Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

Part I: Finding Lasting Purpose In View Of This Life's Futile Cycles
(Ecclesiastes 1:1-11 with 12:13-14)
  1. Introduction
    1. One of our great needs as human beings is the need to achieve something of timeless value.
    2. However, this earthly life seems like an exercise in futility if viewed by itself alone, and specifically if we examine its seemingly endless cycles. How, then, is one to find timeless value in such endless cycles?
    3. Ecclesiastes 1:1-11 in view of the book's conclusion in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 answers this question for us:
  2. Finding Lasting Purpose In View Of This Life's Futile Cycles, Ecclesiastes 1:1-11 with 12:13-14.
    1. Evaluating this life in itself only with the five senses ("under the sun"), life is an exercise in futility when one considers its endless cycles, Ecclesiastes 1:1-11:
      1. Solomon, the author of Ecclesiastes, asked the rhetorical question that expects a negative answer: "What does a man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?" Ecclesiastes 1:3 ESV.
      2. Then, to clarify his question, Solomon described some of the endless cycles of this earthly life:
        1. Generations of mankind come and go, but the earth continues to exist through the ages as though a particular generation's events are meaningless in themselves, Ecclesiastes 1:4.
        2. The sun rises and sets continually although the generations of man come and go, Ecclesiastes 1:5.
        3. The wind moves from north to south, and then reverses to move from south to the north though mankind's generations come and go, Ecclesiastes 1:6.
        4. Solomon also noted the water cycle is seemingly endless: the rivers run to the sea without filling it up, for the sea evaporates its collected moisture to produce rain that fills up the rivers again, 1:7.
        5. Then, man's functions in life themselves are seemingly vain in their endless cycles of occurrence: (a) the eye is not satisfied with seeing although a person is constantly seeing things all of a person's waking hours, Eccles. 1:8a,b; (b) the human ear is not satisfied with hearing although it hears throughout a person's life, Eccles. 1:8a,c; (c) there is nothing new in this life as perceived by itself: what has been done will yet occur, and that which has been accomplished will be performed again, Eccles. 1:9-10. (d) Finally, even "memories of man's past and future efforts to attain worthwhile accomplishments are soon forgotten," cf. Ryrie Study Bible, KJV, footnote to Ecclesiastes 1:11.
    2. Against the backdrop of such seemingly empty, endless cycles of this life when considered by the five senses "under the sun," the conclusion to the book of Ecclesiastes puts this earthly life into proper perspective with an effective lesson for us all, cf. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14:
      1. Solomon ended Ecclesiastes with a moving summary that applies to each segment of the book.
      2. That lesson is the fact that any or all aspects of life, when considered in any depth reveal this life is but a "stage where all the men and women are merely actors" to paraphrase Shakespeare.
      3. Indeed, man's accountability to God for how he functions in this earthly life is the entity ALONE that gives any valuable meaning to man's brief appearance in this earthly life, Ecclesiastes 12:13a.
      4. That being said, in view of the futile cycles of this earthly life, we should do the following:
        1. We should respect Almighty God the Creator who put us on this earth to live here, Eccl. 12:13b.
        2. In accord with that respect for God, we must keep God's commands for us, Eccles. 12:13c.
      5. Thus, this present life is not an end in itself, but a means to fulfilling God's will for us, a matter for which we will give an account to Almighty God at the end of our earthly sojourns, Ecclesiastes 12:14.
      6. Since that Almighty Creator is righteous and not evil, we ought to respect God and our accountability to Him so as to overcome evil and live righteously as God wants us to live this earthly life, 12:14b.
Lesson: In view of the endless cycles of this life that make it appear vain in itself, we must NOT live for THIS life, but USE our time IN it to RESPECT and OBEY God as we will give an account for how well we respect and thus obey God when we LEAVE this life.

Application: (1) In view of this life's endless cycles, we must obey God by believing in Christ as Savior and then serving Him in discipling others, Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:19-20. (2) That involves using the gifts God gives us to do His will versus living our earthly lives for our own interests, Romans 12:1-8.