give an account to Him.
Eternity, the desire for meaning in this life and life beyond, has been placed in the human heart by God. Yet humankind cannot really change anything meaningfully, time is in God’s hands and He is sovereign. Human’s lives are short and full of tribulation but God blesses humankind with meaningful employ. Death is inevitable and renders much that is achieved in life…meaningless. Real wisdom belongs to God (3: 14-15) yet there is benefit in humans pursuing wisdom which is better than folly (2: 13-14).
There will be times in our lives where we all echo the questions and sentiments of the ‘Teacher.’ Whilst he may only partially answer his own questions, wonderfully, the bible answers them more completely and the full answer is found in Christ. On Sunday (6th June) we considered how Jesus is the ‘Wisdom of God’ for us. He provides the answers to life and death; He is our redemption, righteousness and holiness (1 Corinthians 1: 30). He gives meaning and purpose to our lives. Whatever the season is, that we are experiencing, good will come out of it; He will make all things beautiful in His time, including us (Romans 8: 28; Ecclesiastes 3: 11; & Colossians 1: 22). Whatever our hands find to do in work, family and leisure, can find meaning in Christ. Even death has lost its sting and meaninglessness for life, for it becomes the door to eternity, opened by Christ for us if we but believe; our hearts will be satisfied in eternity (1 Corinthians 15: 54-57). None of us have fathomed or imagined the wonders that God has prepared for us who love Him (1 Corinthians 2: 9). What we do in this life will influence what is to come in eternity; a sobering and exciting thought.
The Question of Application
The Teacher is sometimes seen as a pessimist or sceptic because of his views and outlook. How we view life and circumstances impacts our hearts, attitudes, views and behaviour. How do you view life; through the lens of the Gospel or the wisdom of the world? The latter leads to meaninglessness the former to the gift of life itself.
Almighty God you have made everything beautiful in its time. You have set eternity in our hearts; yet we cannot fathom what You have done from beginning to end. Help us to be happy and to do good while we live, may we find satisfaction in all our toil and see this as a gift from you. Everything You do endures for ever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. May we therefore give ourselves to you Holy Father in submission and awe inspired fear of you. Amen
From Ecclesiastes 3: 11-14
You make everything beautiful by Rebecca St. James
Red Sea Road by Ellie Holcomb (for difficult seasons)
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In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.