BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday October 27, 2013
WHY DO I FEEL EMPTY?
(How does my worship impact my view of life?)
Ecclesiastes 3:1-15, 4:9-12 & 5:1-7
In Ecclesiastes 3, verses 1-15, Solomon continues his demonstration of how life is “meaningless” without GOD. This passage teaches us that there really is “a time for all things” and that GOD is the ONE WHO gives significance to the seasons of life.
This book’s “unique nature” must be taken into consideration when we understand its message. While, like all of Scripture, it is surely a message from GOD HIMSELF, in these particular writings, GOD seems to allow Solomon to present it to us from a very “humanistic standpoint”. The contribution of importance to our existence, that this book gives us, is that, “it speaks to the core of our feeling of emptiness” that we get when we alienate ourselves from GOD.
As we read through the book of Ecclesiastes, we immediately begin to see more clearly, our own faults, as well as the faults of others, and we also become more sensitive to “human need”, both ours, and, the needs of others. This serves to help us greatly because, after all, isn’t that the criterion by which JESUS says HE will Judge us in Matthew 25, verses 31-46? There HE tells us that we will be judged according to our reaction to human need (how we respond to the needs of our fellowman).
In Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, one of the most familiar passages in all of Scripture, Solomon turns his attention to how “the law of nature” effects “the human experience” and renders man helpless to control “the onset” or “outcome” of any event in his life. And if man thinks he can control his own life, it is at best, just an illusion, and he is sadly mistaken.
The “seasons of time” will always govern, or dictate “the way we need to react to survive”. When we know GOD, we respond in the right way. And when we don’t know GOD, our response becomes, little more than a detriment to our own existence.
Solomon tells us in verses 9-15, that, he completely understands, that, whatever GOD does is final, and nothing can be added to, or taken away, from it. GOD purposes that people should fear HIM because of who HE is. HE is the CREATOR, PRODUCER, and DIRECTOR of the play called “life”. And HE alone, already knows just how the play will end. We are merely “the cast” that HE allows to take part in HIS production, and we can only partake, or live, in “one scene at a time”. When our role has run its course, HE simply writes us out, and the “big picture” continues to roll on towards its pre-determined end.
In a very real sense, “the events of this life”, or, “scenes” in “GOD’s great production”, have a way of repeating themselves (cuts and re-takes). That is because, it is GOD’s OWN way of trying to teach us how to “live this life”, or, “perform our roles” in ways that are pleasing to HIM. The response that GOD wants man to have to “HIS unchangeable plan”, is one of fear and reverence, and humble submission to HIM.
We must remember that, the “hunger” and “thirst” that GOD places in each of us, innately from birth, can only be satisfied through our seeking, and ultimately finding HIM. GOD does not hide HIMSELF from those who are earnestly seeking HIM, as HE remains in the same place that HE has always been. A person has to choose to separate himself, or herself, away from GOD, GOD will never choose to separate HIMSELF away from us.
GOD is the same yesterday, and today, and HE will also be precisely the same tomorrow. HE does not move from us, but rather, we choose to remove ourselves from HIM. GOD is “the seasoning” that adds significance to the life HE created, and without HIM, life will never be anything but meaningless.
In Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, Solomon focuses his thoughts for a moment on “companionship”, and the advantages people can enjoy when they work together, instead of trying to struggle alone in this world. A person who is alone in the world has no one to work with, or for, and no one with which to share the fruits of their labor. This can be a depressing thought as one grows older. On the other hand, two or, even three people, working together, can accomplish more than twice as much as one, and, they get a better return for their labor (v.9). If one person falls, then the other person can reach out and help, whereas, a person working alone can be in serious trouble if they fall (v.10). And a person standing alone will be more easily defeated than two or three standing together. This passage seems to exude “common sense”, doesn’t it?
In chapter 5, verses 1-7, Solomon gives advice on “the importance of fearing GOD”. “Rituals” without “relationship”, or “religion” without “personal faith”, is meaningless before GOD. It is a “fool” who goes through the motions of worship, and never realizes that he doesn’t really know GOD. Even his sacrifices (tithes) are meaningless before GOD (v.1).
And Solomon says that we should never make rash (emotional) promises to GOD that we are not prepared to keep, for GOD takes no pleasure in fools (v.4). It is better to say nothing at all, than it is to promise something, and not follow through with it (v.5). Do not cause your mouth to sin, and don’t make excuses, or try and defend one’s self by saying the promise you made, and failed to follow through on, was a “mistake”. Such things makes GOD very angry, Solomon says, and HE might just wipe out everything that you have gained, for there is much ruin in “a flood of empty words” (Vs.6-7).
Remember, there truly is “a time for all things”, but there can never be a right time to try and live life apart from GOD. For, to try and do that, would be “choosing to live an empty, meaningless existence”, that could spell “death”, in the biblical sense.
This literary masterpiece by Solomon, through the inspiration of GOD, will long serve to remind us of this most fundamental of all “truths”. It is a fact, because it has been proven over and over again, down through the annals of time. And that truth is, “Without GOD, man can’t do anything right, for too long”.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website