Ecclesiastes (Time) – The Lazy Heretic Podcast Episode 09

Ecclesiastes Part One (Time)

We begin a new 3 week series on the book of Ecclesiastes. This book is Pappa Tay’s favourite book of the Bible (at the moment)

Atheists often name Ecclesiastes as their favorite book of the Bible. The antitheist author Christopher Hitchens, who considered George Orwell an atheist, wrote approvingly of Orwell’s use of Ecclesiastes at his funeral.

Koheleth is the Hebrew title of the book.

We will be looking at three megathemes in the book:
1. Time
2. Death
3. Randomness

A very encouraging series of podcasts! Pappa Tay finds this book inspiring!

Everything is MEANINGLESS!

What Is The Author Telling Us About Time?

The passage of time is something that we all have to come to grips with. People don’t like to get old these days!

Wrinkles are forming and my skin is sagging! We try to fight it off, but we have to come to grips with the fact the TIME PASSES.

We forget that in 10 years time, we’ll be 10 years older than we are right now. I’ve been in ministry long enough for people to have been kids are now 24 years old.

The author is trying to tell us this, but in a REALLY depressing way!

His motto:

The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem.
“Absolute futility,” says the Teacher.
“Absolute futility. Everything is futile.”
Ecclesiastes 1:1-2

What does vanity, meaningless (Hevel) mean? What is this word, and how does it connect the themes together?

HEVEL
The Hebrew word for vanity, it is a word that is hard to render in English in one word. It is hard to sum up.

The mist that evaporates in the morning – dew or fog.
Your breath/mist on a cold day. You see it for half a second, and then it’s gone. That is the best explanation that Pappa Tay has heard. It’s there, and then it’s gone, and it is insubstantial. You can’t grasp it, control, shape it, or form it.

Time

Our lives are so insubstantial, life, essentially, is but a blip on the magnitude on all eternity. My life really doesn’t mean much – the future will forget me, and I’ve forgotten the past.

I don’t embody anything further back than my grandad on my mum’s side, and my great grandad on my dad’s side, but only because he was alive when I was. Our parents, us and our kids seem to be all that matter to us. No one is going to know me 30 years after I die, unless I do something earth shattering.

We don’t see the value in seeking wisdom for those who are older, and older, and older than us.

Ecclesiastes is trying to make you aware that you are nothing, to shake you out of your comfort zone, and shake of the idea that you are important on a grand, cosmic scale. The depressed version of Psalm 8:

For the choir director: on the Gittith. A psalm of David.
Lord, our Lord,
how magnificent is your name throughout the earth!
You have covered the heavens with your majesty.
From the mouths of infants and nursing babies,
you have established a stronghold
on account of your adversaries
in order to silence the enemy and the avenger.
When I observe your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you set in place,
what is a human being that you remember him,
a son of man that you look after him?
You made him little less than God
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet:
all the sheep and oxen,
as well as the animals in the wild,
the birds of the sky,
and the fish of the sea
that pass through the currents of the seas.
Lord, our Lord,
how magnificent is your name throughout the earth!
Psalm 8

A long, depressed commentary on this psalm?

For with much wisdom is much sorrow;
as knowledge increases, grief increases.
Ecclesiastes 1:18

The author argues with himself all throughout the book. Both wisdom and folly bring pain.

Then I turned to consider wisdom, madness, and folly, for what will the king’s successor be like? He will do what has already been done. And I realized that there is an advantage to wisdom over folly, like the advantage of light over darkness.

The wise person has eyes in his head,
but the fool walks in darkness.
Yet I also knew that one fate comes to them both. So I said to myself, “What happens to the fool will also happen to me. Why then have I been overly wise?” And I said to myself that this is also futile. For, just like the fool, there is no lasting remembrance of the wise, since in the days to come both will be forgotten. How is it that the wise person dies just like the fool? Therefore, I hated life because the work that was done under the sun was distressing to me. For everything is futile and a pursuit of the wind.
Ecclesiastes 2:12-17

We’re born, we live, we die. The cycle repeats. But the earth remains the same. Mt Everest was there 3000 years ago, and will be there 3000 years into the future. Time marches, and there will come a point when we stop, and it keeps moving.

Life is not in our control, and is not easily shaped by us. A reaction to the idea of cause and effect found in Proverbs.

There is an occasion for everything,
and a time for every activity under heaven:
a time to give birth and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to uproot;
a time to kill and a time to heal;
a time to tear down and a time to build;
a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance;
a time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
a time to embrace and a time to avoid embracing;
a time to search and a time to count as lost;
a time to keep and a time to throw away;
a time to tear and a time to sew;
a time to be silent and a time to speak;
a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Life is meaningless BUT there is a God, and that is someone that we need to fear. You need to be willing to submit to that fear.

Life is hard, especially living in this HEVEL, yet the best way to live in that is to live in the fear of God.

When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is this: fear God and keep his commands, because this is for all humanity.
Ecclesiastes 12:13

God literally can do whatever he wants whenever he wants.

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