Ecclesiastes: The Wisdom of Man
At the end of the book of Ecclesiastes, the writer asks, "What then is the conclusion of everything?" And he answers it thus: "Fear God and keep His commandments." There is nothing wrong with that. But why does he say that we should fear God and keep His commandments? Is it because He is a good God and because we love Him? No. It is because one day “God will bring into judgment for every error, whether it be good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:14).
The religious man does good things out of fear of judgment. That is how every false religion operates. They teach you to be good, in order to avoid judgment and to be rewarded in the next life! False Christianity preaches the same thing. Where the primary motivation for our obeying God is the fear of being judged, there we have a false Christianity. Jesus said, "If you love Me, keep My commandments" (John.14:15).
True spirituality is not motivated by the fear of judgment, but by love. Jesus did not obey the Father because He was afraid that the Father would punish Him, but because He loved the Father. That must be the motivation for our obedience too. But that's not what the writer of Ecclesiastes had. His attitude to life was one of fatalism and indifference. He decided to prepare himself for the worse so that he would never be surprised at anything. He didn't know much about eternity, even though he mentions it once. He was afraid of death and he decided to make the most of this earthly life, with a little bit of "fear of God" thrown in, just to be on the safe side.
Here was a person who sought to discover God through his senses, his intelligence and his reasoning, without the help of the Holy Spirit. Christians who do that will go as much astray from the truth as those who follow other religions. We can know nothing about God without the help of the Holy Spirit, for He alone can reveal to us the deep things of God. "So the things also that are of God no man knoweth, but the Spirit of God." (1 Corinthians 2:11).
The people who crucified Christ were those who studied the Bible every day. They studied about the Messiah. But when He came among them, they called him "the prince of devils"! If the Greeks and Romans had called Jesus by such a name, we can understand it, because they didn't have the Old Testament. It was not even the liberal Sadducees who called Jesus by that name. It was the fundamentalist Pharisees. They were intelligent. But they were not humble. Their head was right, but their heart was not right. That happened 2000 years ago and it can happen today. If we don't live in humble dependence on the Holy Spirit to give us revelation on God's Word, we will go as much astray as Solomon did.
When Peter looked at Jesus and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God," Jesus replied saying, "Blessed are you, Simon, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but My Father in heaven." That means that it was not Peter's human cleverness that enabled him to understand this truth. How could an unlearned person like Peter know who Jesus was, when the Pharisees who studied the Scriptures day and night could not? That is because the truths of God can be known only by the Father through the revelation of the Holy Spirit. That's what Peter had and the Pharisees didn't. So, if you want to understand God's Word correctly, depend on the Holy Spirit.
Solomon tried to find satisfaction through various forms of pleasure, acquiring property, making ponds of water (Ecclesiastes 2:6), having many slaves (Ecclesiastes 2:7), collecting plenty of silver and gold, etc., "And whatsoever my eyes desired, I refused them not" (Ecclesiastes 2:10). At the end of it all he says, "I saw in all things vanity, and vexation of mind, and that nothing was lasting under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 2:11). He then talks about the futility of hard work, "For what profit shall a man have of all his labour, and vexation of spirit, with which he hath been tormented under the sun?" (Ecclesiastes 2:22).
We read something interesting in Chapter 2:26: "God hath given to a man that is good in his sight, wisdom, and knowledge, and joy" This is a true statement. If your heart is clear, God gives you opportunities on earth to accumulate divine wisdom, the knowledge of Himself and the fulness of joy that there is in His presence. But what task does God give a sinner? “He hath given vexation, and superfluous care, to heap up and to gather together, and to give it to him that hath pleased God:” (v.26). In eternity, the meek will inherit the earth. There is no doubt about that.
All of us are either pursuing after wisdom, the knowledge of God and the joy of the Lord, or we are hoarding, collecting and gathering earthly things. There we see the clear contrast between a spiritual person and a worldly person. Religious people are worldly too. They may know their Bibles, but they do not know God. And so they too spend their time pursuing after material things and worldly knowledge that will not help them in eternity.