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All Is Vanity

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Prayer
If you were with us last week, we spent our time looking at the JOY OF THE LORD...
And I was grateful that we were able to do that...
Not only because of what came before it...
But also for what’s coming today...
Today, we’re going to begin making our way through the book of Ecclesiastes...
and so I think it’s beneficial to have in the back of our minds...
a biblical view of the JOY OF THE LORD...
…as we march through this book.
See, Ecclesiastes is attributed to Solomon…the wisest man of his time...
And in this book he takes on a BIG QUESTION...
He takes on - the question of - MEANING IN LIFE...
NOW - this isn’t something that we’re NAIVE to...
1,000’s of books have been written - CLAIMING to have all the answers...
Claiming that if you use THESE strategies....you’ll find success and happiness!
Well - I think Solomon had something to say about all of that...
Let’s get to it...
Ecclesiastes 1:1–11 ESV
1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. 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? 4 A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. 5 The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises. 6 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. 7 All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again. 8 All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. 9 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. 10 Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us. 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.
Initially in this text we see a pointer as to who wrote the book...
the SON of DAVID…being Solomon
And then it’s v3 that really is the crux of the entire book.
Ecclesiastes 1:3 ESV
3 What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?
This is a HUGE question!
What does man gain...
What is the BENEFIT of all of man’s pursuits in this world…in life…?
NOW - the world would give you a plethora of BENEFITS!
We pursue a mate so that we can procreate, pass on contributing members to society for future generations...
WHY? - so that the human race can progress and carry on
We pursue jobs so that we can make money, and take care of our families
We pursue money, not only to take care of our families, but so that we can stay alive, and help others do the same
We pursue success because that’s how we can maintain a consistent style of living, and because it feels good to succeed
We pursue knowledge so that we can gain skills and wisdom in order to help ourselves and humanity exist and continue on...
We pursue a lot of things, with seemingly good motives and outcomes...
The problem with the world’s answers to questions like these is this - the world doesn’t contemplate...
ULTIMATE REALITIES...
The world will give you all of these answers...
We pursue money, not only to take care of our families, but so that we can stay alive, and help others do the same....
The question BACK to them should be - OK, but why is THAT a good thing? Ultimately?
WHY should we DO WHAT WE CAN to help others STAY alive?
Why is that good?
Why is that something that should be pursued?
Their typical response? - because....it just makes sense
They don’t know WHY it makes sense…
Solomon here - is going to walk through ANSWERING that question...
What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?
And the first thing he’s going to do is this…LOOK TO CREATION
SLIDE: CREATION: A Testament to Futility

CREATION

We’re going to skip v4 for now, and come back to it later...
Ecclesiastes 1:5–7 ESV
5 The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises. 6 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. 7 All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again.
As Solomon points to creation here, we can get a sense of the point that he's trying to make...
- The sun rises, goes back down...
- But then 'rushes' back to the place it began...
- REPEAT
- The wind blows to the south...
- ..and then goes around to the north...
- REPEAT
- But no progress... 
- All streams run to the sea, BUT what?
- there is no progress.
- The sea is NOT full...
- where the streams flow to...there they continue to FLOW...
- But there is no progress
- The sea is not full...
What we see Solomon do here is go straight to the Big Stuff...
- He wants us to see that EVEN:
- Light
- Air
- Water (the big 3)
- All have fallen into FUTILITY (pointlessness)
And you might say, well Light isn't pointless...
- Air isn't pointless
- Water isn't pointless
But think through it...
Ask the ULTIMATE question...Yes, Light helps things exist..
..but to what end?
Yes, Air helps things to exist...but to what end?
Yes, Water helps things to exist....but to what end?
Paul tells us in Romans what happened to Creation when sin entered the world...
Romans 8:19–20 ESV
19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope
So creation, in it's current state, does not operate as it was originally intended...
Because of man's SIN - creation itself - experienced the FALL
Genesis 3:17 ESV
17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
Cursed is the ground - BECAUSE of you!
Although the natural world is not itself fallen or disobedient to God,
Adam’s sin brought the created order into bondage:
to death (animals, trees, stars, all of these things - subject to death)
decay (Copopa - left empty for 4 years - what happened? - WHY are we putting a new roof on this place?)
corruption (
and futility (we read before the absence of progress in creation)
And so what Solomon is wanting to do here by pointing to CREATION is to show us - that even CREATION...
...which DIDN'T earn FUTILITY - is CHAINED to it!
And CANNOT escape unless God does something!
Creation is indifferent to you and your existence.
It was here before you, and it will be here, UNCHANGED, after we go...
It’s also TRAPPED in a cycle of monotonous and meaningless motion...
It’s FOREVER moving, yet accomplishing nothing!
And if Creation (which didn't CHOOSE futility) is bound to FUTILITY Then SURELY MANKIND - who DID choose futility - would also be bound to it!
SLIDE: MANKIND: A Testament to Futility

MANKIND

Ecclesiastes 1:4 ESV
4 A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever.
And so what is Solomon saying here?
*If you were to go out in the woods and find a large stone there on the ground...
and you look closely at it...
THINK of how many colonies of ants had probably trecked their way across that rock...
AND YET...
NO SIGN that they were even there!
No evidence that they were even there!
So it is with MANKIND!
One generation passes, and another fills it’s spot!
**Driving downtown - Rachel always looks at OLD BUILDINGS and thinks back to when they were BRAND NEW!
This is how it is with US!
We’re ALL - dying! (from conception to the grave)
And it’s during this process of futility that we also experience futility!
Ecclesiastes 1:8 ESV
8 All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.
In a nutshell - Solomon is saying this - The World cannot satisfy!
And we know it DOESN’T!
*Who in here believes that they’ve seen enough things in their lifetime, and they’re completely ok with going to the hospital tomorrow to have their eyes removed?
Who believes that their eyes have COMPLETELY satisfied them in their lifetime and that they have no more need of their eyes?
*OK, well who in here has heard enough things in their lifetime that they’re good with getting their inner ears taken out so they can’t hear anymore?
Who has heard enough beautiful music in their lifetime that they couldn’t possibly ENJOY any more music?
You know WHY NO ONE is interested in having their eyes removed? Or their EARS destroyed?
BECAUSE - for all the things that your eyes have seen in your life…the eye is not satisfied!
And because FOR ALL the things that your ears have heard in your life - the ear is not satisfied!!
We are CONSTANTLY seeing things…at ALL times while we’re awake!
CONSTANTLY hearing things....
YET - we - WANT MORE!
The world CAN’T SATISFY US!!
Remember this question? - Why is it that we all could eat a HUGE meal right now...
and yet - 8 hours later - BE STARVING!!
It’s BECAUSE v8 is true!
And the FUTILITY of this world is being EXPOSED!
It CANNOT satisfy!
It gives and gives and gives and gives...
AND YET - it doesn’t satisfy!
Just as WE were made to be SATISFIED (hence our pursuit TO BE)...
NATURE was made to POINT US TO THE ONLY THING THAT CAN SATISFY… GOD!
And so in our current state… IT CANNOT satisfy…and we CANNOT BE satisfied by it!
And not only that but...
Ecclesiastes 1:9–11 ESV
9 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. 10 Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us. 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.
You know what this passage here does to MANKIND?
It puts the NAIL in our eternal COFFIN!
*What is something we ALWAYS say EVERY YEAR before the Brown’s start playing…???
We say - This COULD BE THE YEAR!
WHY do we say that?
Because every year, we have HOPE!
BUT in relation to these verses here - we see that in relation to where MANKIND is headed...
We have NO HOPE!
We’re not going to STUMBLE across some NEW scientific finding that:
allows man to live forever on this earth
NOW - people have HOPE!
But what does this say?
Ecclesiastes 1:9 ESV
9 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.
The world is IN BONDAGE…and humanity…is unable to EXPLAIN....find SATISFACTION in…or ALTER it!
ONLY the WORD who came into the world from above....
can open the way of understanding and escape...
John 8:23 ESV
23 He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.
John 8:31–32 ESV
31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
There is NOTHING NEW under the sun, nor will there BE!
We’ve seen that the FALL of MANKIND, fractured reality in such a way that NOW ...
..UNLESS GOD does something...
LIFE on this earth ULTIMATELY - results in death and eternal punishment.
And so get your SWAG on all you want...
Pursue the heights of:
Wealth
Success
Achievement
Popularity
Power
DO IT ALL - and it GAINS you - NOTHING but eternal punishment
BUT GOD DID do something....
Jesus Christ did the NEW THING - DIED to RESCUE you…from this FUTILITY!
He created a NEW covenant
WITH a NEW birth
UNTO NEW life!
And a NEW commandment!
SLIDE: JESUS CHRIST: The Testament of Life

JESUS CHRIST

Creation? - In a state of unchanging POINTLESSNESS
MANKIND? - In a state of unchanging futility!
THIS is the power of SIN!
And the ONLY power to BREAK the power of SIN is - Jesus Christ!
Romans 6:5–8 ESV
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
So Christ’s death…brings SIN to nothing…!
And in Christ - His death becomes our DEATH!
what did v7 say?
Romans 6:7 ESV
7 For one who has died has been set free from sin.
NOW NOTICE:
Death needs to occur in order for SIN to be brought to NOTHING!
But what did God say in the before the FALL?
Genesis 2:16–17 ESV
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
God says - IF you disobey me, you shall surely - DIE!
Now - at the moment that man sinned, spiritual death came upon them!
BUT also - physical death then became a REALITY for them!!
And so think back to Romans 6:7...
“For one who has died has been set free from sin!”
Well, in the garden, adam and eve Spiritually died…and physical death became a reality...
Could either of those DEATHS accomplish Romans 6:7?
Romans 6:7 ESV
7 For one who has died has been set free from sin.
Could this FREEING here be accomplished by the Spiritual death of Adam, OR the physical death that ADAM would experience?
Answer = No!
Why?
Because the DEATH that came upon Adam and Eve was as a result of - Adam and Eve’s SIN
Their own SIN brought upon them - DEATH
And therefore their DEATH could NEVER free them from that judgement of God!
The DEATH that came upon mankind was due to God’s judgement!!
The DEATH that came upon Jesus Christ was due to - SACRIFICE
John 10:17–18 ESV
17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
Jesus LAID down His life....
…and then TOOK it up again....ROSE again!
CONQUERING death!!
and BREAKING the chains of FUTILITY for creation and mankind
Romans 8:19 ESV
19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.
Creation is chomping at the bit - to get back to it’s original PURPOSE...
to be SET FREE from the endless - monotonous - circles of pointlessness in its existence!
So NOW - on this side of the cross, how does the WORK of CHRIST operate in a world that is subject to FUTILITY?
Matthew 5:16 ESV
16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
The way that the WORK of Christ on the cross AFFECTS this world in its futility...
…is by YOU!
YOU are the one!!!
Why do you think we had a table at the park this weekend?
Did you know that there is A PASTOR in all of your neighborhoods?????
It’s YOU!
It’s not SOMEONE else!
Did you know that there is a HELPING HANDS ministry right in your neighborhood?????
it’s YOU!
It’s not someone else!
This WORLD is in BONDAGE to SIN, to Corruption, Futility…and the ONLY way that it will SEE, and HEAR..
…HOPE of FREEDOM...
is FROM YOU!!!
*Trey’s Baseball Game (Discipleship - 95 degree heat)
what we value - we commit to
What have we seen today from Solomon?
SUMMARY
SLIDE: A Testament to Futility
Creation
Mankind
But we’ve also seen what -
SLIDE: The Testament to Life
The Testament to Life
Jesus Christ
By Faith alone…in Christ alone....we break the chains of Futility...
and all then - that we end up doing UNDER the SUN...
…GLORIFIES God and draws men to HIM - their only hope!
Let’s pray
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