Wisdom of Ecclesiastes • Wisdom Ep. 3

Foreign The Book of Ecclesiastes is a unique Book in the Bible that is delighted and Confused Christians throughout the years Where scripture relies on Ancient wisdom As core to Understanding God's world Ecclesiastes bases its wisdom off of Experimentation there's no other book Like it where you have this first person Voice who's telling you about a Lifetime's worth of experiment the book Stage is a big experiment where I tried This and I went and learned about this And then here's what I concluded the Conclusion of Ecclesiastes is that life Is heavil hevel hevel everything is Heavil and while modern translations Typically translate that Hebrew word Into the word meaningless in Hebrew it's Literally the word for smoke or vapor Smoke is real like when you see it a Cloud of smoke you look at it and go oh That's a thing look at it I can see it I Can point at it but smoke has this Unique quality that when I reach out my Hands to grab onto it there's nothing There this metaphor that life is like Smoke is lost in the translation that Life is meaningless because what the Teacher isn't saying is I know all the Answers and I declare to you that life Is meaningless what he's saying is I've Discovered there's a glitch in the System and things that I thought were

Certain and true aren't always certain And true hevel hevel everything is Heavil uses the word 38 times in this Short 12th chapter book Michael Fox my Doctoral advisor he thought the best English word to capture it is absurd or I've come to prefer the word enigma or Paradox the wisdom of Ecclesiastes the Second book in our wisdom series let's Go Thank you Please Okay so Ecclesiastes Let's First Tee this up let's Refresh on Proverbs so we can compare the wisdom of The Proverbs to the wisdom of Ecclesiastes so Proverbs is this nice Kind of clean world view which is be Wise fear the lord and things are going To go well things are very likely to go Well so much so that yeah lady wisdom or The Father Figure in Proverbs can say Trust the Lord with all your heart don't Lean on your own understanding be wise Fear the lord and it'll be Health to Your bones and your barns will be full Of crops and you'll live long days and Have a big family that sounds great who Doesn't want that yeah do the right Thing yeah and things will work out for You well which by the way is The world view I grew up in like there's A right and wrong decision at any moment Do the right thing and things will go

Well for you yeah and that so yeah Proverbs has a really valuable Contribution to the Bible's wisdom Literature we can probably all from our Own life experience validate that when We make wise decisions they usually go Better it's it's wise to be wise it's Wise to be wise yeah yeah so uh that's Kind of self-evident after you've lived For a little while but then we get to The Book of Ecclesiastes and there's This massive turn here yeah put some Breaks on Proverbs yeah and it may be That there are some cynics or Skeptics When they are listening to the Proverbs Saying well okay I get it and sure That's true a lot of the time but it's Not necessarily true all the time I Remember that time I saved up and then The stock market crashed right or I Remember I made all the right decisions Yeah I did all the right thing My CPA gave me a checklist and I did it All Yes or my my taxes my advisor yeah I Like sit worked hard and saved up and Went to college yeah put in my years and I got this degree and I I can't get Hired anywhere right what's up with that The wise thing doesn't always work out And part of that is because it's it's Hard to know exactly what the wisest Thing always is there's conventional Wisdom go to college safer time or Whatever but then in the Proverbs

There's wisdom that should be Universal That you should be able to depend on Yeah and but even with that stuff yeah That's right I I was always honest at Work yeah you know so I'm supposed to be Honest be honest that's part of fearing God so I'm always honest at work and you Know what I lost it but it reminds me I Was working at Starbucks and um I was Applying to be a shift manager and so I Was meeting with the district manager And the manager of my store getting Interviewed and the last question was Give me an example of a time that you Made the wrong decision on the job the First thing that came to mind was that The day before we're closing up and and You're supposed to clean the bathrooms And there's this whole list of things to Do and there's always like three people Cleaning up so I went to go to the Bathroom right before we're going to Leave and the bathroom's a mess so the Girl who was supposed to do it didn't do It and I was like well who cares and Then we left and so I'm sitting here Across from the district manager and She's asking me like when I made a Mistake and I said oh well you know a Couple days ago And she looks at me and she goes you did What and she was shocked yes she was Like you you I can't believe you didn't Fix that and then I was like oh no I'm

Not going to get this job It makes me think of I was recently Talking to a friend who works in home Real estate here in Portland Which is really hot market right now Yeah And she was saying she uh quit one group One company and moved to another Basically she just said I I wasn't Cooking the numbers on listings and Listing houses for more than what They're worth or less than what they're Worth or changing the number of rooms And so on just to get people in the House oh and then be like oh that was a Mistake yeah totally yes but all of her Co-workers like that's just what you do You change the data on the real estate Listing to get people interested into The house oh my goodness and she wasn't Getting promoted she wasn't getting as Much business or sales so she actually Had to quit so there was an example yeah Of someone who lost out because they Were fearing the Lord yeah and not That's a better example because I Actually I got the job yeah but um so All it's just two examples to say you Try and do the right thing and sometimes It does work out sometimes it doesn't Yeah and Proverbs doesn't seem to Account for that glitch in the system Right and so Ecclesiastes this is a Voice among the three wisdom voices in

The Hebrew scriptures that says hey wait A minute Proverbs you're going too fast Too soon like do you see all of these Other examples where what you're saying Doesn't work out right and what about Those let's like let's focus on those Yeah and can we draw conclusions from Them and maybe life isn't as clean as we Like to think about Ecclesiastes doesn't Do it in like um It it goes for the jugular yeah it's Like let's throw down yeah Proverbs You've you've overreached So that's fascinating and then so your Comment earlier was hey this book's in The Bible isn't that funny so like tell Me about that like it doesn't seem the Way that it goes for the jugular and the Way that it kind of deconstructs so many Things it feels very different yeah than Most other books yeah it is it has a Different feel there's no other book Like it where you have this first person Voice who's telling you about a Lifetime's worth of experiment the book Stage is a big experiment where I tried This and I went and learned about this And then here's what I concluded whereas Proverbs receives the wisdom of the ages From Generations past that's what we Talked about but Ecclesiastes is basing His conclusions on experimentation Innovating new ideas based off of Experiment my doctoral advisor Michael

Fox at the University of Wisconsin he's Retired now but he is a Jewish scholar Even his late 60s when I was with him For about four years working closely With him and he wrote commentaries on All the wisdom books job Proverbs and Ecclesiastes and is the most brilliant One was on Ecclesiastes and his way is Framing it is for Proverbs you know it's True because it's ancient and old and Has been tested And Ecclesiastes innovate in the Biblical tradition because he says you Know it's true because you've tested and Examined it here in the present and he Thinks it's it's in the wisdom books it Marks a new point of maybe just because It's old doesn't mean it's true and that That's uh that's unique in the Bible There's not many other books that That say something like that right well And then also it's it deconstructs a lot Yes yeah yeah it's all it's asking a lot Of questions and doesn't have simple Answers and which is that seems Different than most other people yeah Yeah it is yeah he's uh the the teacher Yeah he's Relentless in uh taking apart Simple black and white views of God and Views of the world and how I Ought to work Foreign Teacher's voice that makes up most of The book is not the author's voice right

The author of the book speaks in the First line introducing us to the teacher But then yep in chapter one verse one And then in chapter one verse 2 the Teacher takes over until nearly the end Of chapter 12 but the last paragraph of The book is not from the teacher we've Been hearing it's from the author yeah And the author says positive things About what you just heard from the Teacher but he also warns you he Critiques the critics he critiques the Criticism and then the author's Conclusion at the end sounds like Moses You know fear God yeah obey the law it's A little bit more yeah in line with with The narrative so far yeah with what you Know you could call it biblical Orthodoxy right something so to me That's absolutely fascinating that this Biblical author who's Anonymous wants us To hear at length this very critical Skeptical voice yes and is willing even To let some go for yeah let him run yeah For yeah and at the end wants to say now Let's bring this in line with the larger Biblical theology but you really need to Hear what this guy has to say right it's A way of hedging a little bit on the Teacher and saying you know don't take This too far you can read books all your Life and make them even and you won't Get anywhere it'll just exhaust you he Says yeah so so don't take these words

Too far but let them bother you and Stick in your mind so that you aren't Shattered when your life doesn't work Out for you so interesting yeah so that Brings us to Um who is the teacher and the author's Intro just says he was a king in Jerusalem and a descendant from the line Of David right which makes you think Okay Solomon right he's a wise man you Know and traditionally Um this book has been in Jewish and Christian tradition been connected to Solomon in his old age because you know He has he's old and wise and he's done a Lot and seen a lot but there's some Problems with that one is that Solomon In his old age was apostate And you know I had hundreds of wives and Political alliances and worshiped all Kinds of other gods and this seems a Very unlikely book to come from the Solomon what would you imagine Solomon having written in his old age I Mean just the biblical depiction is that His Allegiance was given to many gods Now in addition to Yahweh the god of Israel yeah so I don't I've never quite Had that question put to me that way I don't know at the top of my head I I Don't know I actually need to need to Think about that question a little more But it raises what's very interesting When the Book of Proverbs it began

Saying the Proverbs of Solomon right and It goes on to give you a bunch of Speeches from an anonymous father to his Son and then from Lady wisdom then you Get a collections of Proverbs most of Which have Again The Heading Proverbs of Solomon but the last number of chapters Have new headings that just say these Are Proverbs that come from the wise Ones or from agor or from Lemuel what His mom taught him and so you have a Book that's titled and connected to Solomon but it tells you in in it the Book itself that not all of this comes From Solomon right so here we have Another book Um that gives you a hint of a royal Solomon-like persona but it never says That in the book it never it never says Solomon in the book yeah and so you can Say well it just assumes that Solomon or You can say no there's something more Happening here the salt it's conspicuous By its absence sure that the book Doesn't say Solomon it just says a king In Jerusalem yeah from the you know from Long ago which raises the possibility is This a later king or are we almost Having a creating like an icon Of the wise voice right the father of The wisdom tradition but it doesn't Necessarily mean that it was Historically written by Solomon itself Because we know the teacher is not the

Same as the author of the book right so The author somehow came across these Writings That he knew came from a king that was The son of David and by that that could Literally mean there was a king it could Have been Solomon could have been Another one of the sons of David that Was king at some point who actually Wrote this and the author compiled it or It could mean in the tradition of the Wisdom of the Kings yeah similar to the Song of songs yeah which says of Solomon But um that doesn't necessarily mean it Was written by Solomon in fact there are Lots of good reasons that it most likely Wasn't written by Solomon right and so He just was using the the kingship kind Of regardless of how this was actually Written I mean that's a possibility yeah Yeah it would be a um an anonymous Teacher in Jerusalem or Israel Um writing in the tradition of Solomon And writing from his Persona there's an Altern assessment scholar named tremper Longman who did his whole dissertation It's published now on this and that's Really it's something like Acadian Royal Autobiographies or something like that And Acadia acadian's a language that's a Cousin language to Hebrew but he was Studying in ancient Babylon this was a Genre of writing of the from the king's Court there would be higher describe or

A wise teacher to write a book in the First person as in the first person as If it's from the king's perspective yeah And so this was a a type of book that That people wrote yeah in the ancient World and it fits precisely the what we See in the Book of Ecclesiastes so the Author so the author gets this kind of Regardless of who wrote it it's it's Presented as this is yeah the words of Us the son of David the words from the Royal wisdom tradition yeah in Israel It's also funny there's another small Detail that I've always that was Interesting in chapter 1 verse 16 the Teacher says to himself uh look I have Increased in wisdom more than anyone who Has ruled in Jerusalem ever before me Out of all the rulers of Jerusalem ever Before me and you're like oh well my dad My dad sorry Dad yeah uh yeah that's all Well but he didn't rule in Jerusalem Because David made Jerusalem though oh Okay we could be wrong about this it Could come from Solomon I just think There are reasons that make it it's okay If someone comes and says I am probably Isn't or isn't Solomon you don't have to Freak out and Yeah and go yeah well my World view of the or my yeah I Understand the Bible or something yeah Shattering yeah if you really get into The book itself you realize that tying This to one specific person as the

Author it doesn't matter for the Interpretation of the book really you Just get into the words and interpret The words that come from the Royal Wisdom tradition of David Thank you Here's how the book begins So the words of the teacher son of David King and Jerusalem that's the author Speaking to us and then the author Summarizes everything the teacher has to Say in just one line this is kind of Like when the keynote speaker is being Yes like introduced yeah that's right It's just a quick little yeah it's like The emcee of your room introduces the Speaker and then says here's here's his Main here's his main idea yeah yeah Enjoy Um and I right off the bat we Face a Translation problem so in The New International Version the author's Summary is meaningless meaningless is What the teacher says utterly Meaningless everything's meaningless but If I Turn To The New American Standard Version what was that that version it Was that NIV that was The New International Version NIV yeah if I Turn To The New American Standard Nas I read Vanity a vanity is Everything is Vanity so meaningless to Me Yeah there's no meaning so there's no

Reason behind any of that yes I have Surveyed and here is my authoritative Conclusion There is no meaning there is no meaning Um and then vanity seems to be like all Of this is just an exercise in futility I don't know actually I haven't thought About the vanity much what is I I never use that word well actually I Suffer if you're exactly right so I Think that's the problem in Modern English the way we speak it in 2016 van The word vanity has two main areas Yeah it means like self uh exaltation And pride yeah or it's uh little table Yeah sit at to put on Cosmetics right Which which then speaks to yeah like Caring how you look that's self-focused Yeah yeah yeah and life is self-focused Right which is not at all what uh is Meant here and part of that is that the Translation vanity comes from the King James from English 400 years yeah yeah Using words a little different yeah so The meaning of the English word is Changed Um so I I think both of those Translations get at an aspect of what The teacher's trying to say I always Hate to do this because I never want to Erode people's confidence in English Translations because they're great but There are cases where they they're Translations and they can't fully

Communicate everything that the Hebrew Author wants to communicate and this is One of those times where Um really interesting podcast is Figuring out the history of why these Were translated this way I don't know I Just gonna be interested in yeah well For English it always goes back to Tinsdale Tyndale and then Tyndale had Influence over what was called the Geneva Bible and then the King James Okay were the two men there's got to be A story of that moment where they're Like looking at this yeah yeah yeah Hebrew word and they're making a Decision yes Um yeah because they know what the word Is and and you're about to tell us what The Hebrew word is more literally so They must have been wrestling with that Yeah yeah for sure they did and also but Also and this is not to be prideful or Anything but their understanding of Hebrew was 500 years old yeah and it Wasn't as complete yeah so like we the The study of ancient Hebrew over the Last half of Millennia I mean it's Progressed enormously just like our Understanding of Science and the Universe has progressed and so because At that point Hebrew wasn't a spoken Language at all wasn't spoken anymore as Biblical Hebrew and the the wealth of Ancient Hebrew texts and cousin

Languages to Hebrew hadn't been Discovered and studied yet okay so just We have a we have a better understanding Of Hebrew than we did 400 years ago and A lot of the translation differences That happen in modern translations are Based on more recent scholarships so Tyndale he's reading this he's got to Make a decision and he goes with Meaningless no he goes with me Vanity Vanity which back then we don't even Know what well yeah the English vanity I I think it means So I think it essentially means what Meaningless does in Modern English oh Really okay but you you tell me uh few Tyler worthless from old French vanity Self-conceit utility lack of resolve From Latin vanity Tatum emptiness Aimlessness falsity But then figuratively it became about Foolishness and pride um So even back then it kind of had that Sense both of those yeah so I would Humbly suggest that we just go back to The source yeah and uh because go to the Hebrew yeah go to uh the Hebrew word the Hebrew words simple to say it's not hard To pronounce uh hevel hevel hevel H-e uh technically the letter B of the Hebrew alphabet but they pronounces like A V it's a hevel level In its most basic meaning is smoke or Vapor in Psalm 144 the poet says Lord

What are human beings that you care About them they are like heavil their Days are like a fleeting shadow So the idea is human beings here today Gone tomorrow They're like A wisp of smoke And then the next line they're like a Fleeting Shadow so the shadow moves from The morning down all the way to you know Across and then it's gone when the sun Sets your shadow disappears so the point Is fleeting temporary but it's smoke uh That it's a wisp of smoke that you see It and then it's gone so that's its most Basic meaning uh of hevel is a wisp of Smoke or vapor or Shadow uh Shadow is Just in Psalm 144 it's the next poetic Line which uses a different word and Different metaphor Um so but the point is that at its most Basic meaning it's a wisp of smoke That's temporary it is here and it looks Solid you're like oh there it is that's Smoke and then Gun and do you think back then it also Then meant figuratively what would be Another good word like futile or Um well we'll get there that's where the The teacher is going to apply this word And bring out a Nuance of meaning that Is not very common but it's going to be One of the main meanings like is this Very poetic like at this point are

People gonna be like oh I've never Really thought of that Um the life like heavil or is that going To be have already become part of no It's very common yeah so job Um chapter 7 he says I despise my life My suffering I wish I wasn't alive my Days are like heavil yeah the psalm the Psalm says uh slaves and the poor their Lives are like heavil in the world okay Um Isaiah 57 Idols uh this is actually In Isaiah and Jeremiah their word to Describe Idol statues is hevel so there It's not necessarily that they're Temporary but they seem to be solid and Offer you something real that's empty You you like you prayed your idol you Know and and then nothing happens I love That metaphor I love that image we don't Have anything quite like it do we no Well I mean I uh Vape Vapor I guess I I Think I understand now meaningless gets There because it's like you think There's meaning there yes yeah you think There's something of substance there but Then it goes away yes so so Um I think there's you know any word in Any language can have different nuances Of meaning so as it's most basic it Means temporary or fleeting like when The in the verses we just read of it's Here today the slave and the poor person Or my life I'm a mortal human Um so in Chapter 11

Of Ecclesiastes is a poem about uh death And a long one and so in chapter 11 Verse 8 the teacher says listen however Many years somebody is gonna live you Should enjoy them because you should Remember the days of darkness they're Coming and everything to come is heavil So this point is you're young and you're Youthful and your body works great but Remember it's heavil it's here today Gone tomorrow because the days of Darkness are coming So your Youth and energy and health it's Fleeting it's heavily doesn't mean it's Meaningless sure it means you it's not Going to be around forever it's going to Be here and then and whether or not you Think there's meaning in that is another Question correct it's only about time That's a Time Factor here today gone Tomorrow your youth your health your Life but if you're talking about an idol And you're calling it yes right then you Would go oh so there's no meaning in That Idol yes yes no yes no and so then This is what I call would call the Second Nuance okay that the teacher Taps Into when he uses the word hevel he uses The word 38 times in this short 12th Chapter book it's he's using it Constantly and most of the times he's Not doesn't use it to mean fleeting or Temporary he uses it to mean Um the way Michael Fox my doctoral

Advisor he thought the best English word To capture it is absurd hmm Um there you go or I've come to prefer The word enigma or Paradox Um so here's a couple examples wait a Second sorry you just went to Great Lengths to say Heavil means like the vapor or something That's like it doesn't last and now You're saying in this book it actually Is more talking about another aspect of It which is not whether it lasts but Whether it's makes sense well uh so the Teacher is a brilliant a brilliant Wordsmith and so he's using a word That's capable of a couple of different Nuances of meaning and sometimes he'll Use it to mean fleeting or temporary Like in the beginning you're young in Chapter 11 you're young you have youth But the days of darkness are coming your Life's heavil but he doesn't bring out That temporary Nuance of the word in all Of those 38 uses in fact that's a Minority of how he uses the word the Majority of the times it uses the word He means something different if you read The word in context so yeah give me an Example so uh chapter six verse one God Allows some people to have wealth and Possessions and honor so that they lack Nothing that their hearts desire it's Nice of God But God doesn't always grant them the

Ability to enjoy them and then one day Some stranger is going to enjoy them Instead this is hevel Or uh chapter 8 verse 14. you know Here's something heavil that occurs in The land Righteous people get what Wicked people Deserve and wicked people get what Righteous people deserve this I say is Heavil Y so it's what he doesn't mean is Temporary he actually means the opposite He's saying this is happening all the Time yeah this isn't just happening in Reality this is a reality that's ongoing And constant but it's a reality that he Wants to use the same word which means Like smoke or vapor vapor smoke so like It's There's a disorientingness to it there's A Here's my way of saying it is Um it's similar to the idols that you Smoke is real like when you see a cloud Of smoke you look at it and go oh that's A thing yeah look at it I can see it I Can point at it just like I can point to A rock or a door and see that's a thing Yeah but smoke has this unique quality That when I reach out my hands right to Grab onto it there's nothing there yeah When I reach out to grab a rock it's Solid it's there yeah I feel like when You're looking at fog like if you're

Above the fog line you're looking at it It looks like this nice big blanket yeah Clouds like clouds like clouds yeah like When you're a kid you look up at the Clouds and you wish you could go lay on One right or you're above the clouds you Look down on a plane and yeah it looks Like really soft and but then when You're in the fog driving around yeah it Just it just looks like a haze it's like In your yeah yeah yeah heavily it's Heavily so Um here I am living my life and I work At a real estate company and it seems Like telling the truth right Ought to bring me success because it's The right thing to do and that's Justice And that's good And I can count on it it's real I'm not We're not making up justice we all want It to happen right we all know what Everyone else to be honest with us yeah Totally and we all know what Justice Looks like when we see it happen it's The right thing but then I go out and I Do the right thing and I'm honest for it I'm punished for it and I lose out yeah It's heavily and and what he doesn't Mean is therefore it's everything's Meaningless what he means is I don't get That it seems like justice is real we Can all know it but sometimes when Justice is done it doesn't good things Don't happen bad things happen that's

Heavily that's why I think the word Absurd yeah or Enigma or Paradox because What the teacher isn't saying is I know All the answers and I declare to you That life is meaningless what he's Saying is I've discovered there's a glitch in the System yeah and things that I thought Were certain and true aren't always Certain and true and that's the Definition of paradox it's not Contradiction well now it's couldn't he Have used a word that more literally Means riddle or Paradox or Enigma I mean There's got to be another Hebrew word Um sure but he chose this image and Metaphor that I think Once you get it so so instead of using Maybe a more straightforward like word Like larger oriented yeah he decided Well we're running with this word heavil Typically it means smoke or vapor but Sometimes poetically can mean Um uh Temporary yeah my life is heavily life Is heavily but I'm gonna take that Language and now I'm going to push it Further and say the the wisdom of the Proverbs has hevel to it because it Doesn't always seem to work out and so Now let's live in this metaphor and like In the same way that that Idol when you Reach out and it just dissipates like Even when you reach out and try to do

The right thing and fear God and all This stuff there's still that sense to It as well and it's disorienting you're In the fog you don't have the answers It's not clear why it's confusing Table yeah it's heavil so he's he's Innovating he's using an existing word That has this possibility of nuance of Meaning of doesn't it's not real or it Doesn't work out and then he pushes it Sure well poets do this all the time and Poets do this all the time yeah they'll Use a word but in a different way and Context and then and then that becomes If it becomes a popular poem or a Popular thought then it just becomes Part of the vernacular that people use That word that way yeah yeah so I'm Curious like did he do this or did this Word was this word already used this way And you're just running with it Um well and so that's about yeah that's A complex question about the development Of words meanings and so on what we can See is in the prophets this idea of Hevel as not temporary but as seeming Real but then Just an Illusion Uh is they use the word heavil to apply That idea to idols and the teacher is Using that I Nuance of hevel and Applying it to all of life and wisdom And righteousness Thank you Foreign

Isn't this really scandalous though from A Jewish point of view in which it's Like God said here's what I promise you And he will do it as long as you uphold Your end of the bargain and so that's Like keeping the Commandments and then This wisdom of the Proverbs runs with That and says yeah in fact you can apply God's wisdom to all these areas in life And things will go well for you and so You know when things aren't going well It's because you've been making a Mistake and you haven't been holding up Your end of the bargain but then you get This book and He like turns that on its head yes well That's true but it's not it's not Scandalous maybe the way it is to Modern Christians from a certain background uh In many ways it's very Jewish Um but it wouldn't have it wouldn't have Been scandalous to it yeah I'm a better Way to say that is the Bible contains Within itself these words and a story From God but then the Hebrew Bible Specifically has also within itself the Human response to that Um so the book of Psalms is prayers for The most part people's words to God uh Some of them thanking God for his Awesomeness and what he does and then a Whole bunch of them are saying like wait A minute this isn't working out what's Happening God I'm angry dang it why

Don't you do something and so that's a Whole part of the Bible is people Getting angry at God yeah inventing Their emotion Um and so here is another example of Within God's word to his people Is a human voice Saying wait a minute it doesn't always Work out the way Proverbs said it would And that God that human word becomes Part of God's word to his people and So Within Jewish culture Jewish culture as It goes on you know throughout history Really has always contained well I think This dialogue and intention of Perspectives yeah it's contained within The Bible itself that continues on in The tradition of the yeah so the mishnah And the talmud these are discussions About how to live out the laws of the Torah but it'll be a whole chapter on How to obey the Sabbath and the chapter Just contains the perspective of 18 Different rabbis right and doesn't tell You what to conclude yeah it just gives You the perspective of 18 different That's a very Jewish thing as you can Allow for the tension within your Tradition uh yes and the Book of prophet Excuse me the book of Ecclesiastes Does that so well with this the two Voices because the author says listen to The words of this teacher but listen You know he's going to give an orthodox

Conclusion and then there's me as like a You know a modern Western Christian Who goes wait a second how can this be In the Bible right because that because That's not from my tradition where you Like I never went to church and one guy Gets up and he's like hey so here's you Know how to follow Jesus and here's like What you should think about this thing Going on in the world right now and then Another guy gets up and goes cool that Was that was nice but I'm a you know I Think following Jesus means this and and This is what you should think about this Current event and then you go away from That service Okay what do I do that never happened That never ever happens So like yeah like Ecclesiastes has this Like sense to it of like what do I do With this and what you do with it is you Listen to it then you go listen to job And then you have three different Perspectives on how to live well in God's good world and hopefully you've Listened to all of them honestly with an Open mind and you will be a wiser better Human If you take all three of them seriously I think that's the point this is Stereo Stereo it's so different stereo is two Things coming at you right stereo yeah So what's three things Dolby Surround Sound don't be surrounded yeah that's

The wisdom books are Dolby Surround Sound there's five five things I think Yeah anyhow um yeah that's a good that's A good image that's just different I Mean it's very different than it makes Me think of scripture differently I Think I come from a Um well let's boil it down to a Systematic Theology which is like the Book that gives you the answers and the Way that you're saying the wisdom Literature in particular written is Um I'm gonna give you three different Books with three different points of View and that's the answer for you the Answer is you living in tension between All three of these books yes and they Don't contradict each other they Complement each other because Proverbs Actually never said this is airtight and How always work kind of feels that way Yeah but but you read it and you walk Away and you feel that way sure however It's a Book of Proverbs like the form of The book itself is a proverb not not as I said it's the genre Proverbs not the Book of promises right and so Ecclesiastes comes along and and says You know Um it's not airtight and here's a whole Bunch of examples and how do you reckon And live with that and and the the Teacher's conclusion isn't therefore go Be a relativist or a hedonist you know

Uh he's actually still gonna say it's Better to to be wise and fear God but But you should adjust your expectations Yeah Um so that your world view isn't Shattered when horrible things happen to You for doing the right thing so yeah And that's that's the significant point Of why I think meaningless is not a Helpful translation because meaningless Makes you think oh here's the Authoritative conclusion right there is No meaning and that's not what he's Saying what he's saying is Enigma there are some things that happen In life that are just a true glitch in The system and you don't know why you're Not gonna be able to figure it out You're not going to be able to figure it Out which is very it's related then to What God Says to job very similar to job Um except it with job we are given a Window into the heavens and a bit more Understanding of why something happens To somebody even though we don't Actually really get the full answer yeah Even though it still leaves you with a Ton of questions yeah yeah so we'll talk About them when we get to job but Ecclesiastes is just saying the system Doesn't always work perfectly the wisdom Fear of the Lord's system and you're not Going to be able to figure it out it's Heavil it's real but it's also not

Always real so there's a there's a Um kind of an agnosticism about it in Some ways not in that he doesn't yeah There's a God or that that there's thing But are you saying there's plenty that We can't know yeah they're gonna be Nothing so you can't no and not listen We're just at verse two of the book so That's not where he ends it's where he Begins Um Because he he's gonna have a lot of Recommendations about how you deal with That and how you live well in God's World even knowing that things are Heavily Can we talk about this first example I Just think it's so interesting the first Example six one uh of the Paradox God Gives some people well from sessions and Honor so that they lack nothing their Hearts desire first of all that sounds Amazing Yeah everything my heart desires I get Um wealth possessions honor I'm just Stoked Um God gave that to some people yeah Yeah they get it they get all that they Wish and wanted which is I think what Everyone really like is kind of longing For longing for I just want to have the Stuff I need I want to have people Respect me uh I want to be taken care of Because my heart is always longing for

Things and if I had the stuff then my Heart would be satiated yes and God has Given that to some people well is that What he's saying is this just but the Sentence goes on well the sentence goes On but can we just stop right there like If you're a king you kind of have that In a sense yeah everything you would Need everyone was supposed to respect You like if you're a celebrity well I Think he's playing into perception here Okay so he's not saying because it's not The end of the sentence he plays into Perception that some people have well Possession honor and everything they Want they yet yeah Um but this actually is chapter six it's A culmination of a of a line of thought That started in back in chapter two Is that even people who get those things Paradoxically hate their lives yeah Which is so true a lot of times yes and How they all that they had to go through To acquire all of that stuff by the time They have it all they're stressed out And can't sleep at night and old yeah And exhausted So he finished this and says they lack Nothing their hearts desire but those Are the same people usually that God Hasn't granted an ability to enjoy them Because they had to kill themselves to Get all this yeah and then they die and Someone else enjoys it and all of their

Wealth goes on to irresponsible trust Fund kids or or whatever like on to Somebody else and strangers get to Benefit from everything that they worked For But the person who worked for it yeah You know dies because of ulcers or even When they're alive like it's other People yes that's right get to enjoy it Yeah the things that they've Accomplished so he says here's an Example where somebody worked hard Feared the Lord was wise got all this Stuff they lacked nothing their hearts Desire but their life actually became Miserable to them through acquiring all Of that and then they didn't even truly Get to enjoy it other people enjoy it It's hevel Yeah it's like somebody lived by Proverbs three you know I was like trust I trust the Lord will you tell me a Story about that someone that we know Who got really famous got all this money Like but was this upright dude and just Was killing it he's just like you know Writing books and like uh whatever and Then we find out like you tell me like Yeah he's actually really really Depressed and it's like is now addicted To whatever and now blah blah it'd be Like oh my goodness what a bummer why Like how did it really is gut-wrenching To know that like man you you had it and

Made and then then you went and gambled This way or you went and did that yeah Or you just weren't able to enjoy it Because of or you're just depressed yeah The mindset that that your Accomplishments and then and then it Would be frustrating be like why does it Have to be that way there's a and and There wouldn't be in a clear answer yes Yeah so yeah his wealth possessions Honor those are the very things that Proverbs said you would get by living Wise Lord and you've got them and you Hate your life and you can't enjoy it Yeah that's heavily again it's not Meaningless That's a paradox yeah that's not how the System's supposed to work you're Supposed to it's a troubling kind of Glitch that the Proverbs didn't Expose And notice he begins he says God gives Some people this so this is how it works Out sometimes right some people have Wealth possessions on her and it's great They have big families and they're happy And die at a ripe old age and but not Everybody so again Proverbs doesn't give You the exceptions to the rule and Ecclesiastes comes and says let's talk About those exceptions right Um because they expose that things Aren't as black and white as you thought They're hevel Um it's a it's a paradox which is

Different than a contradiction I think You hear meaningless and you say oh it's A contradiction life has no meaning and It's a contradiction in the biblical Worldview where life has meaning because God created it with a purpose so there's More meaning to life yeah but a Contradiction means I know because I Have surveyed all the data and no this Is a genuine contradiction these can't Exist together right and that's Different than paradox paradox is saying From my vantage point with the limited Data and perspective that I have I can't See how things go together it doesn't Mean they're not reconcilable It just means I can't reconcile them but I'm not God and I'm and I I think that's What the teacher's trying to say from my From here under the sun which is a Phrase he uses 28 times here Humans who are not Transcendent and Above all We look at life and what we see is Paradox oh sometimes from our Vantage Point Under the Sun yeah we we can't Discern why these things are happening As well just because I can't see meaning In some thing that happens in my life Doesn't mean there isn't meaning it just Means I don't have the perspective to See what what it is and you might never Have that person and you most likely Will never have that perspective like

Job Never got that perspective and like the Teacher The book is not trying to make you into An atheist the book's trying to make you A humble theist a humble fear of God to Know that you should fear God keep his Commandments as the author says at the End but don't expect that everything's Always going to work out for you Tragedies will happen things won't work Out and it doesn't mean that God's not Good it just means That life is full of paradoxes Under the Sun and that and that humbles you and Then that forces you to say well then How do I What are my motives for pursuing the Good life if there's so much heavily That's the end of part one and our Conversation of Ecclesiastes in the next Episode we'll continue this conversation And we'll dive into the specific Arguments that the teacher makes to Prove that the world is in fact heavil We make videos and we put them on YouTube This conversation is going to be turned Into a short animated video that Explains the wisdom of Ecclesiastes and It will be out in the summer of 2016. we Also have out an animated overview of Proverbs I really love it it came out Beautifully then we'll finish off that

Series with an overview of job that will Come out in the fall we also have a lot Of other videos we have outlines of Every book of the Bible in a read Scripture series those are all on YouTube you can find them at youtube.com The Bible project you can download them For free off of our website use them in Church school at home with your families Any way that you want to use them Or on Twitter at join Bible proj and on Facebook facebook.com the Bible project Say hi to us we'll catch you next time Thanks for being a part of this with us No regrets

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