Eating Up Ecclesiastes
by Joseph Franks
For those working their way through the Bible utilizing the Chronological Reading Plan, you have now made your way to the book of Ecclesiastes. This is one of my favorite books in the Bible. Therefore, because I long for you to cherish and utilize this book properly, I have decided to give you a brief introduction to this work.
The author of the book is qoheleth. This is a Hebrew term that means preacher, teacher, prophet, speaker or leader of an assembly. While one is not given the proper name of the author, Solomon seems to be most probable as the original author. He is the “Son of David.” He is the “King” who “reigned in Jerusalem.” He is the one whose life was characterized by prosperity, education, projects, and pleasure. He is the one who was given wisdom beyond measure. He is a prophet to whom God gives special revelation. And according to my view, he is the one who repents of his transgressions, returns to the faith, and wishes to instruct those following in his footsteps.
With this perspective in mind, the original writing date must have been between 971-931 BC.
This being said, while Solomon could have been the primary author, he might not have been the ultimate author. Later editors could have been inspired by the Holy Spirit.
The theme of Ecclesiastes is the following: empty, skeptical, depression is all that awaits the man who lives his life with only a temporal perspective — a perspective that is under the sun, and without the Son. In Ecclesiastes, the phrase “under the sun” is mentioned 29 times, and “meaningless” is found in over 30 passages. The earthly minded individual is one who will find his life vain, empty, airy, smokey, chaff-like, or in a more modern terminology – cigarette-butt like.
However, throughout the book of Ecclesiastes, the Gospel is found. After every skeptical rant concerning the meaninglessness and futility of life, Solomon takes his readers above the temporal perspective. He looks above the sun and there he sees the Son. And when he does so, all makes sense. Vocation, education, and recreation are good and enjoyable. Former “meaningless things” have great purpose.
And how does the book conclude?
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
The wise man lives his life well under the sun, because he knows he has a future appointment with the Son above the sun.
Therefore friends, as you read this great piece of inspired wisdom literature, be reminded that Solomon had more money, more sex, more fame, more intelligence, more servants, and more power than you will ever have. And despite the blessings of the Lord, it satisfied him not. He found himself miserable and almost suicidal; nothing mattered. Contrarily, with Christ, one can be content and satisfied without all the trinkets and toys of this world. And with Christ, one can be content and satisfied while enjoying all the trinkets and toys of this world given to you by the Son.