Please turn to the book of Qohelet, chapter one, beginning in verse one. Oh, that's right, you know Qohelet as Ecclesiastes, a wisdom book of the Old Testament. The Hebrew name for this book is Qohelet and the Greek translation of this Hebrew word is Ecclesiastes.
Twice the author of Qohelet calls himself qoheleth, 1:12 and 7:27. English versions of 12:8-10 use the word twice to refer to the preacher. This Hebrew word does not appear any where else in Hebrew writings. This term does come from a stem of a verb which means, "to assemble."
Hebrew scholars seem to be divided over how the verb is used with a masculine ending and its significance. They do agree that our word probably referred to some type of "office." The idea that seems to come from this agreement is "one who collects" or "one who calls an assembly together" or even "one who speaks to an assembly."
The Hebrew word for assembly is qahal and is translated by the LXX (Greek Translation of the Hebrew Old Testament) as ekklesia. This probably influenced the LXX translation of qohelet by the Greek word ekklesiastes, which we get our present day Latin and English names.
Lest, you write this book and Solomon off, remember this writing is set in the literary genre of Jewish wisdom literature. Qoheleth is a God-fearer, likened unto our term "believer" so the idea that all things consist of temporary and profitless effort is the very dynamic of his writing. He has discovered and considered that nihilism, (the belief that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated); hedonism (a school of thought which argues that pleasure is the only intrinsic good), and even determinism (the idea that every event is necessitated by antecedent events and conditions together with the laws of nature) is appealing to the human mind, one must regard the ultimate value of such temporary pursuits with the pursuit of the eternal. In other words, our preacher is saying that we cannot confuse the temporary with the eternal, the physical with the spiritual, or what is of true value with that of merely temporary value.
We can eat, work, sleep, drink, and enjoy this life and the things in it as long as we do so in light of the reality of eternity. We will not take one thing we have built, bought, or bundled (accumulated) in this life into eternity with us. The square foot of our home, the number of cars, the possessions, bank accounts, vacation homes, toys and trinkets will all be destroyed and forgotten.
We are non-citizens in this world to be living under combat conditions as we are engaged in spiritual warfare as we wait on the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. Whoever invented, "Whoever dies with the most toys wins" is the 'Biggest Loser.'" Ken Holloway on his Ken Holloway and The Best of Ken Holloway CD's sings a song called Trailer Hitch - "if you have in your heart to be rich, you'll never find a hearse - with a trailer hitch."
God rules over all and will one day bring every act, attitude, and word into judgement. Qoheleth teaches us that this life is worth living even in the worst or darkest of times. We can use and enjoy what God has created. We must consider however, God, His rule, His coming judgement, and the reality of eternity and not live as if this life is all that there is.
"The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep His commandments,
for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment,
with every secret thing whether good or evil." (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, ESV)
2010 A-Z Challenge: Q is for Quelle
2011 A-Z Challenge: Q is for Qoheleth