I’m going through the book of Ecclesiastes right now in my morning time with the Lord. When I share with people that this is one of my very favorite books of the Bible they (the ones who are even remotely familiar with it) look at me like I have a screw loose.
Ecclesiastes? Isn’t that they “Meaningless, Meaningless! All of life is meaningless!” book?
Well, yes and no.
No, I’m not trying to evade the question. Or, am I?
What’s actually going on in the book is that the wisest human who ever lived is conducting an experiment on life. He’s applying his wisdom (which was a gift from God. See, 2 Chronicles 1:7–12 or just click here to read it.) to all the false avenues people so often use in their pursuit of happiness. The goal is to settle once and for all whether or not these things can deliver the fulfilled life so many believe they can.
Yet mankind goes right on trying. No matter how many Donald Trumps we see looking more like Donald Grump than Trump—most still believe if they had more money they would be happier. And no matter how many Paris Hiltons and Brittney Spears—Madonnas, Michael Jacksons, etc, etc, we observe, a lot of people still cling to the notion that fame and popularity is where it’s at. And finally, living in the age of Xtreme everything—no matter how many thrill seekers testify to the ongoing emptiness in their lives—people still theorize that “thrills and good times will deliver the elusive prize of happiness right to their front doors.
Then you have someone like Solomon start out the book of Ecclesiastes with the phrase, “Vanity of vanities—all is vanity,” and people conclude that even the pursuit of these things I’ve listed above is better than the doomy, gloomy outlook Solomon apparently ascribed to. But here’s the sad thing.
That’s not what Ecclesiastes is about.
That’s not even what the first chapter is about.
It’s not a book about giving up on life. It’s not a book you should only read after you have removed all sharp objects from the room. It’s a book of great hope that—if you let it—will help you get off the treadmill of despair and on to God’s path—the only path that can bring fulfillment in life.
And here’s the key to knowing God’s intent for the book—it’s the 2 phrases, “Under the Sun” and “Under Heaven.” Solomon uses one or the other at least 32 times in the book, and his ultimate purpose might surprise you.
He’s not saying that, “everything, absolutely everything, that you can even imagine—in the entire universe is nothing but a waste!” He’s saying, “everything done from a purely human perspective is meaningless, while everything from an eternal perspective is not.”
Both terms mean, ‘lacking an eternal perspective and having only an earthly perspective.’
An old preacher friend of mine, Jack Wyrtzen, used to say:
Only one life twill soon be past
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Maybe he was the wisest man who ever lived.