Summary: In our world we can become distracted by the illusions of wealth, power and prestige. Pursuing such illusions may give us temporary satisfaction, but they do not give us eternal security. We need to stand on the foundation which will not crumble.
Have No Illusions
Matthew 7:24-27 (text)
Congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ, Young people, boys and girls.
You can open any one of a dozen teen magazines available at the moment and the same message will jump out from all of them. A person who has made it in this world wears the latest fashions, has an executive job, goes on overseas holidays and owns their home. Now is the time to grab onto the horns of life with both hands and go for it. Set your goals - make them happen. Aim for a standard of living – seek it with determination. Work hard – you will receive the benefits.
That’s the message isn’t it? But is it reality? Well let’s use Scripture as our point of reference. And we’ll start by having a closer look at the words in Ecclesiastes 2:1-11. These words were written by Solomon – and he is in the process of conducting an experiment. He wants to test every pleasure of life and discover its satisfaction level. If ever there was a person in a position to conduct such an experiment it is Solomon. Solomon has the status and resources to do a most thorough experiment.
The first three verses of Ecclesiastes 2 find Solomon testing the value of laughter and parties – and he knew how to throw a party. Listen to this description from 1 Kings 4:22-23 of the daily supplies used in Solomon’s palace.
“Solomon’s daily provisions were thirty cors of fine flour and sixty cors of meal, ten head of stall-fed cattle, twenty of pasture-fed cattle and a hundred sheep and goats, as well as deer, gazelles, roebucks and choice fowl”.
Someone has estimated that 20 000 people would be needed to consume this much food each day. What laughter and celebration were found in the halls of palace as Solomon and his wives and royal subjects and guests and members of the high society ate, drank and were merry.
But Solomon just didn’t waste his time at parties. Eccl.2:4-9 broadens our knowledge about Solomon. In the evening he socialized During the day he worked hard not wanting to be excluded from the greater things in life. Houses. Parks. Vineyards. Orchards. It took 13 years to build the palace. He also had another house in Lebanon – a kind of holiday house in the forest. He built 6 cities from scratch. And if that wasn’t enough his fortune was so great that silver and gold were regarded as stones in Jerusalem. Solomon owned whatever he looked upon – and he looked everywhere.
If Solomon were alive today he would be in oil and the chairman of a large international company. He would have a villa in Switzerland, a retreat in the Caribbean Islands and a Penthouse in New York. He would be a patron of the arts. His legacy would rival any American President. His buildings would as famous as Buckingham Palace and Vatican City.
Wouldn’t be great to be able to do such an experiment? Not a mindless out of control experiment which saw Solomon drunk and on a high every night. Not an experiment which lead to a loss of dignity and respect – “my mind still guarded me with wisdom” says Solomon. But an experiment seeking to make a serious investigation about the pleasures of life. It’s the stuff dreams are made of. But … but … let’s make sure we hear the whole passage. For, not only does Solomon do the experiment. He also gives us a report.
And, in a way, we would expect that report to be very encouraging – after all Solomon has made some brilliant achievements. The legacy he leaves behind is unmatched. The esteem he receives from his peers is of the highest order. As a king he enjoys the deepest and most loyal respect of his subjects. But how does his report read? Have a look at Ecclesiastes 2:11;
“Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun”..
Everything was meaningless. It didn’t bring contentment. It couldn’t answer the great questions of life.
The satisfaction promised by the pleasures of life were nothing but false claims without substance. Meaningless. Empty. A mist. An illusion. The promises of this would are nothing more then a part of a clever and deceptive strategy which Satan has been marketing for many years. Satan cons us with the illusion that we can get by nicely without God – it’s an “in-your-face” message that is put before us everyday. And that faces us with a challenge doesn’t it. Have we been able to avoid the same illusion? Are we chasing the illusion even though we know it get us nowhere?