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Purpose: Provide an self-explaining outline for the Book of Ecclesiastes
An outline of the Book of Ecclesiastes is not easily developed.
Solomon did not persuade his audience by a simple progression of logical thoughts but instead utilized an overlapping of descriptions that conjured up different feelings and questions about life.
He knew that the ones who needed to read this book were least likely to. They were busy enjoying life. These are the ones who were wildly driving down the highway not knowing that it ended with a cliff. He substituted powerful statements that would seize his reader's attention and slowly turn them back to God. Throughout this book are small sections where Solomon shared his own conclusions.
1) Create doubt and suspicion a person who lives without God the Creator
2) Persuade men to live for His Creator God
Ecclesiastes is what is called a pre-evangelistic tract. Its purpose is not to explain how to be reconciled with God but to persuade them to think how God needs to be the center of their lives.
Ecclesiastes encourages us to contemplate the meaning of our lives in light of the presence of God the Creator. This is a very applicative message for our generation. Our world is bent on squeezing out the sacred so that it can live for the world's vanity. Solomon demonstrates his theme with his own life and shares insight as to how secularism proves to be ultimately false and unfulfilling.
When man lives apart from God, it is more than a religious statement. He is forcing the meaning of life to be centered around his own perspective. While he is living, man manages to avoid all of life's inconsistencies. But when facing death, his reference point suddenly disappears (11:8).
The meaning in life goes from tragic to horror. The conclusion is to make God your prime reference point for living. Live for God. Make your decisions in light of what He considers to be right and wrong. This is the only way to find real meaning in life.
The young person might easily conclude that meaning in life comes through fun or work, but as one gets older, these conclusions are not so evident and in fact downright untrue. If the world really existed without a God, then we should be able to find contentment in pleasure, projects and exploration themselves. It does not, however. Meaning in life instead comes from living our lives in His presence. For example, just by remembering the Lord’s kindness toward us by enabling us to enjoy the simple activities of eating and drinking.
Life can seem very unfair, but we need to realize it is not the possession of riches or the accomplishment of great things which make a great life, but the enjoyment of what God has given to you. It is not the number of years but how much a person can objectively see God’s good hand in his life.
The mature person might conclude that meaning in life comes through a good fair life. They could be comfortable with what they see around them–the good being properly rewarded and the evil man being punished. Instead however, the more we look around, the more we are satisfied with what we see on earth. Our whole concern for fairness and justice reflects the presence of a moral God.
Despair popped up everywhere in life. Nothing seemed to work right, at least when man lived and observed life apart from the Lord. Even after his life of searching, Solomon could not figure out everything. He encouraged us to do the most wise thing–seek the Lord from where wisdom, justice and life itself came.
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