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September 2019

Living Lives of Meaning and Purpose Under the Son

Solomon is considered the wisest man who has ever lived next to Jesus, specially anointed with the wisdom of God and along with that God gave Solomon great riches and honor.<\p>

During his Kingship, the Temple was built and he became one of the most powerful kings in all of history, reigning in a time of peace and prosperity and no war. Thus, living up to the meaning of the root word of his name, Shalomo, meaning peaceful.<\p>

Nations would send delegates to the capital city of Jerusalem where he lived and reigned, just to witness his wealth and wisdom. And the Queen of Sheba traveled over 1000 miles just to have a meeting with him.<\p>

And yet, in the Book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon sounds like nothing, but grumpy, cynical, bitter old man, as for 12 Chapters he goes on and on describing the vanity of chasing after pleasure, wealth, and wisdom, along with the ironies and injustices of life.<\p>

In fact, Solomon uses the word "vanity" thirty-seven times in his book of Ecclesiastes. But, lest you get the wrong idea that God the Holy Spirit had inspired Solomon to write these words without any hope us at all, when you read this Book in its proper context, you will discover that God inspired Solomon to write it in order to assure us that in spite of how may things may appear at times, we can indeed have lives of true meaning and purpose.<\p>

And what makes Ecclesiastes even more relatable and not just merely a philosophical discourse is that Solomon didn't just write these words as an observer on the sidelines, he actually lived them! For the book of Ecclesiastes is Solomon's personal testimony of how he had experienced the vanities of life, and how by God's grace, He came to recognize that life can have meaning and purpose when we fear, love and trust in God above all things!<\p>

Solomon, in spite of his wisdom, had done some astonishingly idiotic, stupid things, just like I have in my lifetime – and I dare say you have to, whenever you like me have sinned in thought, word, and deed by what you have done and by what you have left undone.<\p>

Solomon had married 700 pagan women and taken in 300 concubines, and had even built temples for the false gods of his wives, thus allowing foreign idols in Israel, instead of using His wisdom, wealth, and power to rule and lead God's people.<\p>

He had used his wisdom, wealth, and power to pursue his life's meaning in all the wrong places, and as a result scripture tells us that his heart that had once been turned towards God was bent away from God.<\p>

But his writing of the Book of Ecclesiastes is evidence that Solomon's heart was now being bent back towards God who once said of him in 2 Samuel 7, "I will be His Father, and He will be my Son. If He becomes guilty, I will punish Him with the rod of men and with blows inflicted by men. But I will not stop being kind to Him."<\p>

And so, we find Solomon at the end of his life, making a written confession for others to read about, including you and me, of what an utter fool he was and offering his parting words of wisdom before he breathes his last breath on the earth.<\p>

The Book of Ecclesiastes stands out from all the other Books of the Bible, in its cynical and pessimistic way that life is described from the natural wisdom of this world, but, Solomon was not an atheist, or an agnostic, or an epicurean, as some have taken his words to mean by taking the passages that are found in the book of Ecclesiastes out of context.<\p>

He was simply describing by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit the absolute foolishness of trying to find purpose and meaning in anything else but seeking first the Kingdom of God, in order that we might learn from his misstates.<\p>

In fact, Solomon mentions God 40 times in the book Ecclesiastes and he concludes his book by emphasizing as its grand finale, "Finally, having heard it all – fear God and keep His commandments, for this applies to everyone, because God will bring into judgment everything that is done, also every secret thing, whether it is good or evil".<\p>

However, a belief in God as Judge alone won't deliver you from living a purposeless and meaningless life. It might even drive you even further into despair when you consider just how sinful you really are. Instead, a life of meaning and purpose includes a belief in God as Savior, as well.<\p>

For the Good news is that there was another Son of David, who came to this world and did something Very New!<\p>

He came into this wearisome cycle of life and death, was born of the virgin Mary, from the line of David, fully human and fully God and lived a life under the sun and thus under the same powers we all live under, the law, sin, and death. And yet he completely fulfilled the law in our name and on our behalf.<\p>

He resisted Sin at every turn, overcoming every temptation of the evil one and willingly suffered and died a criminal's death on a cross and three days later rose, but when he rose he didn't just come back from the dead, like Lazarus had, only to die again, instead, he took on death and came out the other side victorious being raised immortal.<\p>

Thus breaking the repetitious cycle of sin and death and opening to us the way to everlasting lie. And judgment? He faced it, absorbed it and made it possible for sinners like you be me to be declared 100% innocent by taking on the punishment we deserved.<\p>

Jesus, the King of Heaven triumphed where Solomon, as king of Jerusalem had failed.<\p>

For Solomon, as great as he was, was not the King of Heaven, but was merely a king under heaven and thus vulnerable to the same forces we all are.<\p>

He may have been super-naturally wise, wealthy, and powerful, but he couldn't overcome the powers that this fallen world is under: sin, along with the injustices and unfairness of living in this sinful world. And ultimately, death. And so he describes this life under the sun, as vanity, vanity, all is vanity<\p>

But the King of Kings, who humbled Himself to the point of death, even death on the cross and wore a crown of thorns rather than a crown of gold, proved to be the most powerful King of all, making it possible for all who believe in Him, to be delivered from the powers of the law, sin and death, so that God would no longer simply be our Judge, but our Father.<\p>

And would no longer simply be our Teacher, but our Savior!<\p>

The powers of life under the s-u-n have been broken for us, and now we can live lives of purpose and meaning. And that's why God has led you to read this article in this month's Messiah Matters, where living in this fallen world often it can seem that your life makes no sense at all:<\p>

To remind you that there is more to this world than meets the eye and you mustn't allow the passing things of this world to sidetrack and possibly even disqualify you from the eternal, but instead to use your time, talents, and treasures wisely for the Kingdom of God!<\p>

And as a recipient of the wisdom of the Gospel you too can share your personal testimony to others who are searching for purpose and meaning in all the wrong places, how you have found meaning and purpose for your life, as you lift up the name of Jesus to all you meet, and remind them what really important in this world of vanity and what a difference Jesus has made in your life.<\p>

A good commentary on the Book of Ecclesiastes can be found in 1 Corinthians 15, where we read in verse 19-20, "If Christ is our hope only for this life, we should be pitied more than any other people. But now Christ did rise from the dead, the first in the harvest of those who are sleeping in their graves"<\p>

And that my friends, makes all the difference in how we live out our days on this earth. The hope of the Resurrection assures us that life does have meaning. Otherwise, as verse 32 puts it, "If the dead don't rise, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die"<\p>

The resurrection of Our Lord assures us that these aging bodies will someday be transformed to bodies that won't decay, and these mortal bodies of ours will be exchanged with immortal and glorified bodies that will live forever.<\p>

And so, verse 58 concludes, "Stand firm, the, my dear fellow Christians, and let nothing move you. Always keep on doing a great work for the Lord since you know in the Lord your hard work isn't wasted".<\p>

As Jesus says to us in Matthew 6:19-20, "Don't store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy them and thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where no moth or rust destroys them and no thieves break in and steal"<\p>

In my own life and in ministering to others, as a pastor, I'm amazed how often I find myself turning to this unique book in the Bible to help me and others have a right perspective when responding to all of life's ironies, unfairness, accidents, illnesses, broken relationships, disappointments, and ultimately death.<\p>

And as a reminder to see life through the lenses of eternity and to not be so myopic when it comes to the vanities of this very, very, very brief life.<\p>

Therefore, I encourage you to read this book (it's only 12 chapters) as part of your personal devotions and listen to the Holy Spirit speaking to you about what really matters in this life, as you do some serious self-examination of your relationship with God and His Kingdom, and how you're been living your life lately, in light of eternity: "For only one life twill soon be past only what's done for Christ will last".<\p>

Solomon was almost disqualified through his foolishness of living life under the S-U-N. His testimony in Ecclesiastes urges us to learn from his mistakes, in order that we might live a life of meaning under the S-O-N.<\p>

So, that when we finally cross the finish line of life, we will hear the victorious words from our Heavenly Father: "Well done, good and faithful servant!"<\p>

In His Joy!
Pastor Wendt

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