Experiencing The Vanities Of Life
As we begin these few lesson in the Book of Ecclesiastes we are going to consider that this Book was written by Solomon, the son of King David.
There is good reason to believe that Solomon wrote this book, probably in his old age as he looked back on his life regretting his tragic failures.
Most all of us will reach this point in our life where we regret so many things that we did in our younger days.
The theme of this book seems to be, to convince younger people of the dangers of a worldly lifestyle.
Many wonder at what place in the Bible to begin to teach our young.
I believe that after the Book of Genesis, the Book of Proverbs and the Book of Ecclesiastes are good choices.
BUT this Book of the Bible is also a warning to all readers.
1Co 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
This Book of the Bible is also a treasure on how to live as a Christian.
Rom 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
What Solomon realized before his death, is the same thing that we must also learn during our lifetime.
Ecc 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
We have only one duty as the true children of God and that is to have a personal relationship with our Savior we must obey the Word of God!
The Book of Ecclesiastes teaches us that we have a great need for Jesus Christ!
We finished last week with a lesson on addictions.
People are subject to addictions because people are always searching for something or someone to bring meaning and fulfillment and a lasting satisfaction into their hearts!
The truth is, we can never find the answer in the natural world, satisfaction can only be found in the spiritual world!
So let’s begin:
*****Ecc 1:1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
We have three titles, Preacher, son of David, and King in Jerusalem and it is these three things that lead us to believe that this is Solomon, son of David.
Solomon calls himself “the Preacher” seven times in this book.
This gives us the thought that Solomon had learned from all the mistakes he had made in his life and in his search for satisfaction.
By saying he was the son of David, he links himself to to the most respected King of Israel.
Even today the flag of Israel carries the Star of David.
By saying he was king in Jerusalem, he is saying he was in a position where he could experience anything this world had to offer.
As Christians, we are to show our “New Life” our “Born Again” life and share what God has done for us, as we now walk in the path of Jesus Christ.
*****Ecc 1:2 Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.
“Vanity” describes something that has no real value!
Vain things are those things that seem to be valuable but their value fades quickly and leave behind only emptiness.
Idols, made from man’s hands, are vain things.
Pagan worship is a vain thing.
“Vanity of vanities” means the greatest vanity of all.
Solomon discovered that even with all his riches and all his wisdom, there is absolutely nothing of this world that can bring a lasting satisfaction nor contentment!
Solomon discovered that though he had spent most of his life in search of some form of gratification, all the things he found on this earth were temporary and short lived and soon passed away.
We only have a short lifetime on this earth. We can waste it on the vain things of this world or we can seek the eternal things of God.
We must realize that our lives really do have meaning.
Our lives do have a fulfilling purpose.
We can actually live our lives in satisfaction!
As we read and study this Book of Ecclesiastes we will see that Solomon will lead us to the only place where true meaning in life can be found!
This is the purpose and this is what the entire Word of God does.
All 66 books put together will lead us to the truth and each individual book will lead us to the truth because they all mesh into one truth!
Solomon begins buy asking us to answer one simple question.
*****Ecc 1:3 What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?
The Hebrew word used for the English word “labor” means to work to a point of exhaustion, yet still have no fulfillment in what you have done.
“Under the Sun” means on this Earth. Things on this earth as opposed to things that are eternal.
The truth is, when our conclusions are drawn only from a worldly viewpoint, we will never understand the truth of life!
SO, What’s the truth of a worldly viewpoint?
*****Ecc 1:4 One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.
It is only God who tells us that we are only pilgrims on this Earth.
Heb 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
The world says we live and then we die, while the Earth basically remains the same, the generations of man are ever changing!
Anything that we thought we possessed will certainly be passed to someone else!
What is the truth of God?
1Jn 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
1Jn 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
1Jn 2:17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
And Solomon continues:
*****Ecc 1:5 The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.
While we think we see many changes in our lifetime we should consider, we see the same Sun that Solomon saw and in fact we see the same Sun that Adam saw.
We all know that the Earth is in orbit around the Sun but even modern astronomers and those who forecast the weather, speak of Sunup and Sundown, even so the biblical writers have done the same.
Solomon understood science as much as anyone in his day and maybe as much as anyone today.
What Solomon is saying is, that people simply do not last like the Earth does.
Even the stars are the same stars that that the Lord pointed out to Abraham as an illustration of his descendants to come.
Exo 32:13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever.
People simply do not last like the cycles of the Earth.
We can be certain that the cycles of the Earth will continue until God stops them!
Psa 74:16 The day is thine, the night also is thine: thou hast prepared the light and the sun.
Psa 74:17 Thou hast set all the borders of the earth: thou hast made summer and winter.
Do we need to worry about climate change? God says:
Gen 8:22 While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.
I believe what God says and reject these things of man.
Our climate has constantly changed since it’s beginning and will continue to do so until the Lord completes His work.
*****Ecc 1:6 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.
It has only been in modern times that climate scientist have observed the the world’s great wind circuits in the global circulation and and some of the affects it has on our atmosphere.
This science is still relatively new and no one understands the things that God has put in place.
The wind moves in a continuous circuit across the face of the earth and across our globe as it travels.
Man cannot understand this, so how can man predict climate change?
BUT, Solomon’s point is that people do not last like the wind currents!
People do not last like the wind currents that never cease in their circuits!
Joh 3:8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
Jesus compared these things to being born again into a new life.
*****Ecc 1:7 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.
For many years it was believed that rain waters came only by evaporation of local lakes and streams.
Meteorologist have now proven by extensive upper-air research, that the rains actually come from the evaporation of the oceans.
God new this all along because He caused it to happen!
It took a Master Creator to design the Earth’s hydrological cycle.
But the Life of man is not as lasting as the Sun rises and the Sunsets!
The life of man is not as consistent as the wind in it’s circuits!
The life of man does not last as the endless flow of rivers and the constant evaporation of the seas!
We know that evaporation causes clouds and those clouds are carried by those circuits of the winds and then those clouds drop their moisture upon the earth through rain, through snow, and hail.
The many dry and wet weather creeks carry this water to our river systems which will eventually flow back into the oceans again and this cycle is continuous.
BUT, The life of man is nowhere indeed as consistent as these things!
Jas 4:14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
Life on this earth just wears us all out.
AND, This is not what God intended!
*****Ecc 1:8 All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.
We all know that the things we do just wear us out.
In fact as we have gotten older we simply do not have the strength that we once had.
It is not much fun getting old!
When we are focused on the things of this world, we sometimes do not see the point of all that hard work.
Those that focus on the things of this world will most always be frustrated with life!
We see this more and more everyday and more and more in the youth of today.
Solomon gave some of the reasons.
1) The eye and the ear are never satisfied.
No matter what we see we want to see more.
No matter what we hear we want to hear something new.
These are good things, only when we seek to improve on what we have learned as we mature and grow older.
BUT, No matter how much we experience in this world this world cannot bring a lasting satisfaction.
What is God’s answer?
Mat 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Solomon had more money than he could spend.
Solomon had more wisdom than anyone who came before him and anyone who has come after him, except the Lord Jesus.
Solomon had more power than most all world leaders of today.
AND, Solomon found that sin never satisfies, sin always leads to more sin.
The things of this world can never satisfy the soul!
AND, God says it’s only going to get worse!
2Ti 3:13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.
We all have seen this truth in our own lifetime!
2)*****Ecc 1:9 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.
To most people it is only the new things in life that bring that bring any satisfaction but in the end they find that there is never really anything that is new.
The rich get richer and the poor get poorer!
It is only the people that change!
All things are just repeated from one generation to the next.
Knowledge may increase but life truly becomes only a dull routine!
We rise from sleep, wash, dress, eat, go to work, return home, have some family time, and go to sleep and this repeated over and over again until we die.
There is really nothing new in our world because the creation of new things is beyond man’s ability.
God created things out of nothing.
God spoke and all things were made.
Today man can only take things that God has already made, and reshape it into something they call new, but it was only made from things that God had already made and therefore is not really new at all!
*****Ecc 1:10 Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.
The excitement of things man says he has made last only for a short time.
SORT OF, like a new coat of paint!
This is the experience of all those that who live for this world and not for God!
Humanism teaches, we live and then we die so what happens in between those times have little importance.
That’s the dash in between the numbers on a tombstone!
*****Ecc 1:11 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.
Very few of us make contributions to society that are remembered after we have gone on to be with the Lord!
Most people never become famous!
Even those who do become famous gain nothing in their death!
Alexander Bell invented the telephone but most all those that have a personal phone with them at all times do not even know his name!
The person who focuses on the things of this life, in the end dies the same way they were born, with nothing.
Ecc 3:20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.
When we focus on this world we will always be restless and unsatisfied!
We will feel empty and unfulfilled!
We will feel lacking and incomplete!
The truth is, all human beings were made for God!
SO, The only answer for the restless soul is Jesus Christ!
It is only the Lord Jesus Christ that can bring with Him, God’s eternal peace and the joy of the Lord!
We should realize that Solomon was the wisest man to have ever lived, but even Solomon spent most of his life as a fool.
Mat 6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
Mat 6:20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
Mat 6:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
We can have a heavenly reward only if we invest our lives in the things of God!
We must guard against just allowing our lives to became a dull routine!
If we allow God to mold us and shape us for the work that He has for each of us, we will find that blessings truly come to those who serve the Lord.
The work of the Lord is seen in the changed lives of those who receive the Lord and joy in all those who had a part in that change.
Isa 58:11 And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.
Human achievements always fail to fully satisfy the human heart!
*****Ecc 1:12 I the Preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem.
Even our own president, who leads the greatest nation of this earth, is now striving to be president of the United Nations.
Power has that effect on most all people!
Solomon was king of the greatest nation of his day which was Israel!
BUT, Solomon wasted most of his life in search for fulfillment in this life.
*****Ecc 1:13 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.
As King, he had power.
As King, he had the resources.
As King, Solomon was already the greatest man in his nation!
Solomon had the mightiest army in the world in his day!
Israel had the greatest economy of that day!
The Temple and other structures built by Solomon were the greatest structures of that day!
None of these things brought fulfillment to Solomon, so he began to search in all the evils of this world to find satisfaction.
Solomon was much like a private eye in search of the truth, which he already had but was rejecting at this time!
Solomon realized that the desire to achieve, is actually a gift of God but it is also a burden if we try to bear that burden alone.
This is the burden that Adam brought upon himself when he ate of the forbidden fruit!
Solomon saw labor as punishment inflicted on the human race!
AND, Like Adam, Solomon began to blame God!
We already know that “all things work together for good to them that love God”.
It is true that God cursed the ground and Adam had to labor that produced sweat, where he had not done so before.
BUT, Work itself is not part of the curse, work is a gift from God.
Man was not created to be idle!
Man was also not created for a life time of recreation and leisure!
God created man to produce!
God has given us all certain responsibilities!
JUST AS He had before the curse.
Gen 2:15 And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
In fact, God said our work week could be as much as six days a week where today most people work a 40 hour work week.
Exo 20:9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
Even in the New Testament we are taught to work.
Eph 4:28 Let him that stole steal no more: “but rather let him labour”, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
God did not design a socialist society, God designed a society to prosper on the rewards of hard work!
All socialist and communist nations go against the Word of God!
Throughout the Scriptures God praises and makes a use of the work of His people!
It was not an accident that Jesus Christ was born into a carpenter’s family!
Carpenters are makers and God is the Supreme Maker!
We to are all to be makers!
SO, Solomon began to see his failures.
*****Ecc 1:14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.
This Scripture defines “humanism”.
Again Solomon had the greatest wealth, the greatest wisdom, the greatest power, and he had access to all the greatest pleasures and the greatest comforts this world had to offer.
YET, all these things were worldly, “under the sun”.
Vexation of spirit means “feeding upon air” or “chasing after the wind” which are vain things!
When people try to catch the things of this world, which cannot be caught, or have no real substance, or cannot be held in the hand, they are living in vanity and will have a meaningless life.
Our work can be satisfying and joy can truly be found in honest labor!
Man is made in God’s image and when God looked upon His created work at the beginning, He said all His work was good in fact God said it was “very good”.
God says the work of our hands will fill our mouths and our bellies and provide some comfort but it will never satisfy our soul!
Ecc 6:7 All the labour of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled.
In fact, many today get so caught up in these things that they actually hate life just as Solomon began to do.
Ecc 2:17 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.
True satisfaction in this life can only be found in a personal relationship with God!
*****Ecc 1:15 That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered.
By our own efforts, we will never be able to make this world a better place!
Many things already in place cannot be changed!
Many other things already in place are beyond human control!
SO, No one human can right every wrong!
Solomon was absolute Monarch of Israel and he found all these things to be true.
Solomon realized no matter how hard he worked, he could not solve all the problems in his kingdom.
Solomon realized no matter how much trade and construction he brought to Israel, he could not meet every person’s needs.
Even when we look out over our own families, we see work that we just do not have the power to make right.
We too can become discouraged by all that needs to be done.
The important thing to remember is that God has not called us to solve the worlds problems!
BUT, we can also take note that every problem we solve, every person we help, and every need we meet, does make a difference in this world!
AND, only Jesus Christ has what we need to satisfy the soul!
Psa 107:9 For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.
The world says possessions, power, prestige and position define our success.
God says success can only be found in the Word of God!
Jos 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
Success is finding the will of God and then doing it!
2Ti 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
SO, Solomon had to take a look at himself in life’s mirror.
*****Ecc 1:16 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.
Ecc 1:17 And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit.
Solomon was given the gift of wisdom by God.
Solomon then took that wisdom and educated himself in all the wisdom of the world.
Remember “wisdom” is the ability and good sense to discern and apply knowledge that is gained.
Solomon became wiser that any other ruler.
Solomon became the smartest man in the world in his day!
Solomon then struggled to separate wisdom from foolishness.
Many of man’s ideas are truly foolish!
Many results of the human way of thinking are ridiculous and lack common sense.
Many human inventions lack any real purpose.
Most humans spend much to much time on foolishness!
Solomon even realized that being the smartest man in the world actually had no real meaning!
Satan promised Eve increased knowledge, if she would reject the Word of God and listen to him.
Gen 3:5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
In the end Adam and Eve gained knowledge, but it was knowledge that they and the human race would have been better off without!
We live in the end times and God told Daniel that knowledge would increase during this time.
Dan 12:4 But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.
In truth, much of this knowledge is knowledge that this world would be better off without!
Solomon found that that these things just cause “vexation of the spirit”.
It is the knowledge of all life’s problems, that are beyond our control, that will lead us to the Lord!
Happiness is not found in knowledge or higher education!
Nothing on or in this world can replace our yearning for the knowledge of God!
Yet most of our world still deny God and the clear evidence of His existence and worldly knowledge will only drive them further from God!
*****Ecc 1:18 For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.
The more we know about humanity the greater will be our grief over human affairs.
Men have sought solutions to man’s problems throughout the centuries but the truth is, because of our sin nature, we humans continue making the same mistakes over and over again.
Until we have a reverent fear of the Lord, we will always lack in true wisdom!
Until we depart from all evil, we will never understand the truth on mankind!
Job 28:28 And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.
None of these things can happen until we invite the Lord Jesus Christ into our heart and then be filled with the Holy Spirit, who will be our guide in this life!