The bible isn’t a book, it’s a collection of books.
Lots of different TYPES of writing.
History / prophetic / eye witness accounts / letters / visions.
Half way – Wisdom Literature
5 – Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon
Most human books
History books, prophets – God speaking first hand or historical accounts.
Much more diverse
People wrestling with faith, trying to understand the world.
Esp true – Ecclesiastes
Incredibly wise and rich king of Israel
Son – David & Bathsheba
He wrote 3 books
All slightly weird, b/c none of them are particularly ‘SPIRITUAL’ books.
Never mentions God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, doesn’t seem particularly concerned with heaven/afterlife.
- Song of Solomon – basically erotic poetry.
- Proverbs – wisdom
- Ecclesiastes – searching
Order: Many theologians believe that he wrote song of solomon when he was young, (when he just wanted to spend all day in bed with his new wife.), he wrote proverbs in the middle of his life when he thinks he has everything all figured out, life is simple set of formulas, follow these and you’ll be happy. And then Solomons writes Ecclesiastes later in life where he writes ‘All that stuff is meaningless’.
Considered – most difficult to understand books in the bible.
People have struggled with it being included in the bible.
- Does it fit?
- How does it fit?
- How does it’s message go along with the overall message of the bible?
Very different book.
Not concerned about heaven, afterlife.
Specifically talking about everything ‘under the sun’.
Not concerned with morality in the way many other parts of the bible is.
Doesn’t seem concerned with the morality of having 700 wives and 300 concubines.
ANALOGY – TO A FRIEND – “I need your help!” – Go stand on central on Eubank between 3 and 5 pm.
The question you would ask: WHY.
The question in the book is “We’ll look at that about our saturday, but do we look like about our life.
- You wanna be successful? WHY
- You wanna be wise? WHY
- You want pleasure? WHY
About a man on a journey.
He’s referred to as ‘the teacher’.
Searching for God knows what.
Contentment – Peace – Meaning – Purpose
Starts off as a innocent dude.
I don’t know if you can picture yourself before you went through any hardship in your life. Before the crap really hit the fan for you.
Goes through these phases trying to find meaning.
Wisdom Pleasure Success Rich Political Power Great sexual pleasure
Reaching these amazing heights, in a way that none of us do.
And at the end he says ‘It’s all Hebel’. Hebel – is used 38 times.
Some: vanity / some “meaningless”. Really, what the word means is ‘breath. Vapor.’
Many people consider it to be somewhat of a dark book, because he goes through everything and says it’s all meaningless. I don’t think it’s dark, I just think it’s honest.
I don’t know if your life can attest to this, but mine can.
Phases of life
Sounds so obvious, but if you really think of it, how many of us are sitting, waiting for something to happen to find meaning?
The message of Ecclesiastes for people like us: I’ve done all that, and none of it brought me meaning.
I think it’s significant that he’s going farther into any of these things than most of us to.
- “I have reached the height of pleasure”
- “I have reached the height of success.” Riches
- “I have reached the height of wisdom.”
Imagine – mountains – Play – bottom. If you can imagine all these things as mountains, and we all just play around at the bottom and look up, well Solomon has gone to the top and says ‘Yup, nothing up here.’
And because we haven’t had to extreme form of this stuff, a lot of us continue to think that there’s something out there that will finally satisfy us.
I almost called this sermon ‘Ancient Hip-Hop’
Starts out poor, on the streets.
Money, Girls, Fans, Boats.
A lot of rap in here.
There’s a guy named Wiz Kalifa
Diamonds all on my ring
Gold watches, gold chain
Hundred thou’ on champagne
Yeah my money insane
Yeah I’m making it rain
But I was just on the plane
Buying gear, flying here
Forget what you heard, it’s my time of year
I got so much money I should start a bank
So much paper right in front of me it’s hard to think
Buy so many bottles it’s gonna be hard to drink
Used to buying rounds but now we buy the bar
Last year they had to ask now they know who we are
For many rappers, perhaps those who hang around for awhile and life a little more life, the story starts to change a little.
I’ve had all the girls, all the money, and the boats, and I’m still not satisfied.
I went from the projects to the penthouse – and I still can’t find peace.
Kanye West – little – both.
Kanye West – I think he’s a little of both.
Do you think I sacrifice a real life
For all the fame of flashing lights?
There is no Gucci I can buy
There is no Louis Vuitton to put on
There is no YSL that they could sell
To get my heart out of this hell
And my mind out of this jail
There is no clothes that I could buy
That could turn back the time
There is no vacation spot I could fly
That could bring back a piece of real life
Real life, what does it feel like?
I ask you tonight, I ask you tonight
What does it feel like, I ask you tonight
To live a real life
Modern day ecclesiastes.
These are the words of the Teacher, King David’s son, who ruled in Jerusalem. (Ecclesiastes 1:1)
“Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!” (Ecclesiastes 1:2)
What do people get for all their hard work under the sun? 4 Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes. (Ecclesiastes 1:3)
Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content. (Ecclesiastes 1:8)
History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)
Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!” But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new. (Ecclesiastes 1:10)
We don’t remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now. (Ecclesiastes 1:11)
I devoted myself to search for understanding and to explore by wisdom everything being done under heaven. I soon discovered that God has dealt a tragic existence to the human race. (Ecclesiastes 1:13)
I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind. (Ecclesiastes 1:14)
What is wrong cannot be made right. What is missing cannot be recovered. (Ecclesiastes 1:15)
I said to myself, “Look, I am wiser than any of the kings who ruled in Jerusalem before me. I have greater wisdom and knowledge than any of them.” (Ecclesiastes 1:16)
So I set out to learn everything from wisdom to madness and folly. But I learned firsthand that pursuing all this is like chasing the wind. (Ecclesiastes 1:17)
The greater my wisdom, the greater my grief. To increase knowledge only increases sorrow. (Ecclesiastes 1:18)
Anyone think we should teach this in schools? Pause – remember that this is the guy who earlier in his life wrote PROVERBS!!!
Proverbs 4: “Get wisdom at any cost!”
Chapter 2 – Worse (nothing worthwhile anywhere)
I said to myself, “Come on, let’s try pleasure. Let’s look for the ‘good things’ in life.” But I found that this, too, was meaningless. (Ecclesiastes 2:1)
So I said, “Laughter is silly. What good does it do to seek pleasure?” (Ecclesiastes 2:2)
After much thought, I decided to cheer myself with wine. And while still seeking wisdom, I clutched at foolishness. In this way, I tried to experience the only happiness most people find during their brief life in this world. (Ecclesiastes 2:3)
I also tried to find meaning by building huge homes for myself and by planting beautiful vineyards. (Ecclesiastes 2:4)
I bought slaves, both men and women, and others were born into my household. I also owned large herds and flocks, more than any of the kings who had lived in Jerusalem before me. (Ecclesiastes 2:7)
I collected great sums of silver and gold, the treasure of many kings and provinces. I hired wonderful singers, both men and women, and had many beautiful concubines. I had everything a man could desire! (Ecclesiastes 2:8)
So I became greater than all who had lived in Jerusalem before me, and my wisdom never failed me. (Ecclesiastes 2:9)
Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. (Ecclesiastes 2:10)
But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere. (Ecclesiastes 2:11)
We could keep having this party for days. The entire book is this.
Turns – something beautiful.
Here’s where I think this turns into something beautiful.
Preface: I believe that our lives matter. I believe our choices matter. I believe God has something amazing for us.
But at the same time, it’s a great gift to remember that in a lot of ways, we’re extremely small.
And while beautiful, our lives are just a tiny little blip in the story that God is telling.
And if we can get past the initial pain on realizing we’re not the center of the universe, there’s a great gift on the other side.
Weird title: Small is the new big.
What I mean by that is that is that in a culture that has so much pressure on doing something huge! And changing the world! And being a history maker! There’s a beautiful rest found in remembering that God is big, and we’re small. And we don’t have the power to screw everything up. I’m very comforted by that for some reason. As a pastor, I find great encouragement in knowing that I’m not the main character here.
Ephemeral fly. I don’t know if you’ve heard the story about the ephemeral fly. This fly, he goes around and gives advice and guidance to his grandchildren. Sounds like he’s lived this amazing long life, full of diverse experiences. And the end of the story, we’re told that this type of fly only lives for 24 hours. Yet it’s going around acting as if it has all this great wisdom.
I wonder if you can see yourself in this story.
When you feel like your life is really big, then you need something really big to satisfy you.
“I don’t know why! I just feel like that’s what I’m supposed to be doing!”
The beauty is when you realize that you’re small, they you can enjoy the small things.
We can miss the beauty that’s all around us all the time.
Did you know that there’s people who think they’re supposed to be famous, and in that pursuit they MISS their children growing up.
- They had a misunderstanding of success.
- They had a misunderstanding of beauty.
- They had a misunderstanding of God. And what he wants from us.
Nothing wrong with acquiring more success, wealth or whatever, but you know that that’s not where you find meaning.
Find Joy :
So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God. (Ecclesiastes 2:24)
For who can eat or enjoy anything apart from him? (Ecclesiastes 2:25)
Here’s where the joy comes in.
It’s meaningless to be the most famous person in the whole world, but don’t miss the meaning in having dinner with your family.
I need that realignment every once in awhile.
1 Kings 19:11–13
“Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; (1 Kings 19:11)
and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. (1 Kings 19:12)
And so it was, when Elijah heard it. (1 Kings 19:13)
He’s honest, but coming out of his book, is a reason why, a life that some would consider totally joyless, joy can still be found.
‘Enjoy every sandwich’. Years ago, I saw this guy on David Letterman and he had inoperable cancer. He wrote a book called ‘Enjoy every sandwich’. I know that’s a little dark, but I find it beautiful to remember where real life happens. I don’t want to spend my life climbing a mountain to try and find something that doesn’t exist. Instead, I want to see God’s grace, even today.
How do we know God loves us?
- Because we get to eat fried chicken.
- Because we’re here, and we’re alive.
- Because we get to each fried chicken.
- Because we get to laugh with our friends.
- Because we get to kiss our babies goodnight.
(Can we please prepare Communion)
Rabbits – back yard. I don’t understand everything about the world, but I recognize that today is a gift.
This moment, wouldn’t be possible without him.
James echoes this when he says “Every good gift comes from God.”
When I start feeling like I’m the big deal, I start to miss them.
I might not have everything I imagined, but at the end of the day, I’m surrounded by people who love me, I get to eat a hot meal, and sleep in a warm bed next to a wife who really loves me.
Isn’t God good?!
Colorado – Baker Kids I went to College in Colorado and lived with this family with 2 young boys. Sometimes I would feel lonely, or freaked out, I would go and sit and listen to them play. And it would calm my soul.
Sad that a lot of people won’t be able to see how Holy a moment like that is.
One Night event I’m a youth pastor. – One Night. Loud, bumping, lights on point. Everyone in jumping and dancing. We’re trying to create a place that conducive for a young person to open their hearts to God and experience Him. As I’ve grown, so much of my experience of God is not in loud, in your face church times, but it’s in small life times.
Holiness – found – every day life. – Open eyes.
That of all the things Jesus could have used for us to come an experience Him in, He chose a meal.
So here you are tonight. A sacred time if you’ll have eyes to see it.
This moment that we’ve gathered here tonight, is a moment you’ll never get again. You get to experience tonight once.
And we’ll called to simply recognize the simple beauty that’s here with us, right here, right now.
So we come to him. To celebrate his goodness.
Our smallness. And his bigness.
Even if you never complete a single thing on your bucket list, you’re reminded of how valuable you are to him.
Not because of what you do, He simply loves you.
Not as your should be, but as you are, right now.
Invite you in this moment to simply to be present with him.
May your eyes continue to be opened – to the way of the cross.