Making Sanity Out of Vanity: Christian Realism in the Book of Ecclesiastes
By: Stanley Gale
It’s hard to imagine these passages are from the Bible, but they are. The question is, how do we make sense of them? The key to understanding the book of Ecclesiastes is to see its goal and how it achieves that goal. The goal is stated in the last two verses of the book (Ecc. 12:13-14) summarized as ‘fear God and keep His commandments.’
How the book takes us there is by way of two teachers. The first teacher is a religious observer to life. He looks at life ‘under the sun’ and concludes life is ‘vanity’ (empty, meaningless, pointless), a chasing after wind. What he sees doesn’t jive with the idea of a sovereign, good God. The second teacher, whose comments bracket those of the first teacher in Eccl. 1:1-11 and 12:8-14, affirms what the first teacher says but insists that there is more than meets the eye. He lifts us to a vantage point above the sun, beyond the fallen created order, to a God who is and who reigns.
The Apostle Paul speaks to God’s answer in Christ to this ‘vanity’ and futility (see Rom. 8:18-21). Ecclesiastes frustrates our efforts to find hope and meaning in all the wrong places. It is written not only to make us realists; it is intended to make us redemptive realists, finding hope and life in Christ alone.
Publisher: Evangelical Press (2011)
Dimensions: 5.4 x 8.4″
Author: Gale, Stanley D.