Term 4 2020

Ecclesiastes: The search for meaning in a world of chaos

In a world where the US President issues health advice based on the opinion of a “doctor” who believes lizards are running the United States Government and the human race has been infected with alien DNA (among many other strange conspiracy theories) how can we find any certainty and meaning? Is life pointless? These are the questions addressed by the book of Ecclesiastes. We take a deep dive into this thoroughly up-to-date book that will demand that we bring humility and teach-ability to the task of searching for meaning in a chaotic world.

A Word to the Wise   Ecclesiastes 7&8   25th October

  1. Can you think of examples of common proverbial wisdom or sayings that people quote? For example; a dog is man’s best friend, a picture is worth a thousand words etc. What makes them popular to quote?
  2. How would you determine if someone is wise or foolish? Does that match how they are determined in Ecclesiastes? Why is it better to be wise than foolish?
  3. How does the writer of Ecclesiastes describe the limits of human wisdom compared to the boundless wisdom of God? Why is there a difference?
  4. The teacher in Ecclesiastes 7:27-29 goes on a search to find upright/righteous people. Of his sample study of a 1000 people, he only found one. Does this contradict what he says in 7:20? And also, in 7:15-18?
  5. Are there two different types of righteousness being talked about in the passage? Discuss.
  6. In the Parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37, the three Jewish leaders pass by the man dying on the side of the road. They would have been familiar with the teachings of Ecclesiastes. Did helping the man become meaningless to them over maintaining their own holiness?

A Shroud Has No Pockets   Ecclesiastes 5&6   18th October

  1. What do you find satisfying in life? Do you sleep better when you have had a satisfying day? What might the preacher in Ecclesiastes say to you? Would you agree with him?
  2. How can your mouth lead you into sin (v5:6)? What sorts of sins in the passage are associated with our words?
  3. Chapter 5 V 8 says to not be surprised by the injustice in the world. Does this seem uncaring to you? What does the rest of the passage say is the cause of this injustice?
  4. Paul says “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” (1Timothy 6:10) Can you think of parables and other teachings of Jesus that illustrate this truth? What practical difference would an alternative and popular misquote of this verse: “Money is the root of all evil” make to our view of the world?
  5. How does the teaching of Ecclesiastes fit in with 1Timothy 6:10? In particular, how does this verse relate to the Teacher’s repeated advice to “eat, drink and find satisfaction in their toil”? How can we do this and avoid the temptation to love money and the things it buys?
  6. Is it possible to find satisfaction in your toil and for it to still be meaningless? Do you think this is what Ecclesiastes is teaching?

Friends for Life?   Ecclesiastes 4   11th October

  1. Do you like the book of Ecclesiastes? Why/why not?
  2. This chapter laments injustice. What is the place of lament in our individual Christian lives and our corporate life?
  3. Give one example of how this chapter guides you in relation to your paid or voluntary work.
  4. Can you identify envy in your past or present life? (sharing optional)
  5. V9-12 speak of the value of companionship. Our current situation of social distancing limits companionship. After 6 months of social distancing, how are you going with reaching out to others who are isolated? How can you renew your energy for reaching out?
  6. What is the problem with popularity (v15-16)?
  7. What is the significance of the phrase life ‘under the sun’ or ‘under the heavens’ in Ecclesiastes? What questions does it raise or answer?
  8. What is the unique contribution of the book of Ecclesiastes to the Bible? What is its purpose? Which potential errors in Christian theology can Ecclesiastes correct?

Much Ado About Nothing   Ecclesiastes 1   20th September

  1. A friend of yours asks you a hard question about the Bible which you are unsure of answering. How does that make you feel? Do you feel the need to answer the question as fast as you can? Or are you comfortable sitting with the question and not having an answer?
  2. “What do people gain from all their labours at which they toil under the sun?” How would you answer this for yourself?
  3. How do you feel about someone in the Bible claiming everything is meaningless? Do you agree with the claim ‘everything is meaningless’? Why/why not?
  4. How would a non-Christian define the word ‘wisdom’? How would a Christian define wisdom? What is the difference? Which definition do you most relate to?
  5. “For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.” Can you think of a time in your life when this has been true? When has this not been true?
  6. How is time represented in the passage? Is it a positive or negative view of time?