Summary: An overview of Ecclesiastes
Ecclesiastes: Purpose in Life
“I will worship you until the very end” - we sing those words, but sometimes we forget why we sing them. We have been reminded today of what Jesus did for us on the cross, taking our very sin upon himself, and it causes us to be grateful. But even when we know we no longer face the penalty of our sins, sometimes we are led astray in our thinking of what this life is all about.
Jesus’ prayer for his disciples is that though they are IN the world that they would not be OF the world. It is often easy to be influenced by the thinking of the world. I John tells us, For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world. We had the chance to go on vacation last week, and whenever you’re on vacation, you see people who have so many more “toys” than you do. We were in Traverse City at a house on a small lake - and on the lake are 2 million dollar homes, big motor boats, and all sorts of “toys” - $3000 water trampolines - and it is easy to think that life is all about toys.
Capitalism tells us- He who dies with the most toys, wins. But we know that’s not true. There are all types of other ideas out there. And you can describe them as to how they relate to toys.
Atheism - There is no toy maker.
Polytheism - There are many toymakers.
Evolutionism - The toys made themselves.
Agnosticism - It is not possible to know whether toys make a bit of difference.
B’Hai - All toys are just fine with us.
Hedonism - Forget the rulebook! Let’s play!
Hinduism - He who plays with bags of plastic farm animals, loses.
Voodoo - Let me borrow that doll for a second.
Jehovah’s Witness - He who sells the most toys door-to-door, wins.
Existentialism - Toys are a figment of your imagination.
Confucianism - Once a toy is dipped in the water, it is no longer dry.
Catholicism - He who denies himself the most toys, wins.
Anglican - They were our toys first.
Greek Orthodox - No, they were OURS first.
Amish - Toys with batteries are surely a sin.
Church of Christ - He whose toys make music, loses.
7th Day Adventist - He who plays with his toys on Saturday, loses.
Pentecostalism - He whose toys can talk, wins.
Baptist - Once played, always played.
Non-denominationalism - We don’t care where the toys are from, let’s just play with them.
But the ultimate reality is found in the statement that “He who dies with the most toys, still dies.” And when it comes right down to it, we spend much of our lives on things that really don’t matter much at all. Forget all the toys - all the trinkets and baubles of this world, because they don’t matter in light of eternity.
We’ve been going through the OT together, and we’ve been looking at the books of wisdom - Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Solomon, and Ecclesiastes. Today we want to look at Ecclesiastes and learn from the wisdom it gives us. Turn with me to Ecclesiastes 1.
Many people struggle in finding meaning in life. Many of our celebreties turn to alcohol, drugs, and suicide, because they know that what they have doesn’t satisfy, but they haven’t found a meaning for life. Solomon, the son of King David, shares with us in this short book his search for meaning in life, and the conclusions he found. Here is the smartest man sharing his wisdom with us. We need to pay attention.
Read 1:1-14 - The words of the Teacher, son of David, king of Jerusalem: "Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless." What does man gain from all his labour at which he toils under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains for ever. The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again. All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, "Look! This is something new"? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time. There is no remembrance of men of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow. I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven. What a heavy burden God has laid on men! I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.