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Ecclesiastes 3

1 - For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven:

2 - a time to be born,and a time to die;a time to plant,and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

3 - a time to kill,and a time to heal;a time to break down,and a time to build up;

4 - a time to weep,and a time to laugh;a time to mourn,and a time to dance;

5 - a time to cast away stones,and a time to gather stones together;a time to embrace,and a time to refrain from embracing;

6 - a time to seek,and a time to lose;a time to keep,and a time to cast away;

7 - a time to tear,and a time to sew;a time to keep silence,and a time to speak;

8 - a time to love,and a time to hate;a time for war,and a time for peace.

9 - What profit has he who works in that in which he labors?

10 - I have seen the burden which God has given to the sons of men to be afflicted with.

11 - He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in their hearts, yet so that man can't find out the work that God has done from the beginning even to the end.

12 - I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice, and to do good as long as they live.

13 - Also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy good in all his labor, is the gift of God.

14 - I know that whatever God does, it shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it; and God has done it, that men should fear before him.

15 - That which is has been long ago, and that which is to be has been long ago: and God seeks again that which is passed away.

16 - Moreover I saw under the sun, in the place of justice, that wickedness was there; and in the place of righteousness, that wickedness was there.

17 - I said in my heart, "God will judge the righteous and the wicked; for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work."

18 - I said in my heart, "As for the sons of men, God tests them, so that they may see that they themselves are like animals.

19 - For that which happens to the sons of men happens to animals. Even one thing happens to them. As the one dies, so the other dies. Yes, they have all one breath; and man has no advantage over the animals: for all is vanity.

20 - All go to one place. All are from the dust, and all turn to dust again.

21 - Who knows the spirit of man, whether it goes upward, and the spirit of the animal, whether it goes downward to the earth?"

22 - Therefore I saw that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his works; for that is his portion: for who can bring him to see what will be after him?

Ecclesiastes Images and Notes

The Book of Ecclesiastes

Ecclesiastes 7:21-22 - Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee: For oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed others.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 - Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this [is] the whole [duty] of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether [it be] good, or whether [it be] evil.
 

The Old Testament - A Brief Overview

Bible Survey - Ecclesiastes
Hebrew Name - Qoheleth "the preacher"
Greek Name - Ekklesiastes (Greek form of the Hebrew)
Author - Solomon (According to Tradition)
Date - 977 BC Approximately
Theme - All pursuits in life are empty except fearing God and obeying His Word
Types and Shadows - In Ecclesiastes Jesus is true fulfillment

Illustration of Solomon's Temple
Illustration of Solomon's Temple on Mount Moriah

Summary of The Book of Ecclesiastes

The book of Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon who was the wisest man in the world, and in fact he was the embodiment of pure wisdom if you read his story. There was no man better qualified to talk about life, because he tasted everything in life to its fullest power, he had fame, wealth, power, women, and everything that any man could ever wish for. He tested out everything in life both with God and without God, and his conclusion was that everything "under the sun" is futile, meaningless, purposeless, and empty, without God. His encouragement is to remember the Lord while you are young, fear him, obey him, and respect him. This is the true meaning and purpose in life, and the source of fulfillment.

The word "Ecclesiastes" is the Greek equivalent for the Hebrew word Koheleth, or "the preacher." Solomon was the wisest man in the world, people came from all over the world to hear his wisdom. He built the Temple in Jerusalem, he was the son of King David, and he was chosen to impart his wisdom to us in the book of Ecclesiastes.

Solomon had thoroughly experienced all avenues of pleasure, all avenues of sensuality, all avenues of wealth, honor, folly, and the pursuit of knowledge. He also sinned in giving way to every excess of life which his position made possible and comes to the realization of the uselessness of it all. He concludes that the result of his efforts have been made him empty and that there is nothing new under the sun, but all is part of the endless, frustrating circularity. His attitude was spoken in the recurring phrase, "vanity of vanities, all is vanity, saith the preacher." In Ecclesiastes, the world is convicted of its vanity by one who has drunk of every spring.

The conclusion which Solomon "the preacher" reaches is that in such an empty and unsatisfying world where disappointment, trouble and death cannot be avoided, a quiet enjoyment of God's gifts is the only real wisdom. The man who is truly wise will "fear God and keep his commandments" (12:13-14), making the best of things as he finds them and trusting in the providence of God. This secret should be understood early in life. An understanding of this will provide one with great pleasure in life. The book of Ecclesiastes profoundly illustrates the idea that a life apart from God is a life without meaning.

Outline of the Book of Ecclesiastes

Ecclesiastes 1:1-2:26 - Sermon #1: The vanity of human wisdom. In this section the preacher argues that human effort and human achievement are futile, and he demonstrates this by talking about the futility of human life at every stage in every generation. He goes on to discuss how empty human wisdom, education and philosophy is. Also the enjoyments of pleasure as well as money and wealth bring emptiness. Even the wisest of all men must eventually die, and all of man's hard work and business and wealth are left to undeserving heirs. Man should be content with all the provisions that God gives in life.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-5:20 - Sermon #2: Appreciate the divine laws governing life. Life and death is a reality, and there is a proper time that has been determined for every activity and every experience. God is the only one who guarantees anything of value, and anything that lasts. Man will experience punishment and men will experience death, this is universal for every man and every beast. There is no certainty of what is beyond life from the human perspective, so make the best of this present life in the eyes of God. There are also disappointments in life, there is cruelty and there is misery and there is affliction. There are disadvantages to those who succeed in life, and there are penalties for those who are lazy and the greedy. The hardships in life are better faced with a partner than alone, and if one succeeds in politics this is also unstable. When someone seeks after whatever benefits himself this also is futile. When you live your life or yourself, or sacrifice for others this is folly, vain words and broken promises is also folly. When someone does you wrong and they are paid back for their wrongdoing or for their greed this also is folly. You can only find contentment in life when you're thankful and can enjoy the gifts of God.

Ecclesiastes 6:1-8:17 - Sermon #3: There is no fulfillment in any earthly pleasures or wealth. Gaining the whole world does not fulfill a man, there is no long-lasting contentment in money or in having many children. There is no great satisfaction in being educated in the world or being uneducated and a fool. There is no real point in life other than God, one can receive a wise counsel for a corrupt world, but true values come when someone is faced with sorrow or death. There are problems with short-lived pleasures, and there are also problems with gaining wealth dishonestly, and also getting angry easily. It is better to be wise and to have great wealth when you're dealing with the problems in life. You can have good luck or bad luck, these also come from God. You can boast about your religious ideals and you can hire prostitute, both of these lead to major problems in life. There is nothing greater than wisdom, every man is a sinner and one should be aware of his actions. But man who has much education cannot find spiritual truth. The greatest evil is an evil woman. Every man has grown to become corrupt. The world is fallen, therefore respect governmental authority. God's law exists in the universe despite the sorrows in life and even death. The good person, or the unpunished evil person will eventually meet God in judgment. Life has many problems and this may encourage some that God's ways are beyond understanding.

Ecclesiastes 9:1-12:8 - Sermon #4: God will deal with the world's injustices. Death will come upon everyone eventually, whether one is evil or good, or even very good. When one dies all of their learning will come to an end, those who are seeking God must let others see and take advantage of life. Becoming successful is an uncertainty, and living a long life is difficult even after trying. But wisdom, which goes unnoticed is greater than the strongest force. Life is uncertain and yet there is folly. Just a little folly can ruin your life. Take wise choices in front of important people especially rulers. Your great wealth can turn away, and sin can make you miserable. The fool makes conversation that is worthless and has no direction. It is important to have direction in life and morality is important for nations and men. When you despise authority you will be punished. There is a good way to spend your life, be kind, do good to those who do good to you. Realize that God's laws are established in nature and no one can alter them. It is wise to be happy in whatever you put your hand to. There is punishment for those who are young that are seeking lustful pleasures. Make a decision early in life to seek after God for you become old.

Ecclesiastes 12:9-14 - Conclusion: The meaning of life in the light of eternity. The book of Ecclesiastes was given to teach us the meaning of life, which is to fear the Lord and to obey his word. This encouragement is more valuable than every book they could ever be written in the whole world by all the wisest men. God will come and his judgment will be final.

Quick Reference Map
Map of the Empires of David and Solomon
Map of the Empires of David and Solomon (Click to Enlarge)

Quick Reference Maps - Ecclesiastes

The Kingdom of Solomon during the Time of Ecclesiastes

The Empire of David and Solomon during the Chronicles

Solomon's Temple Illustration

The First Day. Light.

Ecclesiastes Resources

Samuel the Prophet
Saul, Israel's First King
King David
King Solomon

More About the Book of Ecclesiastes
Ecclesiastes in the Picture Study Bible
Timeline of the Ancient World
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