Ecclesiastes -Antidote to Worldliness

Discussion in 'OT Wisdom Literature' started by py3ak, May 16, 2004.

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  1. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Leupold writes the following in explanation of the purpose of the book of Ecclesiastes. I thought what he said was helpful and true as a necessary reminder for all Christians, as well as for its bearing on understanding Ecclesiastes. Italics are his, bolding is mine. I hope you enjoy it.

    "In determining what purpose this book is to serve we should emphasize particularly the following facts. The book is written primarily for the godly in Israel. They are the only ones, as usual, who would give attention to a book such as this Since the times are evil and the godly suffer much, this is primarily a book of comfort. It shows God's people how to meet their difficult problems. [i:8363ab3c20]Cox[/i:8363ab3c20] is right in claiming that this is 'one of the most consolatory and inspiriting Scriptures.' It is for this reason that the second half of the book gives counsel and comfort for evil days exclusively. Many of the efforts to expound this book suffer from the defect of not having discovered this basic truth about the book.
    "The way is prepared for such comfort by the first part of the book, which beautifully illustrates the second major purpose of the book. By teaching with tremendous emphasis the vanity of all earthly things the author first disillusions his hearers. [b:8363ab3c20]For men will have at least some expectation of the comfort and solace that are to be derived from the possession of earthly goods. As long as they are thus minded they are preparing the way for added sorrows[/b:8363ab3c20]. Especially in evil times men should stake no hope on earthly goods and treasures. The best service that can be rendered a man is to divorce him from the things of this world as completely as possible. We call that disillusionment. The author aims to achieve such an end as thoroughly as possible. [b:8363ab3c20]Men who know the vanity of all things are well prepared for the trials of depressing times[/b:8363ab3c20].
    "In addition to these two major purposes of the book, which run parallel with the two halves of this book, [b:8363ab3c20]there is a subsidiary purpose, we believe, which takes account of the danger which godly men run of falling into the sins of a certain age[/b:8363ab3c20]. This is the purpose of [i:8363ab3c20]warning[/i:8363ab3c20]. Certain sins are the besetting sins of an age. The ungodly may not be persuaded to break with them. [b:8363ab3c20]The godly will heed instruction. Therefore, we have the author's warnings against formalism, discontent, attempting to solve what lies beyond our ken, looking with longing at what is thought to have been a desirable past, and the like[/b:8363ab3c20]."


    The last paragraph raises two interesting questions.
    1.) What are the besetting sins of our age?
    2.) How well have we (Reformed Christians individually, and as churches) avoided them?
     
  2. turmeric

    turmeric Megerator

     
  3. rembrandt

    rembrandt Puritan Board Sophomore

    When I first read Ecclesiastes, I thought for sure that it was a false book.
     
  4. Bladestunner316

    Bladestunner316 Puritan Board Doctor

    wish we had all the writings of solomon:)
     
  5. JonathonHunt

    JonathonHunt Guest

    Thefollowing is the beginning of my notes on two lectures on the book of Ecclesiastes at the London Reformed Baptist Seminary:

    ***************

    London Reformed Baptist Seminary

    Seminar Sat 13 Dec 2003

    Lectures 1 & 4. Preaching - Examples of evangelistic sermon structures from Ecclesiastes. By Dr. Peter Masters.

    Introduction

    Ecclesiastes - a much-derided book, even among evangelicals. Even Luther regarded it as a 'ragbag' of comments from different authors. Traditional evangelical preachers have viewed it as an evangelistic apologetic. Modern seminary professors (even reformed and evangelical) reject this, but they do not explain why, and they cannot put forth an alternative meaning and purpose for the book. They tend to arrive at the vague proposition that the book is 'at best a godly man's reflections upon a cursed world'. These days very few seminary professors are regular preachers with a concern for soul winning, and it shows!

    Some stress the epilogue, and say that the entire book must be read in the light of it - but this is wrong. The epilogue is an exhortation, not the summary of a thesis. Some also choose to look for patterns in recurring sentences and phrases such as 'under the sun'.

    We will prove as we move quickly through the book that it is evangelistic.

    **********

    If anyone wants to read the rest, which goes through several chapters verse by verse with some comments, then U2U me for the word document.

    Jonathan
     
  6. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    [quote:89f88e2b32][i:89f88e2b32]Originally posted by py3ak[/i:89f88e2b32]
    "In addition to these two major purposes of the book, which run parallel with the two halves of this book, [b:89f88e2b32]there is a subsidiary purpose, we believe, which takes account of the danger which godly men run of falling into the sins of a certain age[/b:89f88e2b32]. This is the purpose of [i:89f88e2b32]warning[/i:89f88e2b32]. Certain sins are the besetting sins of an age. The ungodly may not be persuaded to break with them. [b:89f88e2b32]The godly will heed instruction. Therefore, we have the author's warnings against formalism, discontent, attempting to solve what lies beyond our ken, looking with longing at what is thought to have been a desirable past, and the like[/b:89f88e2b32]."


    The last paragraph raises two interesting questions.
    1.) What are the besetting sins of our age?
    2.) How well have we (Reformed Christians individually, and as churches) avoided them? [/quote:89f88e2b32]

    This is a very insightful application by Leupold. Is this book by Leupold still in print?

    I'll give the questions a shot.
    1) Sexual immorality, doctrinal/moral relativism
    2) I think the Reformed churches in general have done rather well in combating these two. That's why the evangelical world is so anti-Calvinistic since we are so rigid on these things. But we certainly still have our flaws.
     
  7. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Besetting sins of the age...

    I am not sure if it's still in print or not. I borrowed it from my father-in-law's library yesterday, and he's had it for quite a few years.

    I'd have to agree that doctrinal relativism and sexual immorality are two of our besetting sins. It seems that we could probably add a few more: the love of money, ease and pleasure (selfishness), seeking the praise of men more than the honor that comes from God, resentment when we are rebuked (the opposite attitude to that of the Psalmist when he said "Let the righteous smite me: it shall be a kindness" or the Proverb that says "Open rebuke is better than secret love"). I agree that on the two you listed the Reformed church has done OK --but I wonder if we've done so well with some of the other prevalent sins.

    Any other takers?
     
  8. sundoulos

    sundoulos Puritan Board Freshman

    I would add capitulation to an anthropomorphic theology, seeker-sensitive insanity, worldliness fostered in the church, and generally being lazy about spiritual matters (godliness, proclamation of the Gospel).
     
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