All Is Vanity – 1

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All Is Vanity – 1

Sermon by  Thomas Thornhill Jr

Passage: Ecclesiastes 1:1-11




Last month we began a monthly study of the   book of Ecclesiastes. This book is Solomon’s search for the meaning of life.   This is a book filled with practical wisdom for our every day life. It was written by Solomon, who was blessed with wisdom from God.   Solomon wisely concludes the ultimate result of life – fear God and keep His commandments. We will notice some of his observations on his way to that truthful conclusion.

  1.   All is vanity (1-3)
    1. All (material and worldly pursuits) is vanity – emptiness. Vapor or breath.     It is word found about 75 times in the Old Testament, of which 38 are in Ecclesiastes.
      In reference to things – the word means in the grand scheme this world, it is nothing, worthless or without value.
      In reference to mankind – it is emptiness or futility.
    2. What profit has a man for all his labor in which he toils under the sun?
      How many today, pursue wealth, fame, power, entertainment and pleasures, or luxury – thinking that they will give one completion or fulfillment?   Only to find out that the pursuit of such things often leave you empty. How many search for real meaning in this life, but refuse to acknowledge God in their pursuits, only to find themselves empty or unfulfilled?
      Matthew 16:26 – what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world…?
      1 Timothy 6:17 challenged Timothy to warn the wealthy not to pursue “uncertain riches”.
      Consider James 4:14 – your life is a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.   Friends, there is futility when we put our hope in the things of this life. 1 Corinthians 15:19 is clear that if in this life only we have hope, we are of all men most pitiable.
    3. There is one exception to this – if one fears God and keeps His commandments (12:12-14).
  2.   The Consistency of this world (4-11)
    1. One generation passes, another generation comes (4).
      We are all going to die (unless the Lord returns).
      Moses in Psalm 90:10 said, The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
      Hebrews 9:27. When we die that is it. We do not take anything with us. This is an oft repeated emphasis of this book.
    2. The earth abides forever (4-7)
      1. Following up on the fate of man’s short life, we read, “but the earth abides forever”.   The world goes on. There is NO ONE who is so indispensable that the world cannot continue without him. VERY few have a lasting impact that causes their names to be remembered by any beyond their generation.   BUT the world goes on!
      2. The sun rises and sets…,and continues on its circuit – and with such precision that we can tell to the second when the sun will set and rise for decades to come. After the flood, this was promised by God – Genesis 8:22, “While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, Cold and heat, Winter and summer, And day and night Shall not cease.”
        1. The wind goes toward the south…, and turns around to the north; it whirls continually and comes again on its circuit. Like the sun, wind are consistent (though not as exact as the sun, but somewhat predictable).
        2. Vs. 7 – all rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full.   This is the general rule – lakes and the oceans generally maintain their boundaries unless there is some extreme event.     And even then, typically they return to their boundaries.
      3. In Genesis 1:9-10 – He separated the lands from the seas. Job 38:8-11, where God is questioning Job about matters he does not understand, “Or who shut in the sea with doors, When it burst forth and issued from the womb; When I made the clouds its garment, And thick darkness its swaddling band; When I fixed My limit for it, And set bars and doors; When I said, ‘This far you may come, but no farther, And here your proud waves must stop!
        One source appealed to the Dead Sea – which receives waters from the Jordan, but doesn’t have an outlet, yet it has boundaries.
        Psalm 33:6-9, By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap; He lays up the deep in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.
        With our meteorology we now understand evaporation and how it carries water and produces the cycle of watering the earth.
        ALL these things happen day in and day out.     There is a sense in which nature is boring or mundane.   We take for granted that they will happen as expected.
      4. Thought:   In this we find consistency.   Consider this in light of the arguments for general evolution (from amoeba to man).
        As I am studying evidences, one thing I have been considering is the problems of beginning with atheistic evolution (naturalism).   It is ironic how the evolutionist will appeal to the constancy of the laws of nature (that is what science is about), while saying that we evolved (changed forms) through chance, accidents (mutations, etc.) and catastrophe, even when everything about consistency contradicts their theory.
        Romans 1:20 – His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and godhead…
        Psalm 14:1 – the fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’.
      5. Thought: We also find the power of God to sustain us – and we must never forget this (2 Peter 3:5-7).
        Think of the examples of our text
        – we need the sun to rise and set, and at the pace it does.   Too much more in either direction (i.e. a different daily rotation, or the earth’s circuit around the sun) and the earth would be uninhabitable;
        – Wind is also necessary for cooling and heating the earth.
        – Rivers provided water which sustains our life.
        GOD made these things so!
        Just as we can depend on the consistency of nature, we can depend on Him.   IF He can sustain the boring process of nature, He can do for us what He has promised.
        Yet how many take Him for granted?
        AND, let us not forget to apply these things to His word as well!

(To be continued in our next lesson)

And thus we can see the challenge of the routine of life.   Life has routine and that can be a good thing (think about it – you don’t have to learn everything over and over again).   But we don’t have to let the routine nature of life keep us from moving forward and living with purpose. Let us learn from the wisdom of Solomon, that is, the wisdom of God, that we are here for a REAL reason. Why are YOU here? Think about it!