1. The one-word theme of Ecclesiastes is: PURPOSE. It is a call to examine all of life and question the very reason for it – for our existing and living.
2. Ecclesiastes 1:1-11 (ESV) 2 Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. 3 What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?…11 There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to be among those who come after.
RAF: Here is the question, the GREAT question is you will: Is life just this endless cycle of – stuff?
Is there any real meaning to it?
Or do we come and go, and that’s it?
3. Ecclesiastes 1:13-15 (ESV) 13 And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 14 I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind. 15 What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be counted.
RAF: The Preacher’s lament here is not due to considering life as a man who is in right relationship with God – but life considered in the context of the Fall and as man apart from God.
Rom. 8 tells us that the Lord “subjected” the world to “futility” as a result of the Fall, that hope might come in. The idea is to make life considered alone, as a meaningless reality apart from the purpose for which we were created. We are not be content in any way with this fallen existence as it is, but look forward to when the universe will be completely restored to its right relationship with Him. The present situation cannot be fixed as is. The crookedness of this present life cannot be made straight. Nothing less than a complete new heavens and earth will suffice. Nothing, but an entirely new mode of existence. Come quickly Lord Jesus.
4. Ecclesiastes 1:16-18 (ESV) I said in my heart, “I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind. 18 For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.
RAF: Knowing for “knowing’s” sake – is utterly empty. How many give themselves to the sport of knowledge? But when it is all said and done, if it does not lead them to a better knowledge of God and His purposes, they have wasted every moment of it. We can do this even in theology. Beware!
5. Ecclesiastes 2:1 (ESV) I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity.
RAF: So, let’s see if pleasure satisfies.
4 -6 Not: Pleasure in accomplishment.
7-8 Not: Pleasure in possessions.
How many are still laboring under the illusion that the reason their life is meaningless is either because they have not accomplished something great or lasting, or because they do not possess something – apart from which they imagine themselves to be bereft of true satisfaction. Should they then get these, they will prove to be nothing at all. Oh how we need to be divested of this thinking before we engage in pursing its emptiness.
NOTE: Not that there was NO pleasure at all, but that there was nothing lasting, nothing truly satisfying. (v. 10)
6. Then I said in my heart, “What happens to the fool will happen to me also. Why then have I been so very wise?” And I said in my heart that this also is vanity. ESV – Ec 2:15
RAF: For any and all who consider what life is about – this reality must be faced. If everything just ends in death, what difference does it make if I live wisely or foolishly? If I know much or little? It all just ends. Just “knowing” is a bottomless well which we can drown in. Apart from God, as is truly – vanity (emptiness).
7. 24 There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, 25 for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? 26 For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind. ESV – Ec 2:24-26
RAF: This then is the sum of what he has considered so far: From the hand of God in judgment as a result of the Fall, man has nothing at all better – not one thing – than merely eating, drinking and finding some sort of enjoyment in his work. This is the best the man apart from Christ can hope for. That’s it! Imagine then how many do not even have these? How many seem to strive for only these. How many are content with only these. This, is the deepest human tragedy writ large.