GRACE AND PEACE TO YOU. WE ALWAYS THANK GOD FOR ALL OF YOU, MENTIONING YOU IN OUR PRAYERS. WE CONTINUALLY REMEMBER BEFORE OUR GOD AND FATHER YOUR WORK PRODUCED BY FAITH, YOUR LABOUR PROMPTED BY LOVE, AND YOUR ENDURANCE INSPIRED BY HOPE IN OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.
(1 Thessalonians 1: 1-3)
THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES
THE WORDS OF THE TEACHER, SON OF DAVID, KING OF JERUSALEM: “MEANINGLESS! MEANINGLESS!” SAYS THE TEACHER. “UTTERLY MEANINGLESS! EVERYTHING IS MEANINGLESS”. WHAT DOES MAN GAIN FROM ALL HIS LABOUR AT WHICH HE TOILS UNDER THE SUN? (Eccl. 1: 1-3).
NOT ONLY WAS THE TEACHER WISE, BUT ALSO, HE IMPARTED KNOWLEDGE TO THE PEOPLE. HE PONDERED AND SEARCHED OUT AND SET IN ORDER MANY PROVERBS. THE TEACHER SEARCHED TO FIND JUST THE RIGHT WORDS, AND WHAT HE WROTE WAS UPRIGHT AND TRUE. THE WORDS OF THE WISE ARE LIKE GOADS, THEIR COLLECTED SAYINGS LIKE FIRMLY EMBEDDED NAILS – GIVEN BY ONE SHEPHERD. BE WARNED, MY SON, OF ANYTHING IN ADDITION TO THEM. (Ecclesiastes 12: 9-12).
(JESUS SAID) – THEREFORE EVERYONE WHO HEARS THESE WORDS OF MINE AND PUTS THEM INTO PRACTICE IS LIKE A WISE MAN WHO BUILT HIS HOUSE ON THE ROCK. THE RAIN CAME DOWN, THE STREAMS ROSE, AND THE WINDS BLEW AND BEAT AGAINST THAT HOUSE; YET IT DID NOT FALL, BECAUSE IT HAD ITS FOUNDATION ON THE ROCK.
(Matthew 7: 24-25)
In the next few weeks, we are going to study, and MEDITATE on the Book of Ecclesiastes from the Old Testament. Ecclesiastes is not an easy book to analyse. The name of this book, Ecclesiastes, comes from the opening phrase, “The words of the Teacher”. Teacher is the English translation of the Hebrew word Qoheleth, which means “to assemble”. The Greek version of the book was named Ekklésiastés, which also means assembly, or the one who convenes an assembly, and later became universally used by scholars. It is generally agreed that Ecclesiastes is the second book of the Bible written by Solomon; the first being Proverbs. Solomon seems to fit the description of the Teacher. He was the son of David and king of Jerusalem, he possessed great wisdom, indulged in every kind of pleasure, was the builder who finished the Temple, had great wealth, wrote and collected proverbs. If Solomon is indeed the author, then the book was written around 950 BC, near the end of his life.
At the begining of the 1st Book of Kings we read the story of Solomon being anointed as King and the final words of his father David’s advice to him. David told Solomon: …be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go… Final words of fathers are always lasting advice. A significant spiritual experience also occured in Solomon’s life, when God appeared to him in a dream. God told Solomon to ask for whatever he wanted, and God would give it to him. Asking for wisdom, God was pleased with Solomon’s request and granted it, with additional blessings of great riches and honour. According to 2nd Book of Chronicles 1: 12, Solomon would become the wisest and wealthiest man who ever lived. He would have no equal. Solomon is also known for being the author of a major portion of the wisdom literature in the Old Testament. He wrote the book of Proverbs, the Song of Songs, Psalm 72 and Psalm 127, and of course Ecclesiastes. But despite being so blessed, Solomon failed to obey God’s commands, he sinned in the areas of wealth and women, and above all, in remaining faithful to God: –The King made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones and cedar as plentiful as sycamore-fig trees in the foothills (1 Kings 10: 27). He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods…(1 Kings 11: 3-4). At the end of his life Solomon appears to be reviewing and reflecting upon his successes and failures. During his time – under the sun,- he searched for the true meaning of life, and he found it. Generally, Wisdom has been defined by many during the centuries as “learning how not to do something from the mistakes of others, even if it insults the person’s pride”. In the Book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon shares with the reader his experiences away from God: – I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from begining to end (Ecclesiastes 3: 10-11). In the heart of every man there is a God-shaped-vacuum that only God can fill. The only way to find meaning and purpose of life is with God, not apart from Him. Jesus said: – I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10: 10).
Without Christ everything is meaningless, therefore it is foolish not to follow Him and listen to His voice. Do this while you are young: – Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come (Ecclesiastes 12: 1), and do it before it is too late: – For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing whether it is good or evil (Ecclesiastes 12: 14). This is the central message of the Book of Ecclesiastes we are about to study, and it will be a truly faithful experience for the Christ-like people that we are.
Wisdom, to understand how little we know of God and how much we still have to learn. Wisdom, to discern the Lord’s will and to follow it. – Help, to listen to the Word that became flesh in Jesus, to build and anchor our lives in Him, so that our faith, hope and love may be able to face the restless tide of all earthly dangers – including this Coronavirus Pandemic – and still stand firm. Guidance, how to live and pray for others and ourselves, asking God’s blessing on everyone, who is in any kind of need. – Opposition, to what leads to hatred, conflict and violence, and love of everything that fosters love. – Patience, humility and diligence to study and learn what leads to the way, truth and life in Jesus, so that we might live life wisely, finding true fulfilment and honouring God’s will. And… in quietness and confidence present your particuliar prayers to God, remembering always what Jesus had promised: Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Mark 11: 24)
Do not forget THE LORD’S PRAYER, and sum up within it all that you want to pray for, by saying: – OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN….
ABIDE WITH ME – fast falls the eventide; the darkness deepens; Lord with me abide. When other helpers fail, and comforts flee, help of the helpless, O, abide with me.
Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day, earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away; change and decay in all around I see: O Thou who changest not, abide with me!
I need Thy presence every passing hour; what but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power? Who like Thyself my guide and stay can be? Through cloud and sunshine, O, abide with me.
I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless; ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness. Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory? I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.
Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes, shine through the gloom and point me to the skies; heaven’s morning breaks and earth’s vain shadows flee: in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me!
NOW MAY THE LORD OF PEACE HIMSELF GIVE YOU PEACE AT ALL TIMES AND IN EVERY WAY. THE LORD BE WITH ALL OF YOU. (2 Thessalonians 3: 16)