Summary: Life and its importance and meaning beyond this life.
SERIES: “BE SATISFIED”
“THE SEARCH FOR MEANING”
A certain man had traveled quite a distance to attend the funeral of a relative. The man was utterly exhausted from his drive. During the visitation time, he dozed off in one of the chairs. Several attempts were made to wake him up but because of the level of this man’s exhaustion, nothing seemed to work.
It came time for the visitation period to be over for the evening and non one had yet been able to awaken the poor sleeping man. The other mourners sought for a way to make the man comfortable for the night. The funeral director said that the man could spend the night there in the funeral. Several men pitched in and carried the sleeping man to one of the storage rooms where there was an empty casket and placed him inside.
During the middle of the night, the sleeping man woke up and himself in the casket. He was very confused. If her were alive, why was he inside of a casket? And if he was dead, how come he had to go to the bathroom?
Solomon was a very confused man. He could find no meaning for life! Everything he had tried, he had found to be meaningless. When he looked at his wisdom, his works, and his wealth – everything that he had – he found it to be worthless, empty, and unsatisfactory. Eccl. 1:1-3 – The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem: “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun?
What put Solomon in this position? Remember that when Solomon was made king of Israel, God came to Solomon and told him that he would give him anything he wanted. Solomon asked for wisdom. God granted Solomon wisdom beyond measure but also gave him great riches and fame as well.
As the years went by, Solomon forgot about his first devotion – godly wisdom. Solomon entered into multiple marriages for political reasons and began to be involved in idol worship along with his pagan wives. Solomon began his reign as a humble servant of God, but as he grew older, his heart turned away from the Lord. He tried possessions, pleasures, power, and prestige. Nothing filled the hole in his heart. He had forgotten what he told God was most important in his life.
Solomon writes Ecclesiastes at the end of his life. He is looking back at what he has done and basically says, “I’ve done nothing.” Everything is vain, meaningless, empty. I quoted someone last week who said that this word literally means “whatever is left after you break a soap bubble.”
Solomon tells us you can work as hard as you want but in the end, you really have nothing. You can add up all the money you have, all the title-deeds, all the stocks and bonds, all the times you’ll be mentioned in the paper, all the promotions you’ll get, all the times someone will ask for your autograph, all the ladders you’ll climb.
The important phrase to understanding what Solomon is saying is, “under the sun.” When life is looked at from just an earthly perspective, it makes no sense. There is something beyond this world that makes puts everything in perspective. Solomon says, “If you leave God out of the picture, everything means nothing.”
If you live without God and you die without God, you live and die for nothing.
Leonard Woolf, who was married to author Virginia Woolf was a very successful author in his own right. He made millions of dollars off of his writing. He was on the “A-list” for parties. He was known personally by presidents, kings, and other important people. Yet, just before he died, he said this: “I see clearly that I have achieved practically nothing. The world today and the history of the human anthill during the past five to seven years would be exactly the same if I had played Ping-Pong instead of sitting on committees and writing books
and memoranda. I have therefore to make a rather ignominious confession: that I have in a long life ground
through between 150,000and 200,000 hours of perfectly useless work.” Leonard Woolf, like Solomon, discovered late in life that life lived “under the sun” was futile.
This morning is the second message in our series, “Be Satisfied.” Let’s look together this morning at the rest of Ecclesiastes Chapter One and see what Solomon can teach us about life and the importance of purpose and meaning beyond this life.
THE FUTILITY IN THE CIRCLES OF LIFE
Solomon is struck by the realization that nothing in life under the sun actually changes. In Eccl. 1:4-7 – Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. 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.