Category Archives: Resurrection

Ecclesiastes 8:2-9:6 – Where is our hope?

Discussion question:

What powers do you have in this world?

Read Ecclesiastes 8:2-9:6


Ecclesiastes 1-4 investigated the scope of life under the sun. Chapters 5-11 explore the details of these claims. We saw that there are advantages to being wise but it is hard for people to live wisely. Sin is always around to pull us away from wisdom. But knowing the end of things, our mortality and the fear of God is our benchmark for wisdom.



  • 8:2-6 You are not the king
  • 8:7-13 You are not God
  • 8:14-17 Live with humility
  • 9:1-6 Without hope?

8:2-6 You are not the king

“Obey the king’s command, I say…” The Teacher speaks to Israel who have a king. It is ironic that the king of Israel is instructing Israel, the assembly, to obey the king of Israel. But the reason for obedience is not conditional on the quality of the king but on the quality of the promise…

“…because you took an oath before God.” This is the structure of leadership and governance in Israel. Likewise, we shall listen to this wisdom in our own setting. The scriptures allow for a variety of government shapes like kingdoms or democracy but it does not support anarchy.

“Do not be in a hurry to leave the king’s presence.” There could be a daily reverence implied here but the context of Verses 1-6 is about mutiny. Be slow to react and be careful how you proceed. You may be wiser than the king but he is the king (or she the queen).

“…a king’s word is supreme, who can say to him, “What are you doing?” There is always One who is supreme over any earthly king. The King of kings can say, ‘what are you doing?’ See Luke 23:1-12.

“…there is a proper time and procedure for every matter.” Everything can be done in decency and in order with patience and honour. See Romans 13:1-7.

Conclusion: you are not the king, but there is a King who’s word IS supreme – even the kings will need to answer to Him.

8:7-13 You are not God

“Since no one knows the future, who can tell…” The Teacher reveals the limits of his understanding here. He cannot know the future and doesn’t know anyone who can. And yet, God has been sending prophets to Israel since before Moses. Noah most famously was aware of the imminent flood and built the boat and told all what was to come. Daniel was given visions of the future. Isaiah and the other prophets spoke of the day of the Lord. The Teacher wants to highlight the prison of time that is upon us – that we are NOT all knowing and foreseeing creatures – but God is and he has made known the future to us – a future which centres around the Messiah and judgment.

“As no one has power over the wind to contain it so no one has power over the time of their death.” This is a proverb of comparison. Just like you can’t hold wind in your hands, you can’t hold onto the day of your death like it’s under your control. It’s beautiful to know that Jesus sits outside of both of these constraints. He calmed the storm (Mark 4:35-41) and he laid down his own life only to take it up again (John 10:18).

“As no one is discharged in time of war….” The final proverb in Verse 8 compares a soldier compelled to fight with a sinner compelled to sin. Once again, the Teacher does not teach us that one day the Messiah will release us from the captivity of sin (Romans 6:17-23).

“All this I saw…a man lords it over others…” Verses 9-10 cover two situations: a person with power who lords it over others but their end will not go well for them – they will die and presumably face the music. Then there are those who parade around like they are lovely but the Teacher implies they are really wicked and they will go to the grave too. The power and the praise do not get humans anywhere with God.

“When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out…it will not go well with them…” Verses 11-13 describe injustice on this earth. When a crime is not punished quickly, it fuels reason for others to also be lawless. Where is the swift and sure justice? A criminal may do well on this earth but beware the judgment to follow. It will be better for those who fear God and are reverent before him.

Conclusion: We are limited in knowledge, power over death and sin. The wicked may look to be winning but none of us are in God’s position. We are not God.

8:14-17 Live with humility

“…the righteous who get what the wicked deserve…” Life ‘under the sun’ seems unjust. Why is it like this? Is God not watching? The conclusion is not to be wicked but to be careful…

“…then joy will accompany them…” With all that has been said before, our lot is to submit to rulers and to honour God and to enjoy the limits of this life as best we can. Live with humility. This level of joy is incomplete though – how can we enjoy the injustice of this world? We need more than what the Teacher is offering!

“…then I saw all that God has done.” Verses 16-17 salute the difference between mankind and God. We are not God! We are limited but look at all that God has done! We may try to understand and claim to know but we cannot comprehend it. We need God to help us see the future, to find joy that comes with understanding and hope. “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9.

Conclusion: we admit our limits of understanding but look to God to show us the way!

9:1-6 Without hope?

“All share a common destiny—the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad…” The Teacher is giving no credit to the promises of God. There is a prosperity gospel that the Teacher is disproving here. If honouring God comes with blessings and not cursings, then where are those blessings (See Deuteronomy 28-29)? What’s the difference whether you sacrifice or not? What difference does it make if you are good or bad, righteous or wicked? ‘Under the sun’, all we can say is that the wicked may gain wealth and then die – the righteous (God fearing) may live poorly and then die. What gives?

“…afraid to take [oaths]” This is a fun description of people who don’t trust God. They are not brave enough to make a promise and keep it. The ‘good’ will take oaths and work to keep them whether it hurts or not – the sinful will be too afraid to take them in case it backfires and doesn’t work out for them. There is a lack of faith to honour God.

“The hearts of people, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts…” This is a true thing. There is nobody righteous, not even one, says Romans 3:10 (citing Psalm 14 and 53).

“Anyone who is among the living has hope…” Taken out of context, this sounds right, but the words that follow limit this hope. The only hope described here is the hope of today but not tomorrow. This is not Christian hope.

“…the dead know nothing…their name is forgotten…long since vanished…never again will they have a part in anything…” This is not hope – it is hopelessness. The Teacher has told us that if you are alive, then good but when you’re dead, you’re dead. Does this mean that there is no teaching of the resurrection in the Old Testament? No, it means that the Teacher is not teaching it. “The LORD brings to death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up.” (1 Samuel 2:6) This could be read as a metaphore for prosperity but the New Testament takes that ambiguity and puts the final nail in the coffin! The dead do rise and there is great hope for those who trust in God! BUT, this is not universal and many will miss God’s grace and their names will not be included in the book of life.

Suggested questions for running this study.

Q1. What is the Teacher’s wisdom about kings in Verses 2-6? How does the New Testament reflect this? See Romans 13:1-7 or Titus 3:1 or 1 Peter 2:13-14. (warning, this could amount to a complete study if some see controversy).

Q2. What are the limitations on humans described in Verses 7 and 8? Do we know of any escape from these ‘prisons’?

Q3. What is the Teacher’s advice in Verses 14-17? Is it sound advice? How is his advice any different to the wisdom of this world?

Q4. What is the best that the Teacher can hope for according to 9:1-6? Notice the destiny he describes. What type of hope does he teach? Do we have the same hope?

Q5.  Read 1 Corinthians 2:6-10 to critique the Teacher (and ruler of this age).


We ought to take stock of our position in the universe. We will be subject to rulers, whether they be wise or foolish. But even the kings of this world need to concede that there is a King over them who can hold onto the wind, and directs the future and has laid down his life in order to set the captive free! We have hope that goes beyond the schemes of this world. The Lord is King and He’s going to take care of everything!


Challenge#1 Trusting God by honouring the government

Christians across the ages have lived under governments who are selfish and short-sighted and foolish. The LORD himself demonstrated great restraint and humility as he stood before Pilate and Herod. Honouring governments is not conditional on whether they are righteous or not. We live for the Kingdom of God first (Matthew 6:32) but we live under the authority of earthly powers. Our challenge is to proceed with wisdom in this world, unafraid because we have confidence in the sovereignty of God. You might read Romans 13:1-7; Titus 3:1; 1 Peter 2:13-14. This world is passing by. The justice of this world falls short of what we long for under God. But that doesn’t make our governments unworthy of respect and inconsequential.

Challenge#2 Know the King

Along this study we have read of the limitations we are under and the limited vision of the Teacher. But we have reflected on how amazing God is and how Jesus is the ultimate king. He teaches us about the future which includes us in it. He warns us of the danger of falling away and despairing. He has gone to prepare a room for us and he has freed us from the tyranny of sin. Knowing Jesus fills our life with meaning!

Challenge#3 The future for haters

Verses 5 and 6 describe a bleak future for those who do not know or trust God. Their future is not oblivion but the second death. This is no prize. Life under the sun as we know it enjoys the general mercy and grace of God upon all humans regardless of how they treat him. But beyond this life comes a judgment and the unrighteous will not receive peace with God. The only hope is for people to meet Jesus. ‘Good’ people will go to the grave. But only those who have loved and honoured King Jesus will be saved. That is sobering. The first thing to do about this is to pray for those who we suspect have not met Jesus yet.

Mark 5:21-43 – If only we could touch his clothes

Discussion question:

Have you ever touched or held something that is rare and precious?

Read Mark 5:21-43


Jesus has become known as a healer. He can heal many with ease. Great crowds are drawn to Jesus mainly due to his healing ability. He healed a man with an impure spirit in a synagogue on the Sabbath (Mk 1:21-29). He healed a man’s shrivelled up hand in a synagogue. He was accused by some teachers of the law from Jerusalem that he drove out demons with the power of a demon. The impression he is leaving with the leaders of Judaism is not a good one. The opening statement of Mark, however, tells us that this book is about the Good News and Jesus’ first words were “the kingdom has come near.” These things will help draw out some points in this passage.

A synagogue is a place of worship not to be confused for the temple which is where the sacrifices are made.



  • A desperate father/a Synagogue leader came to Jesus (21-24a)
  • A desperate woman/an unclean woman came to Jesus (24b-29)
  • A desperate healer/Jesus draws the woman out (30-34)
  • A disinterested house/Jesus ignores the apathy (35-40a)
  • A deliberate healing/Jesus changes everything (40b-43)

A desperate father (21-24a)

“…a large crowd gathered around him…” Try and imagine the scene as you read the story. This piece of information will be repeated as we move to the next part of the story. 

“…synagogue leader…named Jairus, came…” What we know of Jairus is here in this story. He was a Jewish leader of a local synagogue, which is a place of worship and teaching. One interesting thing we know, however, is that he is named. Not a mystery person but a recognised man in the community. Any fake account written about Jesus could be easily laughed at if inventing a fake person of credibility or lying about them. 

“My little daughter is dying…” He was a father. Many Jewish leaders had problems with Jesus. It is possible that Jesus had been at the synagogue of Jairus and performed a healing miracle. Jairus is desperate for his daughter to be healed.

“Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” Being healed at the touch of Jesus is a key message through this section. The healing of Jairus’ daughter begins here and is interrupted by the story of a woman who just wants to touch Jesus’ clothes to be healed. The point is not the magical touch, but the faith that it is Jesus who can heal. These people clearly have their faith in God, but they are displaying their confidence in the God become flesh.

“So Jesus went with him.” Earlier Jesus had declared that he had come to preach, not to heal. Here he chooses to heal because of his compassion on this situation. This is the first account in Mark describing Jesus’ power over death.

A desperate woman (24b-29)

“A large crowd followed and pressed around him.” Again, imagine the scene. The knowledge that people are pressing around him is important for what happens while on the way to Jairus’ house.

“…a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years…instead of getting better she grew worse.” This account is written about in Luke 8:41-56 also. Luke reports her condition with gentle language. Mark explains how hard she has tried to be healed. Menstrual bleeding, in Jewish law, makes a person unclean for seven days and anyone who touches her becomes unclean (Lev 15:19).  Isaiah 64:6 describes all of us as unclean in our sin with an illusion to women’s uncleanness. Leviticus 15:25-30 describes what happens to a woman whose bleeding never stops. She remains in a state of ceremonial uncleanness. This is our state without being cured by Christ.

“…she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak…” Anybody that she touches is made ceremonially unclean. This means that they are unclean until the evening and must isolate and unable to conduct any type of worship in the Temple. It is a symbol to Israel of sin. The laws are there by God to teach and the point is that God is holy. The woman wanted to be healed but to get to Jesus she had to pass through a thick crowd. She would not want anybody to know what she has done. If only she can touch him in secret, she can be healed and nobody needs to know!

“…she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.” She felt the healing. A freedom she had not known for twelve years. She was released, healed and a new woman.

A desperate healer (30-34)

“At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him.” This raises questions about Jesus and his powers. Can Jesus heal whenever he wants? In Luke 5:17 we’re told that on that occasion, “the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick.” See also Luke 6:9. There has never been or never will be anyone like Jesus and so what can we compare him to? We read in the gospels that Jesus’ healings coincide with the faith of those around him. It seems that it’s neither magical powers that Jesus chooses to yield any time he likes nor is it power in the faith of those being healed, but a combination of the two: Jesus’ willingness to heal when he is approached in faith. In Mark 6:4-6 we read how he could not do any miracles except for a few because of their lack of faith.

“Who touched my clothes?” We begin to speculate about what Jesus did and did not know. He doesn’t know everything (Mk 13:32) and he interacts with this world like a human: growing from childhood, needing to eat and sleep, and he is not everywhere at once knowing all things. On top of that, it seems that he wanted to bring this woman’s secret out into the open. And not everyone in the crowd around him was getting a healing when they pressed against him. This woman had come to Jesus in faith to be healed and Jesus wanted to know what had happened.

“Then the woman…trembling with fear, told him the whole truth.” Jesus had insisted that he know who touched him. She came forward in fear because her condition meant she shouldn’t be touching anyone. She would have feared Jesus’ response but perhaps also the crowd pressing in.

“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” This is what Jesus offers. We are all unclean in our sin (Isaiah 64:6). Faith in Jesus can set us free from that and give us peace with God. 

A disinterested house (35-40a)

“…some people came…’Your daughter is dead’…” The word ‘daughter’ is used to connect the two stories here. One daughter has just been released from suffering, the other is announced dead. The former had a condition which provided a metaphor for the trouble of sin. The latter is the end result of sin.

“Why bother the teacher anymore?” Death is final. Nothing can fix that. Jesus can do many amazing things but death? That’s too big even for a man of God. The people of Jairus’ house had no faith in Jesus.

“Don’t be afraid; just believe.” Again, faith and belief is key to this story. Well, it is key to every bible story, but it is about confidence in Christ and the scope of his help. Belief solves our fear. Jesus was determined to show that he can do this despite the lack of faith from the household. It was Jairus who came to Jesus in faith for help and Jesus will heal his daughter. 

“The child is not dead but asleep.” Jesus knew that the child would wake up and the best description for her condition then is sleep. Those who die in Christ will be raised with Christ. Death is not the end but we do need to make peace with Christ before it is too late.

But they laughed at him.” It’s an odd reaction I think. I can imagine that being angry with him when one is mourning would fit the mood better. How dare someone make light of a mournful event. Or could it be that the weeping and wailing was not all genuine? Whatever, their faith was clearly not there since their reaction to Jesus was clearly unbelief.

A deliberate healing (40b-43)

“He took her by the hand…” This was no accidental healing. He reached out and touched the child. Another daughter about to be healed.

“Talitha koum…” Jesus spoke his and her native Aramaic language. It is a tender phrase, as Mark translates it for us. Little girl, I say to you, get up! Imagine that! He speaks to a deceased child like a little lamb and says get up!

“Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around…” She is 100% alive and healthy straight away. Imagine the faces of the mourners who will see the little girl walk out of the room to greet them. She might think that they are all here for a party!

“He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this…”’ Of course, Peter, James and John saw it and could tell the world later.

Suggested questions for running this study.

Q1. Describe the scene of Verses 21-24 in your own words – perhaps draw it.

Q2. What do we know about Jarius from Verses 22-23? 

Q3. What do we know about the woman in Verses 25-28? Look up Leviticus 15:25-30 to help understand her.

Q4. Compare Verses 23, 28, 30-31 and 41. What do they share in common? What does this do for the story? What do we know about Jesus that makes this so incredible (hint: incarnation)?

Q5. Apart from touching Jesus, what else do the woman and Jairus have which the mourners and the people from the house do not have (see Verse 35)? 

Q6. What does this passage teach us about Jesus?

Q7. What does this passage teach us about sin and death and fear? Read Isaiah 64:1-9 and consider how God has come down and made us clean from our sin.


Many had gathered around Jesus but it was the faith of one woman who touched the clothes of Jesus that made him turn around. Jairus knew Jesus was his only hope to save his daughter. Many outside the girl’s room mocked Jesus and they were not allowed in to see the girl’s life restored. This story is about faith but not general faith. Direct trust in Jesus to be saved. Where all other avenues are hopeless, Jesus saves. While our sins are as red as scarlet, Jesus makes us white as snow. While we are powerless over sin and death, Jesus is able to tenderly say, get up! There is nowhere else for us to go. And the good news is that God has come to us, in the flesh, to take away the sin of the world.


Challenge#1 Jesus strong and kind

Jesus’ divinity and his humanity are both seen in this story. He did not know who had touched him and yet he is able to declare that your faith has healed you. Jesus is the eternal God who has come to us in the flesh. In Christ we see the power of God and the kindness of God. This helps us in our prayers. When we pray, we speak to the One who can do more than we ask and we know that he cares for us more than we know. Come to God in prayer as a child who needs healing.

Challenge#2 Your faith has healed you

It’s not the size of your faith but the direction of it. Jesus is the key to all of these stories. The combination of who Jesus is and what we do with him makes the difference. It’s not that Jesus is only powerful when we give him our faith, but that belief and trust is what Jesus wants from us. It is also what we need more than physical healing! The little girl lived but she would die again one day. Healing from Jesus is greatest when it is our sin and death that is cured. The resurrection and justification are the things we desperately need from Jesus.

Challenge#3 Our ignorance of the problem of sin and death

The woman’s problem was not only medical but it was spiritual. She was an outcast because of her condition. The law did not give her freedom. As Isaiah 64 teaches, we are all outcasts from God because of sin. But the presence of God is what we cannot have and what we desperately need. Jesus is God come to us. Somehow we need to harness the desperation of Jairus and the unclean woman in order to overcome our attitude like the people who said, ‘don’t bother.’ Our apathy must be repaired with our awareness of sin and the problem of death. Jesus comes to us to say, don’t be afraid, just believe.


As we come to the end of the series on the Book of Revelation it is helpful to recall the historical perspective that lies behind this wonderful book. This is summed up by Paul Barnett in his commentary Revelation: Apocalypse Now and Then at page 153:

Revelation leaves us in no doubt: the great end-time battle of God does not lie in the future but in the past. By his death and resurrection Christ has conquered the twin evils of guilt and death. As a consequence, God’s kingdom is now, a present reality. These are perhaps the most important keys to the mysteries of this book.

As for the evils that the original Christians (and Christians ever since) were facing, Barnett reminds us:

The book repeatedly portrays God as not the source of evil. In his mercy he limits the extent of satanic destruction to provide rebellious humanity with the opportunity to repent of the worship of demons and idols, and their breaking of his commandments (9:2). In the face of this evil, Christians are continually called on to display patience and faithfulness to Jesus. And it is by endurance and faith that believers share in the completed conquest of the Lamb who was slain.

So what is there left for us before we become fully glorified in the presence of the Lord as depicted under the imagery of the new Jerusalem and the bride adorned for her husband?

The answer of course is the second coming of Jesus to bring this age to a close and to bring about the fulfillment of his ultimate plan for his people.

That is what chapter 22:6 is all about.

QUESTION ONE: Rev. 22:7 quotes Jesus as saying, ‘Behold, I am coming soon’. Given that 2,000 years have passed, how would you explain the meaning of the word ‘soon’?

QUESTION TWO: From your knowledge of the New Testament, what do you know about its teaching about the return of Jesus?

QUESTION THREE: How are we meant to prepare for his coming?

QUESTION FOUR: The book of the Revelation ends with a prayer, ‘… Amen, come Lord Jesus.’ It is rare for such a prayer to be heard in worship services today and it is probably rare for it to be uttered in the private prayers of most believers. Why is this so and how can we change our thinking to follow the example of this verse in beseeching Jesus to come quickly?