My Bible-in-a-year reading just finished Ecclesiastes. This is not my favorite OT book for sure. It tends to leave me annoyed and frustrated. Solomon (we assume he was the author) wrote many wise and true things here, but somehow it feels like he just doesn’t get it. There’s this disquieting feeling that he’s missing the mark.
But what mark was he missing? God gave Solomon astounding wisdom, along with great wealth and power. It’s such fun to read his book of Proverbs, just one fantastic truth after another! He was surely gifted in every way. And he knew God.
But this time I realized what was bothering me so much. It was this: that he seems to have had many periods of satisfaction and happiness, but in spite of it all, he was missing something which we have in such wonderful abundance! He had no joy!
He had no joy because he didn’t have Jesus! He didn’t have the confidence of the indwelling Holy Spirit, guiding him, teaching him, correcting him. He didn’t have hope for the future.
For us it is a bit of ironic humor when we say, “You can’t take it with you!” But for Solomon it wasn’t funny! He only saw that good and evil people both died, and had to leave everything behind – so why work so hard? He knew that there would be a judgment, but the idea that God would provide a way for us to escape payment for our sin never entered his mind. That God would send the Messiah to earth to DIE was totally beyond him.
Do we ever seem to take this for granted? This is the very bedrock of our joy! This is the only reason for our confident hope! This is why we know, we KNOW that death has been conquered, that we will spend eternity with God and His Son, our sins having been washed far away by the very shed blood of His Son Jesus!
But just consider all those lost people out there whom we desperately need to reach with the wonderful Good News of the Gospel. They too, like Solomon, are living without joy, without hope, always looking for some elusive thing to fill that void which only Jesus can fill. You want to know their thoughts? You want to know how they, rich and poor, live? Read Ecclesiastes.
Read Ecclesiastes again, and think how it must be to have no answers, no future sure thing but death and taxes, no confidence of heaven, trying to believe that you will be good enough. You should ache for them, and want to find them, and to reach as many of them as you possibly can!
As we learn more clearly how to tell our gospel story, keep thinking of them. Don’t worry about yourself; God will give you the right words and the opportunities to say them. Just be willing. Just be yourself. And let God’s grace flow through you.