Ecclesiastes is what?


Ecclesiastes is wisdom. For decades I puzzled over this book in the Old Testament but it was not until I attempted to perfectly document Zion did I really begin to appreciate this book. I now find kinship with the writer of Ecclesiastes and, for the record, Zion can be many things so any attempt to define it as just one is actually futile.

The writer of Ecclesiastes discovered the futility of defining everything as well and concluded any vain attempt at trying is simply a vain attempt at trying to define everything, which then becomes a vain attempt to define everything. All we get is a lot of wheel spinning when we approach such a huge subject matter with only the barest of crumbs for evidence. Knowledge and understanding is circular because all of creation is circular. That fact about creation being circular dips a little deep into physics I suppose, but study something long enough and that long pursuit of truth will take you right back to the beginning again. We can see this frustration with  “the teacher” in the very beginning of their writings

Everything is meaningless. The Teacher says it is all a waste of time! Do people really gain anything from all the hard work they do...?

Later he acknowledges there are seasons of everything, then ends his book with the admonition that books and intense study are meaningless;

 And further, my son, be admonished by these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, whether good or evil.

When "the teacher” finally exhausted his futility, he circled right back to the obvious conclusion. Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.  In between we see only frustration and the ramblings of a person in deep travail as he tried to seek God through knowledge and action, rather than through trust and faith. Take this excerpt as example:

So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me.  And who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? Yet they will have control over all the fruit of my toil into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless.  So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun.

Jesus appreciated "the teachers" perspective. Example below:

Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?” Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

 So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He.  And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

We often speak about our need for faith in God, but faith runs both directions. If we are faithful to God, God is then faithful to us.

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Ps. 91

If we are not faithful to God, God still remains faithful to us. Now, that is perfect love.

Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.

One of the basic doctrines of the ABC is the pursuit of the “Kingdom of God” through what has become, over time, a very ritualized baptism with a specific set of rules and incantation. This baptism has no basis in faith on God, but instead puts its faith and trust in the words and actions of the baptizer and in works. We are saved by grace through faith, not by words and works. There is much more written about faith than any possible work we can ever perform.  If we seek the “kingdom of God” through our works alone, including obeying the command to be baptized, we have simply taken just one tiny step of the journey. In some ways we may not have even made the journey at all. The remaining steps in the journey, to become close to the "kingdom of God", are not a futile study of hops between islands of knowledge and understanding, but are instead summed up in the two greatest commandments; love God, love your neighbor. A neighbor is someone who is most unlike yourself. 

There are no other commandments greater than these two.

If we track the ministry of Jesus, it too came down to these two greatest commands and the rest is ancillary. The message Jesus preached, and the way he lived his life, was straight out of the book of Ecclesiastes. Serve God, keep his commandments, that is the whole duty of man. Jesus advocated giving up the vain pursuit of knowledge that puffs up and advocated for the giving up of the vain pursuit of righteousness through self as well. His anger was against the Pharisee, not the imperfect or the "sinner". The Pharisees saw persons around them as being of lesser value and traded on their souls for money. Jesus saw value in all of mankind and was kind to those who followed him, no matter their background or "issues". Jesus accepted even the ones who were just there for the food.

The ten commandments can be summed up in these two greatest commandments; love God, love your neighbor. The law, for a time, displaced these commandments but the law, and all its tenets, was annihilated by the ministry of Jesus and is no longer of any effect. The law, when it first appeared, was deliberately made impossible to follow and became a curse for those in the desert who lost their trust in God. They demanded more clarification on what was right and what was wrong so the law was then given to them as a curse. Just like in Eden when mankind first acknowledged there was was separation of good and evil they too received a curse. All those commands from the Old Testament law became null and void at Jesus death. All of them.

I quote below from a “Medium” article  on this subject by R.L. Brandner, dated 6/27/23.  Medium is a forum for writers from around the globe and this individual started what he refers to as "New Ecclesiastes Ministries" on this site. This is just a fancy way of saying we should follow the two commandments and keep it simple, this is the whole duty of man and is not an actual new movement or church. Link to the entire article follows at the end of this post, but be aware it is behind a five dollar monthly paywall for Medium. Here is that excerpt:

“There is One Law, to treat others with kindness and respect” But what about the ten Commandments? What about Leviticus? What about people continuing in “sin”? I think we can all agree that the one simple law covers all of this. If you are treating someone with kindness and respect, do you murder them? Rape them? Steal from them? No, you don’t. This is such a universal concept that even atheists consider this a good way to conduct yourself as you journey through life.”

“There is One Sin — to cause harm, deliberately or by negligence, to another.” We cannot claim to be treating people with love and respect if we are actively engaged in harming them. This covers ANY harm you may do — physically, mentally or socially. This “sin” is always against others. It is impossible to sin against yourself, because you are consenting to whatever you do to yourself. If you want to abuse the hell out of yourself, that is your right. You may not harm others through your actions though. In any form.” 1

I couldn’t agree more with this writing. Every day our role is not to study knowledge, but instead study the person in the mirror, then seek a better reflection the next day. Our war, our wrestle, is not against persons, it is against the principalities that erect themselves into towering doctrines, sects, denominations, movements, false apostleship, and the like. These allow persons to assume a false moral high ground from which to sling rocks and arrows at others. Pharisees! Jesus did not like Pharisees!

The “Kingdom of God” is within you. The place of worship, that temple made without hands, is within you. We seek God not through outer sacrifice, religious pursuit of knowledge through books, or by any cognitive pursuit. We seek God within our soul, not with our mind, knowing we will never understand God completely. We are instead to seek God by acknowledging any attempt to define God is simply futile. God just is. There is not even a name we can attach to God. God just is. Seeking to define the "ways of God" is utter futility. Witness the writings of "the teacher" in Ecclesiastes as he begins to waken to the fact we know very little, and we know not who is truly of the Lord. 

As you do not know what is the way of the wind, or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child,so you do not know the works of God who makes everything. In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening do not withhold your hand; for you do not know which will prosper, either this or that, or whether both alike will be good. Ecc.11

Love and tolerance are the two greatest commands, It is impossible for us to know who are His and all other commands are obsolete and inferior.

Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing…And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

If a person truly wants to understand God, there is no “deeper understanding”, there is no “deeper knowledge”, there is no deeper anything than love. That is it. I have heard many times in the ABC, when explaining away multiple acts of hate and abuse, "we just hadn't grown enough in the Lord yet". Love needs no growth. Love is not deep. Love is not something far away. As God is near, love is near. And that is not just love for our "brother", it is a love for all, even the neighbor we might regard as "the enemy".

God may be complex, but love is not deep.  Warren Buffet got it right when he wrote; “The most important thing to do if you find yourself in a hole is to stop digging.” 

Love lies right on the ground but knowledge must be dug. Seeking deeper knowledge is works so we should seek love, not knowledge, as the ways of God are quite simple.

Love and tolerance, with simplicity, is all there is. The result of these two greatest commands are those things of which there is no law against; love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness… 

The rest, as the teacher of Ecclesiastes learned by suffering through vain futility, is all meaningless and will, in the end, burn as wood, hay and stubble. Love and tolerance are pure gold.



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