Ecclesiastes is one of my favorite books of the Bible. It has also been one of the most elusive, mysterious and misunderstood books of the Bible. For centuries Bible scholars did not believe this book that echoes the phrase “Meaningless, all is meaningless!” throughout could possibly be inspired by God. Yet this book contains unique eternal riches for the one who listens well.
“Ecclesiastes” itself means “one who gathers the people.” The author calls himself “Koheleth,” which means Preacher or Teacher. The Preacher sets out on a grand quest as relevant to us today as it was to his audience 3000 years ago: What is the meaning of our existence?
He uses the form of wisdom literature to observe and explore the injustices, paradoxes and futilities we all experience in our lives “under the sun.” The heart of our existential frustration is this: “He has set eternity in our hearts” yet we are finite beings who cannot fully understand the ways of God.
By the end of the book, this wisest of men makes it clear: human wisdom itself cannot resolve the mysteries of life. What then? In the final chapter, The Preacher delivers a stunning conclusion that provides guidance, joy and meaning to the very end of our days.
*For deeper reflection, listen to Ecclesiastes 1 today.