A Sermon You Can’t Ignore: The Book of Ecclesiastes
Ecclesiastes is my favorite book of the Bible. Written as a sermon by an unknown Preacher, the wisdom it contains is both poignant and applicable. And like every sermon, the Preacher has a set of ideas he wants the hearers—you and me—to remember and reflect on.
1. Life Is Hard and Unfulfilling
If the Psalms are known for comfort and the Proverbs for wisdom, the book of Ecclesiastes is known for its utter realism. Nothing about Ecclesiastes is frothy, aloof, or out of reach. It’s one of the most poignant books of the Bible because of its honest assessment of life itself. Contrary to contemporary Christian radio, life isn’t always positive and encouraging. In fact, most of the time life is hard, painful, and not what we expected. This is the message of Ecclesiastes: life is hard, and God is with us.
In other words, in your daily struggle to fight sin, love Jesus, and not blow your life up—God is there. Helping you. Guiding you. Holding you. And the reason we need this message so desperately is that, as Ecclesiastes tells us, “Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity” (Eccl. 1:2 ESV). When we try to medicate our messy lives with the things of earth, we’re left empty. All of our attempts are “chasing after the wind” (Eccl. 2:17). Chasing after status, money, sex, pleasure, control, and possessions are all an attempt, the Preacher says, to grasp what we cannot hold.
2. Life with God Is Simple and Rewarding
The Preacher sums up the entire book of Ecclesiastes in one statement: “Everything is futile” (Eccl. 12:8). At the end of the day, our lives are but dust. We work hard at our jobs, try to serve our loved ones, maintain our homes, and make an impact on the world; but eventually, we die. And as time passes by, we are forgotten (Eccl. 1:11). Our lives are valuable—yes. We are made in the image of God and have a mission from God to reflect and expand the kingdom of God (Matt. 28). But our lives are also far less significant than we think. And accepting this reality opens to us a world of freedom and simplicity. For, as the Preacher says, the only thing that really matters at the end of our lives is that we “fear God and keep his commands” (Eccl. 12:13).
It’s so easy to overthink Christianity. For years I believed that I wasn’t being a faithful Christian if I wasn’t reading through the Bible every year, significantly impacting others around me, and never arguing with my wife. I felt exhausted and, dare I say, unmotivated to follow Jesus. But the Preacher reminds us that life in Christ is much simpler than we make it out to be: “fear God and keep his commands” (Eccl. 12:13) and “rejoice and enjoy the good life” (Eccl. 3:12). That’s it. Fear God: worship him, revere him, have a heart ready to be captivated by him and all his beauty. Keep his commands: do what he says. Rejoice and enjoy the good life: don’t take yourself too seriously. Sit back, relax, and enjoy a good movie and Dr. Pepper to the glory of God.
Ecclesiastes is honest: Life is hard. Everything around us promises to deliver peace but leaves us with longing instead. Yet, in the midst of our struggle and longing, God is there. And he gives us wisdom on how to walk with him while also enjoying the good things he’s given us. So, my friend, let me encourage you to take time to read the Preacher’s sermon, Ecclesiastes.
As you do this, may you find your heart shouting, “Amen!”