Vanity of Earthly Priorities vs Joy of Heavenly Riches
1:2 Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.
12: 8 Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity.
How interesting is it that the writer of the Book starts right out by stating all is vanity and in his last chapter repeats his claim. If this was all he had to say, we would be very miserable people. He would eat, drink and be merry and then die. But as we will see, Solomon comes to a wonderful glorious conclusion that we all can find comfort and hope in. Today we will begin our journey though this often overlooked book and also often misunderstood book. I hope to be able to bring you some clarity as we study this book together. I also pray that the Holy Spirit will use this study to reenergize you as you renew your commitment to fully follow after Christ.
By way of introduction
A. Written by Solomon around 945 BC
B. The name Ecclesiastes is the Greek term Ekklesia meaning called out group assembly. It is where the term church comes from (A called out assemply). Here it indicates to one who speaks to the congregation – The preacher
C. The Hebrew name for the book is Qoheleth (Koeleth) meaning “preacher”
D. This book is Solomon “preaching” to us truth29 times
The key words
A. Vanity – 35 times
B. Under the sun – 29 times
C. Man – 47 times
D. Labor – 36 times
E. Wisdom or wise – 52 times
F. Evil – 22 times
Two things Ecclesiastes will do
- Prod our thinking – get you to think
- Exhort – provide stability and direction
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.7 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil.
The problem – IS LIFE WORTH LIVING
Man is insignificant in the scope of the universe
4 One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.5 The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.6 The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.7 All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.8 All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.9 The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.10 Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.11 There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.
Man can not understand the mind of God
I the Preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith. 14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit. 15 That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered. 16 I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge. 17 And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit. 18 For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.
The material pleasures of life do not satisfy
I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure: and, behold, this also is vanity.2 I said of laughter, It is mad: and of mirth, What doeth it?3 I sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine, yet acquainting mine heart with wisdom; and to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was that good for the sons of men, which they should do under the heaven all the days of their life.4 I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards:5 I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits:6 I made me pools of water, to water therewith the wood that bringeth forth trees:7 I got me servants and maidens, and had servants born in my house; also I had great possessions of great and small cattle above all that were in Jerusalem before me:8 I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces: I gat me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts.9 So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me.10 And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour. 11 Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.
Death happens to all – rich and poor, wise and foolish, one who labors and those who don’t
And I turned myself to behold wisdom, and madness, and folly: for what can the man do that cometh after the king? even that which hath been already done. 13 Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness. 14 The wise man’s eyes are in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness: and I myself perceived also that one event happeneth to them all. 15 Then said I in my heart, As it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me; and why was I then more wise? Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity. 16 For there is no remembrance of the wise more than of the fool for ever; seeing that which now is in the days to come shall all be forgotten. And how dieth the wise man? as the fool. 17 Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me: for all is vanity and vexation of spirit. 18 Yea, I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me. 19 And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? yet shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured, and wherein I have shewed myself wise under the sun. This is also vanity. 20 Therefore I went about to cause my heart to despair of all the labour which I took under the sun. 21 For there is a man whose labour is in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity; yet to a man that hath not laboured therein shall he leave it for his portion. This also is vanity and a great evil. 22 For what hath man of all his labour, and of the vexation of his heart, wherein he hath laboured under the sun? 23 For all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief; yea, his heart taketh not rest in the night. This is also vanity.
- Solomon says enjoy the blessings of God now
- Paul seems to agree