Topical Studies

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What the Bible says about Ecclesiastes and the Feast of Tabernacles
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Ecclesiastes 1:11

Verse 11 is the end of the prologue stating where he is headed. It will be the foundation for everything that follows. From here he begins to state why he came to his conclusion.

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

Ecclesiastes 2:25

No one has ever had the qualities, the abilities, and the opportunities Solomon had to test these things.

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

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Ecclesiastes 3 ties directly to the end of the preceding chapter. In Ecclesiastes 2:24, Solomon's approach in writing the book takes a turn. There, he begins to lead the reader toward the more specific details about the repetition of events that everybody experiences. It does not mean everything he mentions occurs to everybody. He is speaking in general terms: There is a time to be born, and a time to die. There is a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted. There is a time to kill, and a time to heal. All these things occur in most people's lives.

The chapter's overall tone is neutral. However, we can take positive value from what Solomon writes. He describes a series of opposites or contrasts. He is leading us to realize that there is a perplexing aspect to this reality: that most of the events he mentions are out of a person's control.

We have no control over when we are born and little or no control over when we die. We have little or no control over when we have to plant things; we must do it according to the seasons that God has arranged. We are also forced to pick what we have planted unless we want to lose it. All these events have aspects beyond our control.

Solomon wants the godly to understand that much of life is beyond human control. We just have to deal with it. If our lives are to mean something worthwhile, we have to deal with this fact: that completely controlling our lives is an act of futility. We can do very little about it. If we fail to deal with this properly, we will live in frustration.

He wants us to understand that human beings are not the masters of their destiny as many would like to think they are. Everyone wants to control his destiny, but Solomon is saying that is vanity. It is frustrating. We can exercise a bit of control, but far more of the events of life will be well beyond our control.

So, what is the positive aspect of Solomon's teaching for us? It is part of what preceded it—Ecclesiastes 2:24: "I saw this was from the hand of God." He also writes in verse 26, "For God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy to a man who is good in His sight." In Ecclesiastes 3, Solomon is saying that that they are not haphazard, but for the godly, God is involved in these events! He is exercising a measure of providential control in the cycle of these occurrences. In other words, He is in control.

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

Ecclesiastes 11:1-10

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

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 12:8-13

Verse 8 reminds the reader where Solomon's treatise began. A person's life will end in vanity if he does not take advantage of the life of faith that God has given to him. His life will simply end in meaninglessness.

Solomon advises us to fear God and keep His commandments. He is saying to eat and drink joyfully, but to do it in balance. We should never lose control of ourselves. We need to work with purpose and do it diligently. It is best to enjoy our marriage with our mate. We are to seek wisdom and use it.

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


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