Photo. Justine Blick. May 2011. Fremont spring storms.
IX. The Sermon: Full of Sound and Fury and Signifying Nothing – Rev. Kyle McClellan, Senior Minister, Grace Presbyterian Church, The Sermon Passage: 1:1-3
The Big Idea: The book of Ecclesiastes asks questions the rest of the Bible answers, impressing upon us the vanity and meaninglessness of a life lived apart from God.
I. Read Ecclesiastes as an antidote to consumer churchianity.
No one can outdo Solomon. He had more money and power and wealth than any of us will ever have to see if he could buy satisfaction. He did not. If he didn’t, what makes us think that we can outdo him? He DID end up finding satisfaction beyond the sun, namely, the Maker of the sun.
II. Confess what honest pagans already know (v. 2).
Frederich Niche, a popular existentialist, said God is dead and we killed him. He ended his life in an insane asylum as the implications of this life philosophy in this maxim drove him mad.
Ecclesiastes is supposed to drive us to despair.
If this is all there is, then we are in trouble. That is the truth that Solomon, Niche, Kurt Cobain, etc. knew.
III. Stop trying to secure what Jesus has already secured for you (v.3).
The answers to the questions that Solomon brings up in this book are not found in this book – they are found in the person of Christ. Matthew 6:25-36 was our reading today. Look at the birds of the air, they neither sow nor reap but are fed by their heavenly father. Are we not worth more to him than they?
Jesus ties this passage to the questions in Ecclesiastes. Do birds eat? Yes. But they are fed by a Father above the sun. Clothing on your back is not a want but a legitimate need. What you do to work for it is all put in perspective by the Father’s work. Your work is not ultimate – God’s is. Your work is not what matters or your ministry work. The ultimate work is God’s work. So why let your penultimate work keep you up late at night? Rest. God is working. It is about his work that he is doing.
But we doubt it. We doubt he cares that much for us. We doubt Jesus. But Jesus is the one who is speaking in this Matthew passage. His very presence among us as he came to earth is proof that there is life beyond the sun.
Come to me all who labor and heavy laden and I will give you rest. You will find rest for your souls in Christ. Are you despairing? Don’t. Your heavenly Father values you much more than the birds of the air and the lillies of the field. The burdens you have, give them to him and find rest. Do you know that rest? Not, are you at Christian, but do you know that rest he offers you?
1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. 2 Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. 3 What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?