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A Word to the Wise (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
July 4, 2022 4:00 am

A Word to the Wise (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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July 4, 2022 4:00 am

The Preacher in Ecclesiastes wrote that he'd seen all the things done under the sun, and all of them were meaningless. Has anything changed? How do we make sense of our days? Hear a brisk overview of Ecclesiastes on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


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The preacher in the book of Ecclesiastes rights I've seen all the things that are done under the sun. All of them are meaningless chasing after the wind. That sentiment leaves us wondering has anything changed how we make sense of our time on earth will explore the answers today on Truth for Life as Alastair Begg begins a fast-paced overview of the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible in the Old Testament in ecclesiastics Ecclesiastes chapter 1 reads as follows.

The words of the teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem meaningless meaningless as the teacher, utterly meaningless.

Everything is meaningless.

What does man gain from all his labor in which he toils under the sun generations, and generations go. The heiress remains forever. The sun rises and the sun sets and hurries back to where it rises the wind blows to the south and turns to the north round and round it goes, ever returning on its course.

All streams flow into the sea in the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again all things are wearisome more than one can say the eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear, its fill of hearing what has been will be again. What is been done will be done again.

There is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say look, there is something you it was here already long ago. It was here before our time. There is no remembrance of manifold and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow either teacher was king over Israel and Jerusalem, I devoted myself to study and to explore my wisdom. All that is done under heaven was a heavy burden God has laid on men I've seen all the things that are done under the sun. All of them are meaningless or chasing after the wind what is twisted cannot be straightened. What is lacking cannot be counted. I thought to myself, look, I have grown and increased in wisdom more than anyone who is ruled over Jerusalem before me. I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge than I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this to his or chasing after the wind for with much wisdom comes much sorrow. The more knowledge the more brief thanks be to God for his word father as we study the Bible together.

We need your help desperately futile exercise simply to listen to a man talking, but we believe that when your word is preached, that your voice is haired in a way that is promised to is in the Bible and that we don't fully understand what we know when it happens, we asked that it may happen now for the glory of Christ, and for our good.

For Jesus sake.


In reflecting on it. I think that a number of things a bit in the back of my mind that appointed me in this direction, all of which have taken place out with the country. I came back from speaking at the Southwest Bible Festival and was returning to the small private hotel where they had a made provision for me earlier in the day I had made the acquaintance of the proprietor and his wife, a nice man from Lancashire called Mark and his wife by the name of Ruth. When I go back quite late in the evening I discovered when I walked into the entranceway that in the at the parlor immediately on my right hand side which was the bar with a few extra tables.

Mark and Ruth were there with a small coterie of people and Simon into. I sit with them and to say hello and to be friendly and when I sat down. Ruth said to me, how did the talk, go so well II think it went fairly well.

There are a few people still awake when I finished I said which is which is usually a pretty good sign she's awarded you talk about started to tell her the outline of what I've been saying and suddenly, one of two ladies as sitting immediately to my right behind a big flat floral decoration. The lady right in the middle of what I'm saying launches out and says myth and dogma just like that myth and dogma. So I looked around the flowers and I said is that your name is no my name is Angela but what you're seeing is absolute rubbish is as early as the first time ever met this lady my life so I said well you want to talk about it.

Yes, she said, I'm studying philosophy.

I said that's interesting. Who are you starting so well.

I'm just studying generally is a will which philosophers of you find most helpful, which you can hardly think of a single philosopher at this point, which in fairness to her was largely due to the fact that she consumed a fair quantity of alcohol before I showed up and it was still in process. She and her sidekick Avril. Both of them dressed in navy blue and looking fairly prosperous and through the woods from the small private hotel. What I said did you find Nietzsche particularly helpful. And no, she said no.

I said how about Sartre said while he's good, but not a lot. I said what what about 20th century philosopher. The best that Britain could produce Bertrand Russell. Did you enjoy Russell and what about his answer only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, made a solos habitation be built. Angela is that what you're telling me to build your life on well then she started to say things a little more forcibly to make and when all was said and done, I went to bed about 150 in the morning they stayed downstairs. I could still hear them talking. When I drifted into unconsciousness in my room directly above the bar around 2:05 AM by that by the time Angela had promised to come to the talk on the Sunday evening but when I look for. Apparently she'd been in bed since early Sunday morning all the way through Sunday. Trying to recover from the events of the previous night Ruth, however, did come along. That was the first thing I was struck by the fact that here in all of this protestation of philosophy the words of the preacher run out ring out for with much wisdom comes much sorrow. The more knowledge the more grief the second event took place on Tuesday when in a small village in Shropshire. I went out for a stumble, and as I went down the road I scalded a run energies into a jog night: stumble so I went out for a stumble, and stumbled upon a church and a graveyard went into the graveyard. As is my one so that I could check out the tombstones and as I walked amongst the tombstones all by myself.

I noted that some would be in their since the 17th century somewhere large and some were small and some had worn away, but I went through them all looking for names and looking for quotations find myself stopping at a small plate in the grass.

I was drawn to it because of some freshly cut flowers and as I looked in the flowers nestled in with the flowers. I was a small porcelain bear. As I looked down. It was 10 years since the death of this 14-year-old boy and apparently members of his family had been there in the last few days of the last few hours memorializing his passing and reflecting on all that life might've been had they enjoyed him through the ages of 14 all the way through 24 find myself reflecting on the words of Ecclesiastes is better to go to a house of mourning, and a house of feasting is death is the destiny of everybody and the people are still alive should take that to heart. The third signpost came on the same day, but in the evening when in my responsibilities now to speak to a group of some 90 evangelical ministers we were pondering how it would be possible for each of these men to better be involved in reaching out to their community and also to equipping their people to do the same and in the course of a question-and-answer session, I found myself saying no gentleman you will never have an evangelistic church unless you yourself are an evangelistic pastor, you will never have an evangelistic outreach and congregation. Unless you have an evangelistic reaching out pastoral team, you will never find that the congregation is able to engage people in conversation to move them towards a consideration of who Christ is and why he came unless those who are in leadership are making that a way of life as I hear myself say that I was challenged by myself say well how well you're doing yourself smarty-pants is easy for you to sinister group of men and then run out of the country. But what are you doing I said to myself I wonder if it might not be possible to encourage the congregation along these lines of saying to a friend or to a neighbor expressly in the next three months to come and join us for worship son Sunday morning.

Would love to have you come we're going through an old book together told Ecclesiastes and I think you'll find that it is very apropos where life is being live what you have here in Ecclesiastes is a solid does of reality solid doors of reality T.S. Eliot on one occasion remark that humankind cannot bear very much reality. Men and women really can do with reality very much. That's why the constant interference in our lives is an introduction to fantasy to Mirage to that which is out and beyond, as if only we could get out of this place. It is the last thing we ever do and perhaps over there and beyond this little thoroughfare we can find the answers know the teacher as he introduces himself here in verse one is son of David and King in Jerusalem. Although he does not actually say I am Solomon Solomon best fits the description. I think you will agree, and his approach is to wrestle with the enigmas of life.

He is himself involved with the questions that he's raising is not like some distance University professor who is simply filing out various notions and then standing back and watching as the members of his class. I get embroiled in the discussion.

Rather, this individual is involved in the many questions that he raised some undisputed he has built an observation tower and he is billeted at ground level. He is right down where people are living their lives in one of the things that will become apparent as we try and do a chapter a time at least a chapter of time is that this book understands us. We often think. I wonder if I'll understand this book and of course you are requested to do so, but what we discover is that this group turns its searchlight on our lives and suddenly as we read it we say it would appear that the author of this book knows me when you find that out. Even this morning. You will notice in verse two that he begins with this conclusion begins with his conclusion in Jewish writing, it was customary to put the most important point upfront so that's what he does.

He said I want you to know, first of all, that everything is absolutely meaningless, meaningless is or is not a very pleasant thought now is not a particularly pleasant thought remember Elliott humankind doesn't do well with reality. Do not adjust your life. The problem is reality meaningless.

He sets now he puts his conclusion upfront in much the same way as the old Colombo shows use to operate remember that fellow with the lay there the raincoat. I think that's him and those programs. I think the article correctly always began by allowing the viewer to see who did it. So you have to wait to the end to find out who did it use the viewer knew who did it and then the whole program was about following Colombo as he puts the clues together to finally reach the conclusion that we already know. So the program begins with the conclusion and then everything else works towards is exactly how Ecclesiastes works.

Note there are certain phrases that are absolutely crucial. None more so than the little phrase here in verse three under the sun it comes some 30 times. Some 30 times what the writer is saying is this my perspective largely in this survey is taken not from the vantage point of an infinite personal creator God who has established a link with his creation, but is established from the framework of secular thinking or is bounded only by the framework of our lives from birth to death.

If you like and he says what I did was I sent out to examine the course of life from birth to death and I'm forced to conclude that if you simply stay in that box if you stay within those nine dollars, then I think I can adequately convince you that the conclusion must inevitably be that as Hemingway put it, life is a dirty trick, a short journey from nothingness to nothingness. Few months ago now and attending the Cleveland clinic. We engage in conversation concerning a mutual friend who had been a physician at the clinic. The reason we spoke of him was because of the mutual friendship, but also because he was coming back to the clinic to give a talk on alternative medicine to give a talk on the healing power and properties of prayer and as we observed that it was interesting that this scientific rationalist should somehow or another have the come to this conclusion, the physician volunteered to me this he said when I entered science and began to pursue medicine.

I did so because it appeared within that framework to give sensible and cohesive answers to life's questions.

Now he says I know that it doesn't it doesn't answer the huge questions of life not admired his honesty. But beyond that he had nothing to say what you say to your friend when they tell you that I don't have answers to the big questions once follow the line and move through it as quickly as we can do the facts of life as presented here by the preacher man do the facts of life bear out his thesis, namely, that life is meaningless. While look at what he points out.

First of all, he says in verse three. Here is a fact of life is marked by drudgery what is mine gain from all his labor in which he toils under the sun.

It's it's frankly boring. He sets at the inference life is all about punching in and punching out you punch in you punch out based on your card to stamp it out Stanford and you stamp it out.

It's Monday now it's Tuesday night, Wednesday knows there's enough until finally you punch out for the last time, and whether you are an engine driver. Whether you are a young executive with your schoolteacher.

Whether you're involved in the janitorial staff of the school doesn't matter what it is with your mother at home, whatever it may be the fact of the matter is that life is possessed by an inherent monotony. McCartney in a song pen.

Soon after the Beatles had broken up rights in this way every day she takes her morning back she wets her hair. She dies a towel around her and she's heading for the bedroom chair is just another day slipping into stockings stepping into shoes dipping in the pocket of a raincoat and in the office where the papers grow.

She takes a break, she pours a cup of coffee and she tries so hard just to stay awake is just another day and for many people. If we are honest enough to face the amazing finitude of it all.

We are like premature residents in our sad story seen in a retirement home. Individuals who are awakened at the same time every morning when the light is turned on, who are dressed who are fleeing down the hallway to sit in a lounge and just stared at a point on the wall to finally the afternoon shadows fall on the airfield back again to be undressed, to be placed in bed all over again and to wait for the light going on. The following morning, and many of our lights are actually possessed of that same kind of monotonous feel if we're honest.

No management understands this work-study people understand this and scientific journals are clear on quoting from one it says this, by and large people seldom enjoy their work, nor do they enjoy traveling to and from most jobs are repetitive, require very little personal initiative and for the most part, people are incapable of fulfilling anything like their full potential through them. People go to work that I do not enjoy and spend a considerable proportion of their working hours getting to work and then home. It thus looms large in a life that is not very pleasant at the outset is areas. But if we could get up and beyond that, you know that it would all be different. No, I don't think so. 1969. We have a man on the moon. One small step for a man, one giant step for mankind. But by 1980, Dr. Lewis Thomas writing in the Harvard Magazine says you can walk on the moon.

If you like, but there's nothing to do there except look of the earth, and when you've seen one error totally meaningless in a punch in and punch out. Simply go through this. Do your best to make sense of it, and finally die. I met a man who sang the blues. I asked him for some happy news to fact of life.

Secondly, verse four. Life is marred by transients. When I went to that graveyard. The numbers fell out of the way they always do the average out to around threescore years and 10 there are a couple 91's and 84 there was a 14 to 20, and so on.

I did the math in my head, which is always dangerous.

As you know, but I'm pretty sure that it would, right around threescore years and 10 the frailty of our lights this morning is not in question.

I walked on grass familiar to me in Scotland and as I walked down beaten paths not cart paths pudding with concrete in black stuff but just paths that had been eroded by many many travelers I was confronted by the fact that I walked these plants when I was three years old and before me. People walk to and before then people will and one of the pebbles on the seashore that I picked up and let pass through my hands these of been around for so long, that is Alistair Begg with the solid and somber dose of reality from the book of Ecclesiastes.

Your listing to Truth for Life. It is true that life can feel meaningless if we only consider life from birth to death.

That's why we love to teach the gospel, the good news to people all around the world. It's a message of hope to those who feel hopeless if you'd like to understand the gospel more clearly. We posted a short helpful video on our website that explains Jesus life is death and his resurrection. Find out how the gospel makes your life and death meaningful you can watch the video by searching Truth for story the Bible teaching you hear on this program is brought to you each day because of the generosity of blisters just like you. You probably heard me mention are truth partners. True partners are those who support Truth for Life each month, both prayerfully and financially. I mentioned it because truth partners are essential to this listener funded ministry without their faithful giving this program wouldn't be possible.

You can become one of our true partners by giving us a call at 888-588-7884 or you can go online to Truth for partner. When you do, you'll be invited to request both of the books we recommend each month Paul for no additional donation to our way of saying thanks for your partnership with us.

The book we've selected for you today is a perfect supplement to our current study. It's titled living life backward how Ecclesiastes teaches us to live in light of the end, the author of Ecclesiastes was a person just like you and me.

He asked the same questions about life that we ask today what is all of this mean what's the point, and it's these kinds of questions that the book living like backward explores in depth. When you read it you'll be encouraged to think about what the answers mean for you, how to align your priorities. You might even find that as you make adjustments in the way you go about your day. There is an increased sense of both joy and peace.

Request your copy of living life backward when you become a true partner can also request a book with a one-time donation to the Ministry of Truth for Life. Go to Truth for or if you'd rather mail your donation along with your request right to Truth for Life at PO Box 39, 8000, Cleveland, OH 44139 Bob Lapine thanks for listing today at some point most of us wondered, is there life after death. Join us tomorrow as well.

Exploring equally essential question. Is there life before death.

Today is Independence Day here in the United States and on behalf of our entire team of Truth for Life. We hope you and your family have the opportunity to celebrate together and to enjoy the holiday the Bible teaching of Alister Ben is furnished by Truth for Life learning

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