I was traveling on business several years ago, and had the pleasure of spending the weekend in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Being an energetic Christian, I visited a downtown church on Sunday and heard an introductory sermon from the Book of Ecclesiastes. Ironically, I had just been led to read the book for the first time, and I really felt a connection to the words that I read. The sermon was awesome; the choir even sang “Turn Turn Turn” by the Byrds. I had never seen a church (especially one that seemed so traditional) use mainstream music to illustrate a point. Needless to say, I loved every moment of the sermon, and was very disappointed that I couldn’t stay for the entire sermon series.
After I left church that day, I picked up a colleague from his hotel and we went to work. I was so excited about the sermon that I couldn’t help but tell him all about it. As we were driving to the University where we were going to be working, we passed a business called “Under the Sun”. Coincidence…. I don’t think so!
I knew that at some point, I wanted to teach the book of Ecclesiastes! I just felt I was too young to be terribly convincing to most people… I look forward to the day when I can teach this book confidently, but in the meantime, I thought it would be a enjoyable to study the book in more detail.
I am using the NIV Application Commentary to help me though the process. I’ve already read the author’s opening thoughts and saw (at least five times) that Ecclesiastes is “a difficult book.” Maybe that’s true when you go through a line by line study, but from reading the book in its entirety, the theme always seemed perfectly clear to me….
My takeaway from the book of Ecclesiastes is that spending your life chasing mortal pleasures will not make you happy; true joy is only found in finding Christ and that nothing is new “under the sun”. We may think our problems or even our answers are novel and creative, but everything has been done before, and we are not as important we we think we are. Our goal on earth is to prepare us for eternal life in heaven.
My thoughts on the book are likely to change from in-depth study. In fact, the one topic I’ve read about so far is the authorship of the book. I always assumed it was Solomon, but apparently, scholars think that’s unlikely. It’s more likely that the author is not Solomon, but rather someone who could place himself in Solomon’s world, as that royal persona seems to diminish as the book progresses. Interesting….
What I do know is that although the book of Ecclesiastes is difficult and unorthodox, it was included in the Bible for a reason, and while many mainstream churches may avoid preaching from it, it’s worth an in depth study.
I don’t know how much of the study I will include on my blog. My goal is to study the material for myself, and write about the material from a more personal lens. I hope you’ll stick around to see how the material impacts me.
The commentary I purchased also includes Song of Songs….maybe I’ll really jump outside of the box and study that next!
For now, let me pour a glass of wine and get started on the introductory material from the commentary on Ecclesiastes!