10 (October 2014)

What do you expect?

What do you expect?
Michael Bentley Michael, aged 76, is a retired Baptist minister, chairman of the Bracknell Forest Society and author of 16 books.
30 September, 2014 2 min read
What do you expect?

Melvin Tinker
EP Books
200, £9.99
ISBN: 978-1-78397-006-3
Star Rating: 4

Although I have been preaching for almost 60 years, I confess I have never preached a series on Ecclesiastes. Perhaps others have also neglected this book.

However, Ecclesiastes belongs with the other 65 books of the Bible, and ‘all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness’ (2 Timothy 3:16).

Tinker does an excellent job in helping us understand the way wisdom literature works: ‘It is not a way of following a formal argument; it is an invitation to see through the eyes of another, to adopt a different angle of vision which enables new perspectives to be gained’ (p.17).

The author assists us to see that, in fact, not everything is ‘Meaningless! Meaningless! … Utterly meaningless!’ (Ecclesiastes 1:2-3). Although this word is used 38 times, the teacher reminds us that ‘it is possible for human beings to know the goodness and joy of existence’ (p.20).

Especially helpful is chapter one, ‘Bubbles and smoke’ (Ecclesiastes 1:1-11), where Tinker explains various terms, including ‘the Teacher’, ‘wisdom’, ‘meaningless’ and ‘gain’. I like his way of expressing our frustration after citing Ecclesiastes 2:15, ‘What then do I gain from being wise?’ He writes, ‘[The Teacher] really does seem to know how to put the mockers on things!’ (p.16).

The Teacher describes ‘a world on the run from God’, yet one where people must ‘remember [their] Creator. This is that same God who has placed ‘eternity in our hearts’ (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Life throws up many problems in childhood, middle age (chapter 7, Ecclesiastes 10:1-11:8, is called ‘Getting through life’) and old age.

Space will not allow me to say more, but every page is full of contemporary illustrations. I found chapter 8, ‘Age concern’ (Ecclesiastes 11:7-12:14), of great relevance to me.

Evangelical Press is to be congratulated for producing this helpful book. I thoroughly recommend it to all, especially those who find this life meaningless. It will lead you through the quagmire and bring you to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Michael Bentley

Michael, aged 76, is a retired Baptist minister, chairman of the Bracknell Forest Society and author of 16 books.
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