The book of Ecclesiastes is an unflinchingly honest look at our pursuit of happiness in a fallen world. More than any other Bible book, it captures the futility and frustration that often accompanies life ‘under the sun’. For this reason, the great American novelist Herman Melville called it ‘the truest of books’.
The author introduces himself in the first verse as ‘the Teacher, the son of David, King of Jerusalem’. This identifies him with King Solomon, the king who ruled Israel after his father David. While Solomon started his reign wisely, he ended up pursuing pleasure and satisfaction in the world. Ecclesiastes was the result. This is a book about how meaningless life is if we live without any reference to God.
But this is not just a book for those who don’t believe in God. The Teacher believes in God and yet struggles to make sense of a world that is often unjust and unfair. He is honest about how fleeting happiness can be even for those who trust God. Even for a believer, life can be perplexing at times, contentment can be elusive, relationships can be hard, work can be tedious and death is a looming reality.
The Teacher asks the questions we hesitate to ask about the issues we struggle to face. But while his conclusions are sometimes shocking, his honesty is not intended to wound but heal. He never gives in completely to cynicism or disillusionment. While he refuses to minimise the harsh reality of life in a fallen world, he urges us to find joy in the everyday gifts of God and trust him even when life doesn’t make sense.
Ultimately, as we study Ecclesiastes in the light of the gospel, we also see that there is only one way to find lasting joy in a fallen world and that is by knowing Jesus - the Teacher who was greater than Solomon and who will one day come as judge and make everything right.
Before starting this sermons series Richard did a training morning on the book of Ecclesiastes. It's a great introduction to the book and well worth watching. You can download the handouts that go alongside this video here
A great book to read alongside these sermons is Destiny by David Gibson - click on the picture to find out more and how to buy it.
September - December 2021
1:1-14 Searching for Meaning
1:12-2:26 Searching for Happiness
3:1-22 Searching for Perspective
4:1-16 Searching for Friendship
5:1-7 Searching for Worship
5:8-6:12 Searching for Prosperity
7:1 – 8:1 Searching for Wisdom
8:2-15 Searching for Leadership
January - March 2022
8:16-9:1-12 Searching for Peace
9:13-10:20 Searching for Direction
11:1-6 Searching for a Return
11:7-12:7 Searching for Life
12:8-14 Why Everything Matters