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                       "THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES"

              The Preacher's Observations - II (Eccl Chapters 5 & 6)

INTRODUCTION

1. The Preacher has been explaining WHY he reached his conclusion that
   life "under the sun" is vanity...
   a. Based upon his personal experience - Chapters 1 & 2
   b. Based upon his personal observations - Chapters 3 thru 6

2. In chapters 3 and 4, we saw where he discussed...
   a. The inexplicable purpose of God
   b. The injustice and oppression of men
   c. The vanity of skillful and selfish work

3. Even so, he offered wisdom for living "under the sun":
   a. It is best to rejoice, do good, and enjoy the good of one's
      labor, realizing that such is a gift of God to those who please
      Him - Ec 3:12-13
   b. So we may appreciate the value of friends who can help us in time of
      work and need - Ec 4:9-10

[In chapters 5 and 6, he offers more wisdom as he continues to share
his wisdom for living "under the sun".  Notice his...]

I. COUNSEL REGARDING WORSHIP

   A. WHY PROPER WORSHIP IS IMPORTANT...
      1. Remember, the ability to enjoy the good of one's labor is a
         gift from God - Ec 2:24-26; Ec 3:12-14; 
      2. It is imperative that we please Him in our worship
         a. There is "vain worship", you know - cf. Mt 15:7-9 
         b. Therefore not all worship is acceptable to God

   B. HOW TO WORSHIP GOD...
      1. Walk prudently - Ec 5:1a
         a. Both the NIV and NASB say "Guard your steps"
         b. When one worships...
            1) He should give thought to what he will do
            2) He should be careful what he will do
      2. Draw near to hear - Ec 5:1b
         a. We should be concerned with learning what God has revealed
         b. Our attitude should be like that of...
            1) Young Samuel ("Speak, LORD, for Your servant hears.")
               - 1 Sam 3:9-10 
            2) The Bereans ("they received the word with all
               readiness") - Ac 17:11 
      3. Do not offer the sacrifice of fools - Ec 5:1c
         a. Again, not all worship is acceptable
         b. There is that kind of worship...
            1) That is an abomination to God - Pr 28:9 
            2) That the Lord will not accept - cf. Lk 6:46 
      4. Don't be rash with your vows (promises) - Ec 5:2-3
         a. Be careful what you say; remember...
            1) Jephthah's foolish vow - Judges 11:30-35 
            2) Herod's foolish promise - Mk 6:23-26 
         b. Give thought to what you say in prayer and song
            1) Do you consider the vows of commitment that are often
               made?
            2) Do you intend to keep them?
      5. Keep the vows you make - Ec 5:4-7
         a. God has no pleasure in fools
            1) Such as those who make vows and do not fulfill them
            2) Therefore it is better not to vow, than to vow and not
               pay
         b. Don't let your mouth cause you to sin
            1) Why make God angry, and destroy the work of your hands?
            2) Many words lead to vanity and sin -
               cf. Pro 10:19; Mt 12:36-37 

[The key thought in proper worship is to "fear God", that is, to
approach Him with the deepest respect and reverence.  Worship Him as He
directs, not as you might wish.  "Swift to hear, slow to speak" Ja 1:19
should be our attitude in worship if we wish to please God!

In the next two verses of our text, we see a word of...]

II. COMFORT REGARDING OPPRESSION

   A. OPPRESSION DOES OCCUR...
      1. As the Preacher observed in Ec 3:16
      2. And again in Ec 4:1

   B. YET THE PREACHER SAYS DO NOT MARVEL...
      1. Even when there is oppression of the poor and perversion of
         justice - Ec 5:8a
      2. For even high officials answer to someone else - Ec 5:8b;
         cf. Ro 13:1 
         a. Often in this life they are brought to justice
         b. But even if not, then there is the Day of Judgment!
      3. The profit taken in oppression usually comes back to all - Ec 5:9
         a. Those who oppress others to gain much rarely consume it all
         b. What profit from the land they gain "trickles down"
            eventually

[Of course, oppression of the poor and perversion of justice is often
motivated by the desire to be rich.  So we should not be surprised to
find the Preacher returning to the vanity of riches as he offers words
of...]

III. CAUTION REGARDING RICHES

   A. RICHES ARE VANITY...
      1. Because they are unable to truly satisfy - Ec 5:10-12
         a. Lovers of silver and abundance will never be satiated
         b. As they increase, so their desire for more will increase
      2. Because those obsessed with riches are hurt by them - Ec 5:13-17
         a. Riches can hurt those who possess them
            1) While a laboring man enjoys sweet sleep...
            2) ...the abundance of the rich provides too much turmoil
               for restful sleep!
         b. Through misfortune, or eventually through death, one loses
            their riches
         -- What value then are riches, if in the acquisition of them
            one must endure much sorrow, sickness, and anger? -
            cf. Pro 15:16-17; Pro 17:1

   B. THE PREACHER'S OBSERVATIONS CONCERNING RICHES...
      1. It is good to enjoy the good of one's labor - Ec 5:18
      2. But it is God who give one the power to truly enjoy them
         - Ec 5:19-20
      3. A sad situation is where God gives one the ability to acquire
         riches, but not to enjoy them! - Ec 6:1-2
      4. It matters little if one lives long and has a hundred
         children...
         a. Unless one is able to be satisfied (a gift which God
            gives), he is worse off than a still-born child! - Ec 6:3-5
         b. Even if he lives two thousand years! - Ec 6:6
      5. Riches in of themselves cannot satisfy the soul - Ec 6:7-9
         a. His body might be filled, but that is not what fills the
            soul
         b. It is better to be content with what you see, than to
            wander after for what you desire
      6. Riches really can't change things - Ec 6:10-11
         a. He is still "man", and cannot contend with God
         b. They are not the things that truly make man better; they
             only increase vanity
      7. The answers to life's questions can't be found in striving for
         riches - Ec 5:13-14

CONCLUSION

1. In asking questions like...
   a. "For who knows what is good for man in life, all the days of his
      vain life which he passes like a shadow?" -  Ec 6:12a
   b. "Who can tell a man what will happen after him under the
      sun?" - Ec 6:12b
   ...the Preacher illustrates the vanity of looking to riches for the
   answers

2. Indeed, the answers are to be found by turning to God, not riches,
   which is why:
   a. We need to be careful in our worship of God!
   b. We should draw near to hear what God has revealed through His
      Word!

It is particularly through "The Word" (Jesus, Jn 1:1 ) that we learn the
ultimate answers to the questions that challenged the Preacher.  For
Jesus has "abolished death and brought life and immortality to light
through the gospel." (2 Ti 1:10 ).

Ecclesiastes tells us that the answers to life are not found in the
things of this life.  Are we willing to accept the teaching of Him who
is both the Creator of life and the light of men? - Jn 1:2-4 
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