A Bath, Not a Meal

Jeff Munroe

Read: Ecclesiastes 10

A little folly outweighs wisdom and honor. (v. 1)

As Qoheleth switches again from prose to poetry to write a series of proverbs, I can sense that a certain question has been welling up inside of you as we’ve wound our way through the book of Ecclesiastes these past couple of weeks. You want to know, “What does any of this have to do with Jesus?” That’s a great question, and if I guessed right, I’m glad you’re asking it.

I love the insight of Eugene Peterson about Ecclesiastes in Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work. He says the book “functions not as a meal but as a bath” (p. 155). It doesn’t nourish; it cleanses. In this way, Qoheleth makes the way clear for Jesus. “Ecclesiastes is a John the Baptist kind of book,” says Peterson, doing the work the prophet Isaiah foretold, preparing the way for the Lord, making straight in the desert a highway (Isa. 40:3). Qoheleth doesn’t say what to do as much as he says what to avoid. I find that helpful. Maybe you do, too.

Martin Luther liked Ecclesiastes so much he commended reading it every day. Luther and his companions in the Reformation understood the vanity of everything that was added to God’s plain gospel. Like Qoheleth, the Reformers sought to strip away layers of “religion” and get to the gospel. In this way, Ecclesiastes points beyond empty words and tiresome clichés to the resurrected Jesus, the living God for us and our salvation. —Jeff Munroe

Prayer: Lord, help us daily clear the way for you to rule in our hearts, lives, and world.