A study and biblical theology of the gospel according to Ecclesiastes
The Preacher in Ecclesiastes reminds us that life under the sun does not happen according to neat and tidy rules. He asks us to see the world around us in all its messiness and explores what that reveals about us, our world, and God. If someone were to say to him, "You shouldn't talk so plainly," he would respond, "But people go through this kind of stuff and we have to talk about it. These things happen, so now what?" The result is a meditation that engages people where they are and draws them to face up to the God who enters their world and redeems it and them.
Zack Eswine (B.SW., Ball State University; M.Div., Covenant Theological Seminary; Ph.D., Regent University) is Lead Pastor of Riverside Church in St. Louis. He formerly served as Assistant Professor of Homiletics and the Director for the Doctor of Ministry program at Covenant Theological Seminary and was a campus minister with the Navigators.
In Recovering Eden, Zack Eswine has provided a pastorally poetic guide to the endlessly "wild and strange wonder called Ecclesiastes." He reliably reminds the reader that a search for life's significance begins with a trustworthy God filling life with meaning throughout life's seasons and ends with this One who makes all things new in Jesus Christ. Be sure to reflect on the weighty questions Zack provides after each chapter. They offer the reader a timely opportunity to respond to Zack's thoughtful observations of an ultimately hopeful text.
In Recovering Eden, Zack Eswine has provided a pastorally poetic guide to the endlessly wild and strange wonder called Ecclesiastes. He reliably reminds the reader that a search for lifes significance begins with a trustworthy God filling life with meaning throughout lifes seasons and ends with this One who makes all things new in Jesus Christ. Be sure to reflect on the weighty questions Zack provides after each chapter. They offer the reader a timely opportunity to respond to Zacks thoughtful observations of an ultimately hopeful text.
While very few of us are professional philosophers who deal with the abstract problems of meaning, all of us are daily dealing with the functional problems of meaning. We all want our lives to count for something. Every one of us craves meaning--it's human to yearn for it. The question is, where are we looking to find it: work, pleasure, our children, our spouse, beauty, sex, our possessions, our position, our reputation, our accomplishments? What are you depending on to make life worth living? What keeps you going? Ecclesiastes won't allow for pat answers to these deeply existential questions--it forces us to look beneath the surface. C.S. Lewis once wrote, "Human history is the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy." This is, in short, the message of Ecclesiastes. The writer of Ecclesiastes is not interested in pious platitudes and theory. He's not some ivory tower pontificator. Rather, hes slugging his way through life on the ground desperately looking for something to make him feel alive, something that will satisfy, something to give him the meaning he longs for. Ecclesiastes is an honest look at life without God. It explores the ways people try to save themselves apart from God and in doing so, it blows our cover -- it removes our fig leaves. It leads us to the Abyss and drives us to despair. It reveals the meaninglessness of life "under the sun" and causes us to cry out "Who will rescue me?" My friend Zack Eswine helps us to see that all of the answers that the writer of Ecclesiastes (and us) seek for under the sun come to us from above the sun, in the person and work of Jesus. Reading Ecclesiastes in the light of Christ's finished work tells us that ultimate meaning is found in God through Christ who defeats death and brings meaning to life. Jesus subjected himself to the curse of a meaningless world in order to free us from it. For those who see no end to their laborious search for meaning and satisfaction Jesus promises rest: Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Apart from Jesus, we are left in despair, crushed by the words "Everything is meaningless." Only in Christ are we freed from the bondage of vanity. Christ has completed our labors, he's secured our meaning, he's rescued us from futility. Thank you Zack for reminding me of this. I keep forgetting.