DashHouse.com

The Blog of Darryl Dash

This blog is about how Jesus changes everything. He changes:

Our relationship with God

Our relationship with others

Our vocations - how we live and work in this world

Our ministries

This blog exists to explore some of the ways that Jesus changes everything. It provides resources and articles that will help you think about the ways that Jesus can change every part of your life.

The Lord himself invites you to a conference concerning your immediate and endless happiness, and He would not have done this if He did not mean well toward you. Do not refuse the Lord Jesus who knocks at your door; for He knocks with a hand which was nailed to the tree for such as you are. Since His only and sole object is your good, incline your ear and come to Him. Hearken diligently, and let the good word sink into your soul. (C.H. Spurgeon, All of Grace)

What Life's All About (Ecclesiastes 12:1-14)

  • I never have had the privilege of hiring a teacher or a preacher
  • if I did, I would look for someone who is INTERESTING
  • I would want to hire someone who kept me engaged in what they were teaching
  • I would want someone who is WISE
  • it wouldn't matter how interesting they are - if they didn't know what they're talking about, why should I listen?
  • wise people ask the tough questions and aren't afraid to tackle the tough issues
  • I think I would also have to be RELEVANT
  • I heard somewhere that many preachers are answering questions that no-one's ever asked
  • it's so much better to hear somebody address the real issues that we face rather than hypothetical issues that don't really matter to us
  • once in a while you find a teacher or preacher who is interesting, wise, and relevant
  • and when you do, watch out!
  • be prepared to experience life-changing teaching
  • I've found such a teacher
  • (Ecclesiastes 12:9) 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.
  • (Ecclesiastes 12:10) The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true.
  • (Ecclesiastes 12:11) The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails--given by one Shepherd.
  • (Ecclesiastes 12:12) Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.
  • we read of this Teacher who was wise and orderly and careful in his teaching
  • his words were like "goads" and "nails" - his words both prodded the reader and nailed things down
  • the Teacher even claimed that his words were unique in that they were given by one Shepherd - in other words, that they were inspired by God
  • I don't know about you, but I've found his teaching very interesting
  • American novelist Thomas Wolfe said, "Ecclesiastes is the greatest single piece of writing I have ever known, and the wisdom expressed in it is the most lasting and profound"
  • the teacher - we've assumed that it's King Solomon, although we're not sure - has examined life from every angle
  • I've given you a list of the concerns he had about life
  • this morning I want to summarize what I believe are the key points of his message
  • it is my conviction that Ecclesiastes speaks to our human condition today, and has much to say in 1997 to the issues we face in life
  • the message of Ecclesiastes is a message we ignore at our peril; so let me conclude this series of thirteen messages with the key points of the book that we have studied
  • we will conclude by looking at the Teacher's own summary of his search
  • PRINCIPLE ONE: WE ARE ALL ON A SPIRITUAL SEARCH
  • the first thing that screams to me in the book of Ecclesiastes is that all human beings are essentially on a spiritual quest
  • we all ask the big questions: why are we here? what is our purpose in life?
  • the questions of meaning in life are fundamentally human questions: they belong to humans and not to animals
  • the book begins:
  • (Ecclesiastes 1:1) The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem:
  • (Ecclesiastes 1:2) "Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless."
  • the author's quest was to find meaning in life, and he came up empty
  • the Teacher tells of his search in many different areas - wisdom, work, pleasure, prestige
  • but every time, he came up empty
  • so you'll see that the book of Ecclesiastes is primarily a book about the search for meaning in life - a search that ends in frustration when we look in the wrong places
  • look at your life
  • isn't it true that your thoughts are about more than food to eat and clothes to wear?
  • if we were not on a spiritual quest, we would worry about nothing more than our physical needs
  • but all of us ask what we could call spiritual questions: questions of meaning and purpose
  • men and women have a universal curiosity and hunger for God
  • PRINCIPLE TWO: THE THRILLS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF THIS LIFE ARE INCAPABLE OF SATISFYING OUR SPIRITUAL SEARCH
  • in Ecclesiastes, the Teacher examined every avenue in an effort to find spiritual fulfillment
  • Solomon was on a quest to live a fulfilled life, to find satisfaction in life
  • he experimented with life and tried many things we try today
  • he tried pleasure - we try pleasure
  • he tried wealth - we dream about wealth
  • he tried education - we think education will help us "arrive"
  • we desire social prestige; so did Solomon
  • many of us think, "If only..."
  • "If only I could live a life of pleasure!"
  • "If only I could get that next degree!"
  • "If only I could get a better spouse!" or "any spouse"
  • "If only my career was going better"
  • Solomon tried all these things
  • and he was the ideal person to write this book, because he possessed all the wealth, wisdom, and opportunities to carry out these "experiments"
  • but do you know what? all these experiments failed
  • Solomon found that all these thrills and accomplishments were inadequate to satisfy the deep longings of his soul
  • a young man took a trip to South America
  • the child of a successful businessman, he had everything you could desire - challenge, opportunity, promise, and money
  • there was the forty-five foot sailboat, the Harley-Davidson motorcycle, the glistening black Pontiac GTO, the airplane, credit cards, and trips to Aspen, Europe, and Africa
  • near the end of a trip to South America, he had dinner in the top floor of a restaurant that overlooked the Cop caba?a Beach in Rio de Janeiro, which was then considered the jet-setting capital of the world
  • as he sat in the restaurant pondering the yearnings of his soul and the direction of his life, he overheard the conversation of a sixtyish couple sitting near him
  • "Well, its all been worth it," they said to one another
  • "All the years of working and saving have finally become worth it now that we are on this vacation and enjoying this evening"
  • the young man was overwhelmed by the absurdity of it all
  • years and years of hard labor so that one day they could eat a meal in a restaurant overlooking the Cop caba?a Beach?
  • he returned to his room, fell on his knees, and said, "God, there has got to be more to my life than this"
  • Cop caba?a Beach is nice
  • Harley-Davidson motorcycles are nice
  • so are trips and credit cards and wealth
  • but they're not enough
  • they don't satisfy the hunger of the human soul
  • many of the things we are tempted to chase after are basically meaningless; unsatisfactory; empty
  • we need to hear the words of Solomon who did many of these things and found that ultimately, they don't deliver the lasting satisfaction that they promise
  • securing all possible physical possessions - wealth, health, and family - does nothing to ensure an enduring reward or life after the grave
  • riches are inherently unsatisfying - they are never enough; someone always desires to take them away, and the produce misery and worry in this life
  • they are temporary and provide no real security
  • having a long life and many children does not guarantee earthly satisfaction
  • the joy of a child's laughter can fade over the years, and children's love for their parents may turn to apathy or resentment
  • even if a person is religious, he is quickly forgotten after he dies
  • it's evident in the book of Ecclesiastes that the pleasures and accomplishments of life do not meet our deepest needs
  • PRINCIPLE THREE: LIFE PRESENTS SOME TROUBLING MYSTERIES
  • the more Solomon searched for the meaning of life, the more he discovered that life is unfair, that human wisdom is insufficient, and that death continually laughs in our faces
  • one man described life as a "blister on top of a tumor, and a boil on top of that"
  • Solomon would ultimately agree with that assessment
  • as Solomon observed life, he witnessed the futility of life
  • in life, wickedness abounds; there is constant oppression, often with no-one to comfort
  • what do we say to the triplets of injustice, ignorance, and death?
  • this is what Solomon said:
  • (Ecclesiastes 4:2) And I declared that the dead, who had already died, are happier than the living, who are still alive.
  • (Ecclesiastes 4:3) But better than both is he who has not yet been, who has not seen the evil that is done under the sun.
  • let's be honest: life does present some troubling mysteries
  • there are many things we can't understand - so much so, that we can understand when someone despairs of life
  • PRINCIPLE FOUR: DESPITE THE MYSTERIES OF LIFE AND THE REALITY OF DEATH, WE MUST STILL RESOLVE TO ENJOY LIFE AND TO LIVE TO THE FULLEST
  • over and over again in the book of Ecclesiastes, the Teacher tells us to enjoy life:
  • (Ecclesiastes 9:7) Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do.
  • (Ecclesiastes 9:8) Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil.
  • (Ecclesiastes 9:9) Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun-- all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun.
  • (Ecclesiastes 9:10) Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.
  • instead of giving in, Ecclesiastes ultimately concludes that life is a gift from God to be enjoyed
  • at one point the Teacher illustrates this by saying even the lowest of the low - a dog - alive is better than the greatest of the great - a lion - that is dead
  • as much as he acknowledges the injustice and oppression in this world, he concludes that the best approach is to accept our lot in life and find contentment and enjoyment right where we are
  • to accept life as a wonderful gift from God
  • PRINCIPLE FIVE: LIVE LIFE, BEGINNING NOW, IN A WAY THAT PLEASES GOD
  • we're now looking at the last chapter of the book of Ecclesiastes
  • in chapter 11, we were told to live life to the fullest because it is short and the future is uncertain
  • in chapter 12, we are told to live life wisely because it is short and the future is uncertain
  • but one thing is certain about our future: we will die
  • furthermore, the process of dying is not an experience filled with pleasure, but with sorrow
  • that's why Solomon tells us that time to serve God is now - before we lose the ability to enjoy life
  • (Ecclesiastes 12:1) Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, "I find no pleasure in them"
  • the term translated "remember" means to "act decisively on behalf of someone"
  • what Solomon is saying is this: "Act decisively on behalf of God while you are young"
  • don't waste time living a life of meaninglessness
  • don't wait until you're white-haired before you respond
  • honor God now with your life, because sooner or later your powers to enjoy life will deteriorate
  • what follows in verses 2 to 8 is a picture of the aging and dying process
  • the writer gives us metaphors to describe old age
  • we won't look at this passage in detail, and it's important to realize that students don't agree on all the details of interpretation
  • but what we see here is the gradual deterioration that occurs with aging and that leads ultimately to death
  • (Ecclesiastes 12:6) Remember him--before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well,
  • (Ecclesiastes 12:7) and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
  • (Ecclesiastes 12:8) "Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Everything is meaningless!"
  • we are instructed to turn to God while there is still time to discover the meaning of life and alter the course of our lives
  • serve God while you still have your wits about you, while you can still enjoy life, and before you lose the fullest capacity to think of God's purposes and desires
  • the message of Ecclesiastes is clear: enjoy what you can, but be ever mindful of the transitory nature of life and the inevitable reality of death
  • live for God, and give him your best years
  • a man came rushing up to a ferry, breathless after running at a terrific pace, but he got there just as the gateman shut the door in his face
  • a bystander remarked, "You didn't run fast enough"
  • the disappointed man answered, "I ran fast enough, but I didn't start on time"
  • to accomplish the most for God in our lifetimes, we must start early, in the days of our youth
  • read with me the conclusion of the book of Ecclesiastes:
  • (Ecclesiastes 12:13) Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
  • (Ecclesiastes 12:14) For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.
  • these verses, which form the conclusions of the Teacher's search for meaning, urge us to do three things that summarize his message
  • first, we're urged to have a right relationship with God (fear God)
  • the word "fear" is another word for reverence or worship
  • we must give God the reverence and awe that come from our love for him and a respect for his power and his greatness
  • Ecclesiastes concludes by saying, take God seriously
  • life only makes sense as we surrender ourselves to God and serve him first
  • second, we're urged to maintain that relationship by following the law (keep his commandments)
  • according to this passage, this is the chief end of man; the whole duty
  • third, anticipate a final and future judgment
  • we may get away with disobedience today, but God will bring everything to judgment one day
  • the command is this: act decisively on God's behalf
  • believe in him
  • the abundant life he promised is available this morning
  • Jesus said:
  • (Matthew 6:33) But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
  • is life worth living?
  • absolutely, but life only makes sense with God
  • you can continue your search for meaning elsewhere, but like the Teacher, you'll find only frustration and emptiness
  • or you can come to God this morning and find the answer to our deepest needs
  • you can receive life in Christ, and begin leading the abundant life today