Ecclesiastes

General Christian Theology
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lesterb
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Re: Ecclesiastes

Postby lesterb » Tue Jan 10, 2017 5:03 pm

If I counted right, Solomon asked 32 questions in this book. Some are a bit hard to classify, but this is an approximation.

Code: Select all

 7 - work and toil 
 1 - anything new?
 7 - meaninglessness of life
12 - the future and death
 3 - fatalistic
 2 - unanswerable


I'm beginning to think that the book of Job would make an interesting companion study. One is from the perspective of a king, the other the perspective of someone who has just lost everything. And both give us a perspective of God.
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When a man's ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. (Pro 16:7 ESV)

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Re: Ecclesiastes

Postby lesterb » Tue Jan 10, 2017 5:08 pm

Bootstrap wrote:
lesterb wrote:On a side note, I'm writing this in Solus, a Linux version that I suspect will really go places if it catches on. I downloaded the 2017 version and so far I really like it. I'm running off a USB live setup. Pendrivelinux.com has a multi-boot live USB creator [called YUMI] that allows you to install various OS's and choose which one to boot from.


Cool!

I subscribed to Office 365 when I lost my job. Using Solus, I can log into OneDrive and run an online version of Word to do my writing and editing, if I want to.

I could so the same with Google Docs, but I prefer Word and Excel.

Or I can download a file and use Open Office or Libre Office, or various other text editors.
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When a man's ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. (Pro 16:7 ESV)

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Re: Ecclesiastes

Postby lesterb » Tue Jan 10, 2017 9:27 pm

Bootstrap wrote:
Kirk Lowery wrote: . . . Ecclesiastes is the philosophical explanation for what happened to Job.

Interesting. I hadn't noticed that he said this when I went through this earlier. But I was thinking today of the parallels between the two books.
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When a man's ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. (Pro 16:7 ESV)

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Re: Ecclesiastes

Postby Robert » Thu Jan 12, 2017 10:31 am

It begins with a question that is easy to ask for us all.

I love the way that we see the most successful king in Israel ask this question. This clearly shows that wealth and power do not give you the answer. They are fleeting and unimportant.

He finds his answer at the end, after processing and breaking it down. He faces his humanity and limits, even as Solomon, he has them.

I always envisioned God calling Solomon up to him at the time of the birth of Jesus and saying, "Nothing new?" with a slight smile on His face. Solomon would look puzzled. 33 years later, which is a blink in Heaven, God calls Solomon to Him again, and says, "Now watch!"

Solomon also uses reason to find his answer. He starts with a feeling and ends with reason.

And, like all scripture, we will all find different things to connect with. We will also connect at differing parts depending on our life experience or situation.
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Re: Ecclesiastes

Postby lesterb » Thu Jan 12, 2017 5:56 pm

Image
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When a man's ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. (Pro 16:7 ESV)

haithabu
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Re: Ecclesiastes

Postby haithabu » Thu Jan 12, 2017 10:20 pm

lesterb wrote:Image



I would say it's like Psalms - the writer is saying what he is feeling at the time. That can change from Psalm to Psalm and even within a Psalm. I see Ecclesiastes following an arc where Solomon is reminiscing about his life and its frustrations and works his way to the conclusion.
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Re: Ecclesiastes

Postby haithabu » Thu Jan 12, 2017 10:40 pm

About Ecclesiastes and Job, there are some parallels, but there are also some definite contrasts.

Job lost everything <> Solomon never lost a thing

Job was carefully righteousness <> Solomon fell away and by his own account lived for himself through much of his life.

Job complained to God about life but reaffirmed his faith in its meaning <> Solomon complained about life and said it was meaningless. I might add that Job spoke to God while Solomon spoke about God.

Job's wonderful declaration of faith ("I know that my Redeemer lives....") has no counterpart in Ecclesiastes. Here Job is speaking as a prophet pointing straight into the new covenant. There is no prophecy in Ecclesiaiastes.

Job in his pain is continually trying to break through to God <> Solomon does not seek anything from God, even at the conclusion.

Overall Job comes across as a much more hopeful book, especially in the ending where God reveals Himself to Job. Ecclesiastes winds up in a position of stoic faith without any sense of God's nearness. Not unlike certain strains of Mennonitism (present company excepted! :)).

The underlying difference I think is that God is bringing Solomon back to where he began spiritually after a long period of unfaithfulness, but there is no net growth in his life. On the other hand, with Job God is taking a man who has been faithful throughout his life and is bringing him through to a higher level.

In terms of the Parable of the Talents, Solomon is the man who buried his talent and at the end hastily dug it up and put it in the bank - just in time! While Job is the man who invested his talent and earned ten-fold - certainly materially as the epilogue makes clear but more importantly his gain was spiritual.
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Re: Ecclesiastes

Postby Robert » Fri Jan 13, 2017 9:58 am

haithabu wrote:In terms of the Parable of the Talents, Solomon is the man who buried his talent and at the end hastily dug it up and put it in the bank - just in time! While Job is the man who invested his talent and earned ten-fold - certainly materially as the epilogue makes clear but more importantly his gain was spiritual.


I loved the contrast in your post. I did struggle at the end with the comparison. I get concerned that it is easy for us to compare people when situations are really different. I don't really disagree with the contrast but comparing how different people go though life may not really be a good way to evaluate things. We are all individuals and each has to find their own way. Job's way would not have worked for Solomon, or versa visa.

Solomon was talking about God in Ecclesiastes. It was not a dialogue between him and God. It was his personal reflection. He points out that the 10 fold Job got, indirectly, really is meaningless too. Relationships, Solomon points towards God, are what really has value. We often look to Job's 10 fold reward and think of that as prosperity. Solomon is saying something different. He is saying the relationship, like Job had, is key.

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Re: Ecclesiastes

Postby RZehr » Fri Jan 13, 2017 11:09 am

I'm really enjoying this thread.
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Re: Ecclesiastes

Postby lesterb » Fri Jan 13, 2017 3:46 pm

Here's another question...

The Bible states that there were two things that led to Solomon's downfall. He loved many strange (foreign) women, and these women led him into the sin of idolatry. Other than a passing note that he had many concubines, Solomon paid no attention to these two issues. So I'm hesitant to think of it as an epistle of repentance, though it shows some definite shift in thought throughout the book.

I guess no one really knows. In some ways, Solomon comes across as an agnostic, uncertain about the existence of God, uncertain about life after death, and uncertain whether God, if He did exist, really cared about the world. Later, his personal observations of the work of God led him to change some of this, and the ending is fairly positive. Was it an intellectual response? Or a heartfelt admission that God was God, and in total control? And if so, what was his perspective of that God?

Solomon started out with a fairly personal relationship with God. If you read his prayer at the dedication of the temple, it seems that he still had it at that point, 7 or 8 years later. We know what took him down, but we don't know how long that took, or how long it lasted.

Something, somehow, triggered the writing of Ecclesiastes. I suspect it was God's pronouncement of judgment, and his realization that everything he had built was going to go down the tube after he died. His son would lose most of his kingdom, God's temple would eventually be destroyed, and there was nothing he could do to change that. His life had been wasted.

The book begins with a bold pronouncement: "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity."

It ends with a deferential admission: "Fear God and keep His commandments, this is the duty of man, and God will bring you into judgment for what you do."

Solomon had been humbled. And it happened because of his own observations. His wisdom and honesty forced him, in the end, to lay aside his agnosticism, and admit the truth.

Was this enough to restore his relationship with God? Only God knows....
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When a man's ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. (Pro 16:7 ESV)


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