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Wisdom from Ecclesiastes and Job

Lesson #1: Ecclesiastes

Good Questions: These Lessons Have Groups Talking

by Josh Hunt www.joshhunt.com

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Introduction

As I sit down to write another lesson I pray for you. I pray that your eyes will be open to see new truths from God's word this week. I pray that you will have a fresh moment with God as you prepare to teach his word. I pray that your heart will fill with delight in Him. I pray also that your heart will fill with love for your students, and understanding for their individual needs. I pray that you will think of them and care deeply for them, as I know you do. I pray that as you teach the Holy Spirit would empower you to teach with conviction and power and grace. Always teach with grace.

I believe the hope of the world is in your hands. The hope of the world is in the gospel we teach. The hope of the world is in the Book. The hope of the world is with ordinary, bread and butter believers taking the gospel to a handful of people and, over time, maturing them, growing them and reproducing their group. I pray that this week will be another step in that direction. I hope that in the months to come God will (if he has not already) bring someone in your life that you can place your arm on their shoulder and say, "I believe in you. I think God has gifted you to care for people. I think God has gifted you to teach. I want to help you all I can. I want to give you my class while I go of and start a new class." I pray God will grace you to reproduce.

I love to hear from you from time to time. I have a new Email list where we can discuss matters together. Join the list and get in on the discussion.

Selected Verses from Ecclesiastes(1)

OPEN

DIG

  1. As we read this passage, look for the various ways Solomon tried to find meaning in life. When we finish reading, let's make a list on the board.
  2. Here is a good question to get us started: do you think the person who thinks deeply about the meaning of life is happier than the person who simply floats through life? Is the person who thinks deeply about life at any advantage over the person who floats through life, taking life as it comes?
  3. One thing Solomon tried was the pursuit of pleasure as the core source of meaning in life.(2) In what ways do people try to pursue pleasure as the core source of meaning in life today?
  4. What was the result?
  5. Anything wrong with pleasure? Anything wrong with taking the family to Six Flags?
  6. When does pleasure become a problem?
  7. Has pleasure ever been a problem for you?
  8. How do you know when you are pursuing pleasure too much? What is the line between the healthy enjoyment of this world's pleasures and the unhealthy pursuit of pleasure as a core source of meaning in life?
  9. What else did Solomon try in Eccles. 2:1-4?
  10. What is "folly"?
  11. Has there been a time when you pursued drinking as a core source of meaning in life? How did that work out?
  12. Why is drinking not a good thing to put in the center of your life?
  13. Another thing Solomon mentions is work. He pursued great projects. What is wrong with that?
  14. Has there been a time in your life when you pursued great projects as a core source of meaning in life?
  15. What is wrong with this approach?
  16. In 2:12 Solomon turns his attention to pursuing wisdom as the core source of meaning in life. This is good, isn't it?
  17. What problem did he find?
  18. It is easy enough to read this in a rather academic fashion; as an interesting intellectual exercise. Was this an exercise in academia for Solomon? What did he feel during this pursuit?
  19. Have you ever deeply felt that life was meaningless? Tell us your story.
  20. What advice would you give to a friend who was in a depressive state of feeling that life is meaningless?
  21. What conclusion did Solomon eventually come to?
  22. How would you express the meaning of life in your own words? What gets you out of bed in the morning? What do you live to do or be?(3) I'd like several of you to answer.
  23. How do we stay focused on a day-to-day basis on the true meaning of life? How do we keep the main thing the main thing?

1. Eccles. 1:1-3

The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem:

[2] "Meaningless! Meaningless!"

says the Teacher.

"Utterly meaningless!

Everything is meaningless."

[3] What does man gain from all his labor

at which he toils under the sun?



Eccles. 2:1-4

I thought in my heart, "Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good." But that also proved to be meaningless. [2] "Laughter," I said, "is foolish. And what does pleasure accomplish?" [3] I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly--my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was worthwhile for men to do under heaven during the few days of their lives.

[4] I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards.



Eccles. 2:10-15

I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;

I refused my heart no pleasure.

My heart took delight in all my work,

and this was the reward for all my labor.

[11] Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done

and what I had toiled to achieve,

everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;

nothing was gained under the sun.

[12] Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom,

and also madness and folly.

What more can the king's successor do

than what has already been done?

[13] I saw that wisdom is better than folly,

just as light is better than darkness.

[14] The wise man has eyes in his head,

while the fool walks in the darkness;

but I came to realize

that the same fate overtakes them both.

[15] Then I thought in my heart,

"The fate of the fool will overtake me also.

What then do I gain by being wise?"

I said in my heart,

"This too is meaningless."

Eccles. 4:1-3

Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun:

I saw the tears of the oppressed--

and they have no comforter;

power was on the side of their oppressors--

and they have no comforter.

[2] And I declared that the dead,

who had already died,

are happier than the living,

who are still alive.

[3] But better than both

is he who has not yet been,

who has not seen the evil

that is done under the sun.


Eccles. 12:1

Remember your Creator

in the days of your youth,

before the days of trouble come

and the years approach when you will say,

"I find no pleasure in them"--

 

Eccles. 12:13-14

Now all has been heard;

here is the conclusion of the matter:

Fear God and keep his commandments,

for this is the whole duty of man.

[14] For God will bring every deed into judgment,

including every hidden thing,

whether it is good or evil.

2. I will be using this phrase in this lesson as a "repeated phrase." This is a rhetorical device that I use in teaching. I discuss its use in my book, 860Disciplemaking Teachers.

3. The phrase "Enjoying God" based on Philippians 4:4 and Psalm 37:4 works for me.