The Secret of Real Joy

An exposition of Ecclesiastes 8:1-17. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, September 19, 2010.

Do you find balance difficult?  I don’t mean physical balance.  I’m not talking about if you have some inner ear problem that throws your equilibrium off or some other malady that affects your motor skills, I mean a balanced perspective.  I’m talking about the way you view the world or the way you interpret data.  It seems to me that balance is lacking most everywhere.  One news channel claims to be “fair and balanced” which is good marketing.  It certainly sounds better than “mostly fair and hardly ever unbalanced!”  Yet it seems to me we mostly choose up sides and take pot shots at each other.  In terms of our faith we are more interested in winning arguments than we are in seeking truth.  It even affects the way we understand and define our doctrine.  For instance, to say I believe in the doctrine of Divine Sovereignty is not to say my favorite song is “Que Sera, Sera.  Whatever Will Be, Will Be.”  Such a frivolous attitude is no substitute for the biblical doctrine.  To believe in God’s sovereignty is to believe that God rules over all things.  It means that I see the hand of God in everything.  That doesn’t mean I like everything that goes on.  It doesn’t mean that I happily embrace every experience but rather that I have confidence that the will of God is going to be accomplished on the earth.  Such a belief does not require me to ignore or deny what is happening around me.  I do not wear blinders, nor do I wear rose-colored glasses.  A biblical faith demands that I honestly assess the world around me in the light of Word of God.  That balance is crucial for understanding the message of the Preacher in the book of Ecclesiastes.

Qoheleth, the preacher, is taking an honest look at his life.  He is taking stock of what he has experienced and what that experience has taught him but he is doing so – not from his own, limited understanding – but in light of what God has revealed.  Careful observation and biblical revelation bring him to this understanding.  His understanding is life under the sun (that is life apart from God) is an ugly business.  It is a vain, empty pursuit.  It is existence it is not living.  So this book is about joy and where you can find it.  It is about God giving us good things and the ability to enjoy them.  Our text this morning is found in the 8th chapter of Ecclesiastes.

Text: Ecclesiastes 8:1-17

The Preacher deals with some difficult subjects in our text.

  • He deals with the power of unjust rulers.
  • He deals with rampant injustice as the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer.
  • He deals with our inability to comprehend or make sense of it all.
  • He is not singing, “Que Sera, Sera.”
  • He’s not jumping off a bridge either.
  • He is facing reality in confidence and faith.

As we make our way through this chapter we are reminded that…

Joy demands an honest assessment of life as we know it and an unshakable confidence in God’s good and sovereign rule.

There are three things I want to point out in our text.

  1. The joyful seek to use discretion when responding to injustice and recognize the limits of governmental authority.  (8:1-9)
  2. The joyful know that ultimately justice prevails and that unrighteousness faces sure and certain doom.  (8:10-13)
  3. The joyful accept their limitations and leave the end of all things in the hands of a good and sovereign God.  (8:14-17)

We live in a fallen world.  This is not the world God made.  This is the distorted corruption of His good creation.  In this world evil, wicked things happen.  What are we to do?  How are we to know joy?  Joy is God’s gift to His people and…

Joy demands an honest assessment of life as we know it and an unshakable confidence in God’s good and sovereign rule.

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