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Bible verses about Ecclesiastes, Book of
(From Forerunner Commentary)

On our pilgrimage, we are constantly facing the choice of whether to stay on the path toward the Kingdom of God or cast our lot with the world. What God is exhorting us to do in Ecclesiastes is to stay on the path, because even under the best circumstances—that is, Solomon's life, in which he was endowed with tremendous intelligence, limitless wealth, wisdom, power, discernment, and the ability to do anything he wanted to do—life can be futile. Solomon's conclusions regarding matters are very important to those of us who do not have the powers or the capacities of mind that he had, though we might wish to do the things that he was able to do.

Would we possibly find happiness in doing the things that Solomon did? It is this question that Ecclesiastes addresses. God is showing us through the life of Solomon that apart from God, life is absolutely, absurdly meaningless, regardless of intelligence, beauty, wealth, ability. However, if there is that one aspect missing, then life becomes absolutely meaningless—downright frustrating and hopeless.

If we act on Solomon's conclusion that the end of the whole matter is "fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole man"—a life of faith, of belief in God, of following what God has commanded us to do—life loses its meaninglessness. A person is then enabled to meet the trials of life, knowing that there is a grand purpose in all that is happening.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and the Feast of Tabernacles (Part 2)


 

Ecclesiastes 1:2-3   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Vanity is a word that we are familiar with in another form. It appears early in the Bible as the name given to the second person born on earth, Abel. Adam named him "Vanity." In its simplest form, it signifies a breath, which is comparitively nothing. That is what it means—nothing.

A breath has a short existence. We breath in and breath out, and then we take another one. It lasts for just a second. When we carry out the application of this word, temporariness begins to come to the fore because a person's breath is very temporary and quickly replaced by another and another and another. Vanity describes something that is nothing, impermanent, temporary. But that hardly exhausts its meaning.

This phrase "vanity of vanities" is written in the Hebrewsuperlative form. It is similar in its application as "holy of holies." Another one is the "Song of Songs," sometimes called Canticles or Song of Solomon. Modern translators tend to translate vanity of vanities as "meaningless." A single breath has no meaning to it. Some have gone so far as to translate it "absurd." In a way, this fits the context of Ecclesiastes best because absurd means "irrational," an affront to reason, something that does not fit the order and purpose we seek from life.

That is what Solomon means: Life is absurd. Why do we live? All of our life, we spend working, playing, relating, and at its end, what does a person have to show for what he has done? It is absurd, irrational, meaningless.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and the Feast of Tabernacles (Part 1)


 

Ecclesiastes 3:9-11   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

A beautiful flower blooms, but it is only beautiful for a little while, not always. Even though things are beautiful—and in an overall sense, he means life is beautiful—it is perplexing because we cannot figure out what God is doing. We have a deep desire to understand the beginning from the end. Everyone likes to know how things are going to work out! Everybody would like to know a little bit about what lies ahead in the future for him. But we cannot know, so life perplexes us.

Maybe we want insight into or a sense of something that transcends our immediate situation. But we are left without really knowing all we would wish to know about the future as it relates to the present and what we are experiencing. This has a beautiful purpose in it; God designed it so. He has not told us everything. Why?

It forces His children to live by faith: "The just shall live by faith." Those who trust God will be cognizant of the fact that they cannot control everything and that they must rely, not in their wisdom, abilities, intelligence, power, or money, but in Somebody who is really in control of these things.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and the Feast of Tabernacles (Part 2)


 

Ecclesiastes 11:1-10   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This chapter marks a decisive change in the book in that it not only becomes much more positive than it has been preceding this, but it also becomes more exhortive.

Remember that the term qoheleth means "the lecturer" or "the preacher." The preacher is now calling on the people who are listening to his dissertation to make a decision. He does not say, "You can make any kind of decision you want," but He weighs his advice heavily in one direction. He says, "I want you to make a decision, but this is the decision I think you ought to make."

It becomes positive in its tone and exhortive in terms of making a decision as to what they should do with the knowledge that he has given them thus far. He strongly urges his readers or hearers to cast their lots with God.

This section begins in Ecclesiastes 11:1 and ends in 12:7. There is a sustained theme of exhortation to hold wholeheartedly to the faith and to decisive commitment to obedience to God, regardless of whether life is adverse or comfortable.

Remember that at the beginning of the book he said that life is frustrating. If God is involved in a person's life, he has the opportunity to remove a great deal of the frustration from his life. His relationship with God will take the meaninglessness, the vanity, out of life. But all the children of God are required to make that choice because both choices are still there.

Not only that, but we know from earlier in the book that the life of the person who is living by faith will also be filled with many of the same kind of adversities that those living in vanity are. He has to live with the understanding that many things are out of his control.

The Christian therefore has to deal with this, and the way this is done is to make a decisive commitment to cast his lot to live by faith. If he does that, then Romans 8:28 will be fulfilled in his life. The difficulties will be there, but because the Christian has involved God in the way that he lives his life, then all things will indeed work together for good to those who are the elect and who love God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and the Feast of Tabernacles (Part 2)


 

Ecclesiastes 12:6   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Apparently, these are all metaphors or figures for the value of life—gold and silver. Life is good, Solomon says. Again, he is encouraging us to take advantage of what we have been given before it is too late, because everything will return to the dust, and the spirit will return to the God who gave it (verse 7).

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and the Feast of Tabernacles (Part 2)


 

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Despite our humble, modest circumstances, are we living abundant lives? Despite our lack of toys, a mansion on the lake, or a Rolls-Royce on our driveway, are our lives better than we ever expected? Or do we feel that life has passed us by, serving us the dregs instead of the wine? If so, could it be that we need a change of perspective?

J. Paul Getty, at the time perhaps the richest man in the world, said, "I hate and regret the failure of my marriages. I would gladly give all my millions for just one lasting marital success." He possessed the money to live whatever lifestyle gave him the most satisfaction, but at the end of his life, he came to realize that a good, enduring marriage meant more to him than riches. He died feeling like a failure at what life is really all about.

King Solomon lived a similar life of wealth, power, and privilege. The book of Ecclesiastes chronicles his lifelong experimentation with various lifestyles, projects, possessions, hobbies, and creature comforts. What does he ultimately conclude about how humanity should live?

Solomon's conclusion is totally compatible with Jesus' statement in John 10:10. Jesus did not come promising us wealth, prestige, and authority on earth (although He does promise us these things in the world to come), but He came with good news from His Father about how to attain eternal life (John 6:40). Like Solomon's, His message is very clear, ". . . if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments" (Matthew 19:17).

The big "secret" is that the abundant life is contained in the keeping of God's commandments, in tandem with the grace supplied through Jesus Christ. John writes, "And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" (John 1:16-17, ESV). Jesus came to give man the means by which he could properly keep God's commandments; His grace puts commandment-keeping in its proper place. Once a person is living this way—what Paul calls "walk[ing] in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:16-25)—his life is naturally going to be abundant because he is no longer under the penalties and curses that breaking the law exacts (see verse 18). His life will be pleasing to God, and He will bless him, now and in the life to come (Psalm 19:11; Proverbs 11:18; Matthew 6:33; Revelation 11:18; 22:12)!

Are our lives abundant? Are we reaping the rewards of following God's way of life? Have we begun to enjoy the benefits of keeping God's commandments?

Every Sabbath, we enjoy the benefits of keeping it holy (Exodus 20:8-11), including physical rest, time with our families, fellowship with our brethren, and communion with and instruction from God. It may not be "exciting," but it is living as He wants us to live.

The same is true of keeping the other commandments. If we have happy families and marriages, we are reaping the benefits of keeping the fifth and seventh commandments (verses 12, 14). If people find us trustworthy and honest, we are being rewarded for keeping the eighth and ninth commandments (verses 15-16). If we are content in our circumstances, our peace of mind derives from practicing the tenth commandment (verse 17).

Moreover, if we see spiritual growth taking place, and if we are producing good fruit in our lives, we are experiencing the results of a strengthening relationship with God, encapsulated in the first four commandments (verses 2-11; Matthew 22:37-38). Such a relationship with our Creator is the key to abundant living, for there is no greater, more satisfying accomplishment than that among men!

When we reach this point, we will have learned the godly perspective, and we will know that the life of God we live is definitely abundant living—no matter what our circumstance (Philippians 4:11)!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Are You Living the Abundant Life?


 

Luke 22:44   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Judaism breaks the Old Testament down into three major sections: the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings or Psalms. As an organizational tool, this division of books works well, but it has also served to restrict Bible students to a narrow view of the material in these sections. For instance, some are slow to notice law in the Prophets, wisdom in the Law, prophecy in the Writings, and so on.

On the other hand, commentators have always noted the prophetic character of many of the Psalms. Psalm 22 is obviously prophetic of Christ's suffering and death. Psalm 118 predicts Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem just before He was crucified (Matthew 21:9). Other chapters and verses in the Psalms are also seen as prophetic of Christ's ministry or the work of the church.

But what about some of the other books of the Writings? These include Ruth, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Lamentations, Daniel and the two books of Chronicles. The book of Daniel is certainly prophetic, but the others are considered as historic books or poetry and wisdom literature. Do they have any prophetic significance? Indeed, many of them do.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh


 

 




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