The conclusion of the matter (Ecclesiastes 12:9-14)

I’ve made it. I’ve finished my search for meaning. Ecclesiastes. 12 chapters, 38 talks, a lockdown project completed. Now here is the conclusion of the matter. And is the time to act.

Thank you for joining with me. My Bible Bites project will continue next in the New Testament. Paul’s letter from lockdown to the church in Philippi. I won’t post a link to each talk on my blog, but rather I refer you to my You Tube channel and invite you to subscribe. I will link to these Bible Bibles from Facebook.

 

Before we grow too old (Ecclesiastes 12:1-8)

None of us are getting any younger. Things get harder. We have less energy. There are more and more trips to the doctor. Life will become more and more a spectator sport. Youth, vitality, health and vigour are all short-lived. So how should we live? Remember your creator in the days of your youth.

Enjoy your youth (Ecclesiastes 11:7-10)

Sometimes I feel like I’m the same age as I was 40 years ago. Other times I feel every day of my age plus a few years more! Ours is a world that worships youth. Good looks, sports, relationships, living it up—that’s what life is all about. Or is it? Where will be find hope when what we live for fades away? Enjoy your youth. You won’t have it for ever. And when it is gone, then can be something better still.

 

Arrogance and anxiety (Ecclesiastes 11:1-6)

Who can tell the future? Could anyone have predicted the year we have just experienced? For all that we can predict, and all that we now understand, we still have so much uncertainty. Some people seem unfazed by what lies ahead, and charge into life with bravado and arrogance. Others are crippled by anxiety and fear. There is a better way.

Mixing politics and religion (Ecclesiastes 10:16-20)

Common sense isn’t that common—even among leaders and rulers. Aussies make sport of their leaders and we love cutting down tall poppies. And yet leaders need our support, encouragement and respect. Not without critique, but with a commitment to their welfare and our society’s welfare. They have a tough job and we dependent upon them doing it well. God calls us to pray for our leaders.

Gracious words (Ecclesiastes 10:12-15)

Crazy talk can damage and destroy people. Bold assertions about the future display arrogance and often go before a fall. By contrast, gracious words build, encourage, and give life to others. Words have huge potential to bless—if we use them wisely, carefully, graciously. Words have the power to be a means of grace, to carry the message of eternal life.

Foolishness leaves a bad smell (Ecclesiastes 10:1-11)

As dead flies give perfume a bad smell,
    so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.
The heart of the wise inclines to the right,
    but the heart of the fool to the left.
Even as fools walk along the road,
    they lack sense
    and show everyone how stupid they are.

(Ecclesiastes 10:1-3)

Some fools are very clever, shrewd, and intelligent people. There is much more to foolishness than low IQ. It’s seen in the impact of our decisions, the quality of our choices, the fruit of our lips, and the way we treat others others. Fools can be recognised by their their self-obsession and blatant disregard for God.

David, Goliath, and Steve Bradbury (Ecclesiastes 9:11-12)

Unexpected things happen. The future is impossible to predict with certainty. We can’t control it and we waste effort worrying about it. God knows what lies ahead and he invites us to trust him every step of the way.

Life is for living (Ecclesiastes 8:16-9:10)

Have you found Ecclesiastes to be rather depressing? Have you identified with the experience and observations of the author? Have you had any ‘aha’ experiences as you’ve heard the analysis of life? While death is the destiny that awaits us all, there’s a life to be lived before then. Ecclesiastes is not nihilistic. It’s life affirming.

Anyone who is among the living has hope—even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!  (9:4)

Final justice (Ecclesiastes 8:10-15)

‘Final justice’. It sounds like the title of a Schwarzenegger movie. Evil dudes getting away with heinous crimes, and plots to destroy society, and for gratuitously killing Arnie’s wife and daughter. A big mistake! Schwarzenegger shows his big guns and blows them all away. We cheer the destruction of the bad guys because deep down we believe that injustice should be punished and people brought to account. Ecclesiastes touches a few nerves as it explores the heartaches of unpunished evil and the question of final justice.

Stand up or shut up? (Ecclesiastes 8:1-9)

God calls his people to submit to those in authority. But is there ever a time for civil disobedience? What happens if the state outlaws Christianity? What then? When do I take a stand and when do I shut up?

(Spoiler alert: I have now finished working through Ecclesiastes and there will be 38 episodes in total. I’ve been uploading these brief messages to my macarisms blog to make them available to people. However, this isn’t the best delivery medium for video. It is better to subscribe to my YouTube channel to access all the talks and watch in sequence or pick out selected topics. I will complete Ecclesiastes on macarisms, but after that I recommend subscribing to YouTube. It’s very easy – just click on the video link and you will be taken to You Tube where you can hit the Subscribe button.)

The pursuit of wisdom (Ecclesiastes 7:19-29)

Some things make claims to wisdom but are, in fact, the height of foolishness. Some things clearly make more sense than others, yet their wisdom is limited. One thing looks foolish beyond description but is, in reality, the source of ultimate wisdom.

Let God be God (Ecclesiastes 7:13-18)

As I worked through this section of Ecclesiastes, I realised that I’d been inadvertently claiming to know more than God. I’d been saying, in effect, “If I were God, I’d do a better job than God is doing now.” Arrogance had been lurking in my heart that I’d not even seen. The ways of God are difficult to comprehend, but I do believe they can be trusted.

Gaining Wisdom (Ecclesiastes 7:7-12)

The way of wisdom is to consider things in context, to look at the bigger picture, and to see where things are headed. We can be overwhelmed if we merely focus on what’s happening now. God has a plan and there are good reasons for hope. Ecclesiastes pushes us to seek his perspective.

 

The danger of FOMO (Ecclesiastes 6:1-6)

They say not to judge a book by its cover. I say don’t judge a person’s enjoyment, happiness, or satisfaction by their Instagram posts. You don’t really know what their lives are like or where their hearts are at. It’s so easy to envy an image, and it’s so meaningless. Why would 3D look at 2D and say, “I wish I was just like her!”?

 

Good gifts from God (Ecclesiastes 5:18-20)

God has given us good things for our enjoyment. We should enjoy what we’ve been given and thank the giver. But be careful not to turn the good things into ultimate things.

Please subscribe to the talks on my YouTube channel. My apologies, but if you have previously subscribed, then you may need to hit the subscribe button again. I have had to move the Ecclesiastes talks to a new channel where we will be uploading regular Bible Bites. Thanks.

You can’t take it with you (Ecclesiastes 5:13-17)

You Can’t Take It With You by Paul Kelly

You might have a happy family, nice house, fine car
You might be successful in real estate
You could even be a football star
You might have a prime-time TV show seen in every home and bar
But you can’t take it with you

You might own a great big factory, oil wells on sacred land
You might be in line for promotion, with a foolproof retirement plan
You might have your money in copper, textiles or imports from Japan
But you can’t take it with you

You can’t take it with you though you might pile it up high
It’s so much easier for a camel to pass through a needle’s eye

You might have a body of fine proportion and a hungry mind
A handsome face and a flashing wit, lips that kiss and eyes that shine
There might be a queue all around the block
Long before your starting time
But you can’t take it with you

You might have a great reputation so carefully made
And a set of high ideals, polished up and so well displayed
You might have a burning love inside, so refined, such a special grade
But you can’t take it with you

Inspiring words by Paul Kelly, inspired by the words of Jesus. There are eternal risks in living for stuff that we can’t take with us anyway.