Step 1: Opening and Introduction to the lesson – Personal Testimonies from last week’s study and Reflection: Which childhood pet do you miss most? Is your dead pet in the ground or in animal heaven? Why do you think so? When in life were you most in need of a friend? Did one come? Which of your neighbor’s possessions do you most covet?
Step 2: Hear – Read: Judgement, Oppression, Toil. Ecclesiastes 3:16-4:6.
Step 3: Explore – Discover the Passage
- How does the theme of verses 16-17, relate to the earlier sections of Chapter 3? How are humans like, and unlike, animals. How does the wickedness in verse 16 relate to this comparison with animals?
- What does this passage teach concerning the destiny of humans? Or the destiny of animals?
- Is it possible to deny the existence of evil in the world? Who are the oppressed in verse 1? Who are the oppressors? Why does the teacher say that the dead are happier than the living? In what circumstances might death be better than life? Why?
- What does the teacher say is the primary motivation for mankind (v. 4)? What is the meaning of each of the proverbs in verses 5-6? What do they imply is the Teacher’s view of labor and competition?
Step 4: Connect – Apply the Passage:
- How do you respond to those who act as if there is no God or final judgment?
- How does the promise of eternal life (John 5:24) help you deal with injustice?
- Do you see yourself more often in the role of the oppressed or the oppressor? How so?
- How much does someone’s wealth or status affect the way you treat him or her? Do you presently have one handful or two (v. 6)?
Step 5: Reflect: I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from man’s envy of his neighbor.