Offer Them Christ
The Weblog Of J.F. Howard

Life’s Ultimate Questions

            Do you ever think about life’s ultimate questions? I’ve made a list of interesting questions that I’ve heard over the years. Here are a few of them:

How do you know when yogurt goes bad?
If soap is used to make you clean, why does it leave a scum?

If the police arrest a mime, do they have to tell him he has the right to remain silent?

If you spend your day doing nothing, how do you know when you’re done?

What is another word for thesaurus?

Should vegetarians eat animal crackers?
Shouldn’t there be a shorter word for monosyllabic?
What’s another word for synonym?
Why do airlines call flights nonstop? Won’t they all stop eventually?

Why do we drive on parkways but park on driveways?
Why do we have hot water heaters?
Why do we play in recitals and recite in plays?

How come you press harder on a remote control when you know the battery is dead?
How is it possible to have a civil war?
            Some of those questions are silly, but there are some questions that are really important, that all of us ponder at some point in our lives:

Who am I?

Why am I here?

Where am I going?

What happens when I die?

What is the meaning of life?

            One of my favorite writings in the Bible comes from the Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes.

            The entire writing is the record of one person’s search to find the answers to life’s ultimate questions.

            It describes a quest to find the meaning of life.

            Over the next several Sundays, I want to walk through Ecclesiastes and here the experiences and wisdom of its writer, who is called “The Teacher.”

            In his book Living on the Ragged Edge: Finding Joy in a World Gone Mad, author Charles Swindoll gives us some helpful background on the book of Ecclesiastes. He calls it:    

The Five “W’s” of Ecclesiastes

Who wrote it? Since the author didn’t give his name, but referred to himself only as “the teacher” or “preacher” (Hebrew: Qōheleth, Greek: ekklēsiastēs), we cannot be certain. However, most of the evidence suggests that King Solomon was the author. We can conclude this because the writer identified himself as a son of David and king over Israel in Jerusalem (Ecclesiastes 1:1, 12). He also said he was the wisest person to rule Jerusalem (1:16), built extensive projects (2:4-6), and had great wealth (2:7-8). 
 
What is it? Ecclesiastes is probably best understood as a “journal” of Solomon’s reflections on meaning and purpose from the world’s limited perspective. It is his presentation of evidence and conclusions based on observations and experiences for those who have neither the time nor the resources to take the journey themselves.

 

Where was it written? Solomon said repeatedly that he was king over Jerusalem in Israel (1:1, 12), and this book was probably written there.
 
When was it written? Ecclesiastes was probably written about 925 BC, toward the end of Solomon’s life. As an old man, Solomon wisely reflected on his journey through life, including his drift away from and back to God.

 

Why was it written? While affirming a high view of God’s sovereignty and humanity’s utter dependence on Him (Ecclesiastes 3:4), Ecclesiastes was written to show that life apart from God is empty and meaningless. Verse 2:11 says, “Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after the wind and there was no profit under the sun.” Yet Solomon ended by saying, “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep his commandments” (12:13). While life apart from God is frustrating, life with God and enjoying His gifts with thanksgiving can be abundant, regardless of our daily circumstances.

            Go ahead and take some time and read through Ecclesiastes. You’ll be glad you did. Then come join me on Sunday mornings for the series: Searching (for the meaning of life).

            I’ll be looking for you.

 

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