"THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES"
The Preacher's Observations - II (5:1-6:12)
INTRODUCTION 1. The Preacher has been explaining WHY he reached his conclusion that life "under the sun" is vanity... a. Based upon his personal experience - 1:1-2:26 b. Based upon his personal observations - 3:1-6:12 2. In chapters 3 and 4, we saw where he discussed... a. The inexplicable purpose of God b. The injustice and oppression of men c. The vanity of skillful and selfish work 3. Even so, he offered wisdom for living "under the sun"... a. It is best to rejoice, do good, and enjoy the good of one's labor, realizing that such is a gift of God to those who please Him - 3:12-13 b. To appreciate the value of friends who can help us in time of work and need - 4:9-10 [In chapters 5 and 6, he offers more wisdom as he continues to share his wisdom for living "under the sun". Notice his...] I. COUNSEL REGARDING WORSHIP A. WHY PROPER WORSHIP IS IMPORTANT... 1. Remember, the ability to enjoy the good of one's labor is a gift from God - 2:24-26; 3:12-14; 6:19 2. It is imperative that we please Him in our worship a. There is "vain worship", you know - cf. Mt 15:7-9 b. Therefore not all worship is acceptable to God B. HOW TO WORSHIP GOD... 1. Walk prudently - 5:1a a. Both the NIV and NASB say "Guard your steps" b. When one worships... 1) They should give thought to what they will do 2) They should be careful what they will do 2. Draw near to hear - 5:1b a. We should be concerned with learning what God has revealed b. Our attitude should be like that of... 1) Young Samuel ("Speak, LORD, for Your servant hears.")- 1Sa 3:9-10 2) The Bereans ("they received the word with all readiness") - Ac 17:11 3. Do not offer the sacrifice of fools - 5:1c a. Again, not all worship is acceptable b. There is that kind of worship... 1) That is an abomination to God - Pr 28:9 2) That the Lord will not accept - cf. Lk 6:46 4. Don't be rash with your vows (promises) - 5:2-3 a. Be careful what you say; remember... 1) Jephthah's foolish vow - Judg 11:30-35 2) Herod's foolish promise - Mk 6:23-26 b. Give thought to what you say in prayer and song 1) Do you consider the vows of commitment that are often made? 2) Do you intend to keep them? 5. Keep the vows you make - 5:4-7 a. God has no pleasure in fools 1) Such as those who make vows and do not fulfill them 2) Therefore it is better not to vow, then to vow and not pay b. Don't let your mouth cause you to sin 1) Why make God angry, and destroy the work of your hands? 2) Many words lead to vanity, and sin - cf. Pr 10:19; Mt 12:36-37 [The key thought in proper worship is to "fear God", that is, to approach Him with the deepest respect and reverence. Worship Him as He directs, not as you might wish. "Swift to hear, slow to speak" (Ja 1:19) should be our attitude in worship if we wish to please God! In the next two verses of our text, we see a word of...] II. COMFORT REGARDING OPPRESSION A. OPPRESSION DOES OCCUR... 1. As the Preacher observed in 3:16 2. And again in 4:1 B. YET THE PREACHER SAYS DO NOT MARVEL... 1. Even when there is oppression of the poor and perversion of justice - 5:8a 2. For even high officials answer to someone else - 5:8b; cf.Ro 13:1 a. Often in this life they are brought to justice b. But even if not, then there is the Day of Judgment! 3. The profit taken in oppression usually comes back to all - 5:9 a. Those who oppress others to gain much rarely consume it all b. What profit from the land they gain "trickles down" eventually [Of course, oppression of the poor and perversion of justice is often motivated by the desire to be rich. So we should not be surprised to find the Preacher returning to the vanity of riches as he offers words of...] III. CAUTION REGARDING RICHES A. RICHES ARE VANITY... 1. Because they are unable to truly satisfy - 5:10-12 a. Lovers of silver and abundance will never be satiated b. As they increase, so their desire for more will increase 2. Because those obsessed with riches are hurt by them - 5:13-17 a. Riches can hurt those who possess them 1) While a laboring man enjoys sweet sleep... 2) ...the abundance of the rich provides too much turmoil for restful
sleep! b. Through misfortune, or eventually through death, one loses their riches -- What value then are riches, if in the acquisition of them one must endure much sorrow, sickness, and anger? - cf. Pro 15:16-17; 17:1 B. THE PREACHER'S OBSERVATIONS CONCERNING RICHES... 1. It is good to enjoy the good of one's labor - 5:18 2. But it is God who give one the power to truly enjoy them - 5:19-20 3. A sad situation is where God gives one the ability to acquire riches, but not enjoy them! - 6:1-2 4. It matters little if one lives long and has a hundred children... a. Unless one is able to be satisfied (a gift which God gives), he is worse off than a still-born child! - 6:3-5 b. Even if he lives two thousand years! - 6:6 5. Riches in of themselves cannot satisfy the soul - 6:7-9 a. His body might be filled, but that is not what fills the soul b. It is better to be content with what you see, than to wander after for what you desire 6. Riches really can't change things - 6:10-11 a. He is still "man", and cannot contend with God b. They are not the things that truly make man better, they only increase vanity 7. The answers to life's questions can't be found in striving for riches - 6:12 CONCLUSION 1. In asking questions like... a. "For who knows what is good for man in life, all the days of his vain life which he passes like a shadow?" - 6:12a b. "Who can tell a man what will happen after him under the sun?" - 6:12b ...the Preacher illustrates the vanity of looking to riches for the answers 2. Indeed, the answers are to be found by turning to God, not riches; which is why... a. One needs to be careful in their worship of God! b. We should draw near to hear what God has revealed through His Word! It is particularly through "The Word" (Jesus, Jn 1:1) that we learn the ultimate answers to the questions that challenged the Preacher. For Jesus has "abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." (2Ti 1:10). Ecclesiastes tells us that the answers to life are not found in the things of this life. Are we willing to therefore heed Him who is the Creator of life and is the light of men? - Jn 1:2-4