Photo: by Jodi Blick of Grace – the skater, 2012
IX. The Sermon: A Beastly Way to Live – Rev. Kyle McClellan, Senior Minister, Grace Church – The Sermon Passage: Ecclesiastes 3:16-4:3. Part 7
The Big Idea: A world full of injustice and oppression reminds us of the rightness of God’s judgement on our first parents, and leaves us impatient for the judgment to come.
I. No time for injustice and oppression (3:16, 4:1).
The question bubbling under the surface in this passages is when is God going to do something? When will justice always prevail over unrighteousness?
II. A front-loaded life (3:18-21).
III. When in doubt, fulfill the cultural mandate (3:22).
Solomon’s logic in this passage is goofy: there is injustice, when will judgement come, in the meantime you will die in oppression like the animals, so therefore go to work Monday! What?
Here is what solomon is driving at: Work is not just putting a roof over our head but a calling which IS part of working for justice for the oppressed. This goes a long way in battling oppression.
The story of Ruth is a great example of this. Boaz’ calling was a farmer, not farming the corners of the field, so that the marginalized can come and glean the corners of the field. The land is not just the for Boaz to become rich but take care of the poor.
A cobler asked Martin Luther what he should do now that he is saved? He replied, make the best shoe you can and sell it at a fair price.
Fair trade coffee is another example of vocation brining justice to the backs of the plantation worker to receive a fair wage.
IV. A harsh judgment on the timeliness of God’s judgment (4:2-3, 3:17; cf.: Revelation 6:9-10).
Three errors we need to avoid:
A. avoid thinking we can tell God what time it is. Rev. 6. The martyrs are asking God how long until they get justice for their deaths. Vs12 does not say that they responded with asking God if that plan he has is good? With, more are to die as martyrs? The ones in heaven don’t argue with God for his timeframe the way that we do.
B. Avoid thinking that we are the instruments of God’s judgement. We all agree that 50mm unborn children have been killed since 1973 and that abortion is a great oppression. However, since we are not God’s instrument of judgement, killing the doctors is not our calling.
C. Avoid thinking that God’s judgment will never come. Acts 17:31 God has fixed a day where he will judge the world in righteousness. Solomon saw this coming and it came with Jesus. One day Christ will return again on a white horse to judge and finish this thing.
The kind of judgment that Solomon is talking about is larger and systemic. Vs 2 of this passage from Solomon is more than individual. It is not just judgment of individuals but something greater going on. The judgment on Adam and Eve was not just to them but to all of creation as well. Therefore, the judgment that is coming is ot going to just address individual wrongs, though it will, it will restore all of creation and community as well! All that has been affected by the fall will be addressed by God’s judgment in Christ.
16 Moreover, I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, even there was wickedness, and in the place of righteousness, even there was wickedness. 17 I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work. 18 I said in my heart with regard to the children of man that God is testing them that they may see that they themselves are but beasts. 19 For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity. 20 All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return. 21 Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth? 22 So I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that is his lot. Who can bring him to see what will be after him?
1 Again I saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them. 2 And I thought the dead who are already dead more fortunate than the living who are still alive. 3 But better than both is he who has not yet been and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun.
IX. The Sermon: What Legacy? – Rev. Kyle McClellan, Senior Minister, Grace Presbyterian Church – The Sermon Passage: Ecclesiastes 2:18-26. Part 6.
Working hard so that your children can have a better life than we have – that is often defined as the American dream. It also can be called “legacy.” Solomon takes aim at this philosophy for meaning in life even thousands of years ago.
The Big Idea: Toiling to create a legacy will end only in frustration and evil – a situation only the Gospel can remedy.
I. What if you’ve raised another Rehoboam? (vv. 18-21; cf.: 1 Kings 12; 2 Chronicles 10 ).
Solomon is laboring on heavy work as shown in vs 18. Solomon took what David started and built it better, finished the temple from the supplies that David gathered, etc. The people built it on their backs under his leadership. When Solomon dies the people want a break from this heavy kingdom building labor. However, his son, wanting to make a name for himself separate from his father’s, says the people’s burden is only going to get worse and heavier than when his dad was around.
Rehoboam undoes what his father labored to accomplish, and the kingdom divides in civil war separating the kingdom north and south. All he had to do was not mess up what his father did for him, but he tanked it.
Do you have to have your kids (or at least one of your kids) follow in your footsteps, or are you preaching in your home to pursue whatever it is that God calls them to do vocationally speaking?
Or maybe you have no children to pass things on to. Then what happens to your “legacy”?
Great quote from Wendell Berry’s book A Place On Earth. The quote says, “it is hard to raise a boy under the hand of the father.” This is included in Solomon’s passage here and also the showing of his life. It is hard for sons to want to take advice from their father while being under their father’s hand.
II. Rest? (vv. 22-23).
This is why sabbath rest is so important. It reminds us that untimely it is God working and causing me to succeed and not me. Rest shows we believe it is not all up to us.
III. Can a materialist receive common grace? (vv. 24-26).
Solomon says one can’t really enjoy life unless God makes it possible. One writer puts it, “We hunger to get out of things more than they can give us!”
Richard Simmons used to say on his show “biggest looser” before there was that show, “the food is not love.” We make our food, our toil, our work do things for us that only God can do for us. Then we hate it. We make ultimate things out of ordinary good things. Keller commonly has said that idols and functional saviors promise to give many things to us that ultimately leave us weary and tired and dead in our souls.
IV. A different type of legacy (cf.: Luke 15:11-32).
Instead of us LEAVING a legacy, let’s think of it in terms of the legacy that we have been left to RECEIVE. Both sons in the story of the prodigal son make a hash of the legacy that their father is leaving them. Both of them despise it.
So how does the father then respond to both sons? He runs after them in pursuing love.
Is there a crushing load over you to either leave a legacy or fulfill the legacy expectations that your parents left you? You don’t have to worry about not meeting the father’s expectations because we have a perfect older brother that has fulfilled perfectly his high expectations.
The legacy is not the legacy that you leave but what the father recklessly and lavishly leaves us. This is a different legacy.
What I want for my kids and the expecatations I have for them in love pales in comparison to the love that the true Father has on my kids!
18 I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me, 19 and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. 20 So I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labors under the sun, 21 because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. 22 What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? 23 For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity.
24 There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, 25 for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? 26 For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.