Oct 26, 2021
We’re continuing our teaching series in the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes, where Solomon the King is reflecting on life—both life in general and his life in particular.
Today we’ve come to Ecclesiastes, Chapter 5—which, in my opinion, might have been the hardest part of Ecclesiastes for Solomon to write. Why? Because this passage talks about enjoying and practicing the presence of God . . . and Solomon blew it . . . he missed it.
When we talk about the “presence” of God, we can talk of either (1) God’s omni-presence or (2) God’s manifest presence. God’s omni-presence means that God is and/or can be anywhere and everywhere.
When we talk about God’s manifest presence, we’re talking about God’s personal presence in a particular time and place.
1) Embracing God’s Presence Personally
The first thing I want you to notice is Solomon’s reference in verse 1 to “the house of God.” Solomon was referring, of course, specifically to the Temple that he built in Jerusalem when he was king. But what we need to see is that Solomon’s Temple was just one point on a line about God’s presence with his people that stretches from Genesis to Revelation.
In Genesis we see that God created Garden of Eden, where He and His creation could enjoy each other’s company, unhindered by sin. Later, after the fall, we see God instructing His people to build The Tabernacle - in which God’s presence would dwell. In the time of Solomon, after God’s people had settled in Jerusalem, God instructed him to build a physical building called “the Temple,” which would serve the same purpose as the Tabernacle but would be fixed in place and more elaborate.
Now we see a massive point on that line stretching from Genesis to Revelation—God’s presence has come and is available personally to anyone through Jesus Christ.
And because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, even the concept of “the house of God” became much different. Sometimes we even talk today about “God’s house” or “the house of the Lord.”
But wait—there’s more! In the book of Revelation, we see the New Heavens and the New Earth—and the fascinating thing is that the heavenly city—the New Jerusalem—is shaped like a cube.
The point is that although the perfect vision of Eden was wrecked by sin, God desired to dwell among his people. He projected that desire through the Tabernacle and the Temple, He brought it to fulfillment in Jesus, and He is preparing for its eternal reality in heaven.
2) Embracing God’s Presence Deliberately
Yes, Solomon spoke about “the house of God” as a specific place. But we as Jesus followers know that we don’t have to go to a specific place to embrace the personal, manifest presence of the Lord—the personal presence of the Lord is within us.
But we see some timeless principles for embracing God’s presence in the verses that we are focusing on today, that is, two deliberate things that Solomon said about embracing God’s presence.
When Solomon said, “Guard your steps,” he was basically saying, “Carefully approach the presence of God, you don’t carelessly waltz into God’s presence.” This was not just a metaphorical warning—it was a literal warning.
When it comes to the manifest presence of God in our own lives, may I say that you simply don’t take it for granted? You don’t just carelessly commune with God. You “guard your steps.” You take your time.
How do we understand this emphasis on deliberately embracing the presence of God? We understand it because Solomon emphasized silence before God.
Think about what silence before the Lord does:
Minimizes noise. Causes cares to settle. Makes hearts sensitive to what God wants to say.
I’m absolutely convinced that the future of our church hinges on our hunger for the presence of God—personally and deliberately pressing in for more of God.
Psalm 105:3-4 – “Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice! Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!”