When I started working for a bible publisher, I heard the term “apologetics” for the first time. Then one of our youth pastors started studying apologetics and preaching. My mom never really cared for it or maybe it was the term itself she didn’t care for. I think that’s probably the only time I heard her complain about the preaching.
Apologetics is not apologizing, which I believe was Mom’s issue with the term. Like her, I felt the same way. I’m not apologizing for my faith, however I do want to learn how to defend it better and that is what apologetics is, “reasoned argument”. I don’t even like that definition, I don’t want to argue about my faith. I just want to be able to explain what I believe in a reasonable manner.
In high school, our lunch time table talks would often become somewhat apologetic in nature, looking back. I was friends with people of different faiths and we would talk about those differences, never expecting to change anyone’s mind, just to be better informed and, as young teenage girls, being curious about what happened in other churches. I often asked my parents to let me go to one of the other churches, but it wasn’t encouraged.
So, as I was cleaning out some things recently, I came across an apologetics bible I had used in 2010. The cover was falling apart and I was considering donating it to GoodWill, when I opened it up and started reading the introduction to Ecclesiastes. And now that’s where I’m at…studying the book of Ecclesiastes using my apologetics study bible and a new release from work, the Worldview study bible.
I’m not following any set reading plan, just using the resources I already have and going verse by verse, chapter by chapter. I’m also using a commentary, Exalting Jesus in Ecclesiastes.
I think the only thing I really knew about Ecclesiastes was that verse about the seasons and I might have only known that because of the song.
Thoughts on Solomon as the author, based on that commentary I’m using, he might have written Eccl. near the end of his life as if he was looking back over all the mistakes he had made…going from being the wisest man to the man who let lust and wealth consume him. Near the end of of life, he is saying all that was worthless and at the end of Eccl he is saying…just fear God, keep his commands…that’s it, not all the other stuff.
“We let good things become idols and we try to find satisfaction through created things instead of the Creator. Whatever you try to build your life on other than Jesus is ultimately utterly meaningless.”
God gave us good gifts – food, drink, relationships, and sex – to be used to “cause our hearts to worship our Creator” but we live in a fallen world, so now those gifts are not being used as He intended Now food is gluttony, drink is drunkenness and sex is adultery.
Chapter 1 starts with “the teacher” questioning what the purpose of everything is. He sounds depressed. He took all that God had given him and used it unwisely. After his kingdom, the Israelite kingdom is no longer united. He allowed idolatry into his life and it changed everything.
Why does God allow bad things to happen? (age old question)
Maybe it’s to remind us that we need God. (my thoughts there)
Solomon was promised a reign of peace, no war. I’m sure everything wasn’t all roses and butterflies, but I’d say his life was pretty good. And then he wanted to make it better, with more of everything (horses and women). At the end of his life, if that is when he wrote this, he realizes it was all “futile”.
Don’t we do the same thing? When things are going good, we forget about God, but when something bad happens, we call out to Him to save us. When things are good we indulge, we spend money, we accumulate. Then the bills come in and we beg God to show us how to pay for everything, to provide for us what we wanted, not what we needed.
The commentary compares Eccl. to the movie Groundhog Day, where Phil wakes up to the same day over and over again. He tries different things to get out of the cycle, but nothing changes. It’s the same day every day, over and over again. Finally he realizes that he can’t change the circumstances, so he changes his attitude and that is when everything changes for him.
My days look pretty similar to the days before. I work on the same stuff, talk to the same people, go to the same places. It can get depressing and seem meaningless. However I can change, not my circumstances, but my attitude. My niece sends me a picture of my great-nephew nearly everyday, just to make me smile. God does that too, maybe not a photograph, but something, everyday, that makes me look past the momentous of every day to see His glory, to feel His presence. In those moments, my attitude is changed and it’s not all futile.