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Wake Up Call Part 1

Wake Up Call  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  41:36
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Introduction

TEXT: Eccl. 1:1-11
Ecclesiastes 1:1–11 ESV
The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun? A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises. The wind blows to the south and goes around to the north; around and around goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns. All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again. All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us. There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to be among those who come after.
Illustration: Waking up students with cold water at camp
No one really likes or wants a wake up call. The alarm always seems so rude.
“Wake up Call” = a person or thing that causes people to become fully alert to an unsatisfactory situation and to take action to remedy it
So we are going to be getting some wake up calls.
In the book of Ecclesiastes we get several wake up calls that alerts us to reality and challenges us to make a change.
Ecclesiastes: a strange book, seemingly morbid, some have wondered why its in the Bible at all
Written by Solomon, a part of wisdom literature (doesn’t talk about redemptive plan but gives practical advice for living in redemption)
Gives us Solomon’s self experiment—see if it is possible to find meaning and fulfillment in this life (“under the sun”—30x’s =life without God)
In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon gives us a harsh challenge to really consider what our lives are about. He conducts an experiment in his life to find out what it's all really about. And in the end, he uses himself as a personal guinea pig in order to teach what life is really about.
Why? Because he knows how easy it is to just live our lives, busying ourselves to the point where we never really ask the tough questions.
First Wake Up Call: All of Life is Vanity … and if so, how should we live?

All of Life is Defined by Vanity

Ecc. 1:2
Ecclesiastes 1:2 ESV
Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
​What is he saying here? It’s important because he uses this word 38 times in twelve chapters.
Many translations say “meaningless”.
This sounds like what you may have heard in your freshman philosophy class. That life is all there is. All we know is what we can observe and measure (call empiricism). So therefore there is no meaning beyond this life as we know it.
This in fact the the story of modern western thought … 1) no God 2) all we know is this life 3) no meaning so we need to create it [we’ll get to this later]
And Ecclesiastes certainly speaks to this philosophy.
But Solomon is saying something simpler, more practical.
“Vanity” here is the work hevel in the Hebrew. It comes from the word breath, wind, vapor.
So the term “vanity” is better than “meaningless”
Def. Vanity-can mean “inflated pride in oneself or one's appearance” but also can refer to someone that relies on empty things like appearance or reputation.
Vanity points to ...
Life is short —Ps. 39:5-6; 11
Psalm 39:5–6 ESV
Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah Surely a man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!
a vapor or whiff of smoke … doesn’t last long at all
Life is Elusive
Illustration: smoke rings … can’t grab it
Life is repetitious & monotonous
Eccl. 1:6-10
Ecclesiastes 1:6–10 ESV
The wind blows to the south and goes around to the north; around and around goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns. All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again. All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us.
Life is profitless --- something left over
Eccl. 1:3-4 “What does a man gain by all the toil …?
Ecclesiastes 1:3–4 ESV
What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun? A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever.
Answer .... there isn’t any. We will die and leave everything we’ve done behind
Eccl. 1:11
Ecclesiastes 1:11 ESV
There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to be among those who come after.
Solomon “sketches humankind’s place on the canvas of the entire universe to show, in graphic terms, just how and why there is nothing to be gained. I leave only one thing behind, and that’s the earth I used to live on, remaining right where it was when I first arrived, only now it spins without me.”

Our Lives Should be Informed by Vanity

So in light of this, how should we live? This is Solomon’s goal. To help us consider how we will live.
Western secular philosophy has attempted to answer this question.
1) Humanist—make this world a better place—forgotten
2) Hedonist—just feel good and have fun—doesn’t last
3) Existentialist—live a moral, good life in the face of meaninglessness—who decides good, moral?
But here’s the thing, Solomon isn’t talking to modern secularists .... he’s talking to God’s people
Here’s the question then: are we are virtually doing the same thing?
Are we ignoring the reality that life is actually just a breath?
Are we busying ourselves, striving, toiling, and deep down hoping we can make this life what we think it should be?
Illustration: Matrix: Red Pill or the Blue Pill
Solomon wants us to let the reality of our short life and death sink into our bones and lodge deep into our hearts.
So Solomon asks the question: “What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?” Is there?
The good news is that, Yes, there can be “gain”. This is the good news of the gospel.
1 Cor. 15:56-58
1 Corinthians 15:56–58 ESV
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
And we are also told that “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Tim Keller makes a good point that either every moment in this life means something or every moment means nothing.
The good news of the gospel is that God somehow redeems every moment in our lives.

Conclusion

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