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A Juxtaposition

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The Race - Illustration
Comparing. For many of us we just cannot stop comparing. We look at others. What they are wearing. What they look like. Our seats on the airplane. Fish that we caught. Homes, cars, and now with social media, we compare lives. But one thing I wonder… do we compare wise and foolish things? I think so. We make judgements in our hearts about what people do. We will conclude, “you know what, that is one smart dude.” Or we say, “you know what, I think that boy’s cheese slid off his cracker.” Now here is the juxtaposition. The comparison today… is wisdom better than foolishness? The answer seems obvious… of course it is. You ever what the why women live longer than men video? Check this out. Wisdom is so so soooo much better than foolishness. But is it really? Today we will look at the comparison and conclusion of the Preacher in the book of Ecclesiastes and see why he does not think so.
Ecclesiastes
Ecclesiastes 2:12–17 NLT
So I decided to compare wisdom with foolishness and madness (for who can do this better than I, the king?). I thought, “Wisdom is better than foolishness, just as light is better than darkness. For the wise can see where they are going, but fools walk in the dark.” Yet I saw that the wise and the foolish share the same fate. Both will die. So I said to myself, “Since I will end up the same as the fool, what’s the value of all my wisdom? This is all so meaningless!” For the wise and the foolish both die. The wise will not be remembered any longer than the fool. In the days to come, both will be forgotten. So I came to hate life because everything done here under the sun is so troubling. Everything is meaningless—like chasing the wind.
Heaven and Earth will pass away but His Word will never pass away.
The Juxtaposition
The Conclusion
The Equalizer
Hatred for Life
The Wisdom of Christ
The first thing we will uncover is the next part of the quest of the meaning of life. Lets revisit this thing called wisdom and compare it to foolishness. Second, we will explore his conclusion seeing wisdom as so much better than folly. Third, we will see why in the end it really does not matter. All thing will be equal. Fourth, this conclusion leads to the preacher hating life itself. And finally, we will see that life is precious when it is the life and life more abundant that Christ brings.
Thesis: Though sin and the pattern of this world can cause us to despair in life under the sun, it is the truth of the gospel and the power of the Spirit that will cause us to see the realities of heaven and the wonders of a life under the Son of God.
I. The Juxtaposition
-The fact of two things being seen or placed close together with contrasting effect. A comparison.
A. Qoheleth continues his search for the meaning of life. All we have seen so far is failure upon failure. He has looked closely at wisdom and pleasure, but refuses to stop asking the question “why?” He does not stop but decides to take a closer look. I’m gonna try harder.
B. He looked at wisdom. For surely it would lead him to the answer. Many of the great philosophers thought the same. But he found that there are things that could not be straightened out. And he could not count what he did not have. Things he could not know cause they were just unknowable. Einsyein had a similar revelation.
C. He looked at pleasure. Wisdom did not help, maybe self indulgence will have a different result. He tried laughter, building extravagant homes and gardens, wine, women, and music, and denying himself nothing at all. All he desired. He had and experienced all that a man could desire. It still did not satisfy. Everything is still not Enough.
D. Just to make sure, I’m gonna once again look into wisdom and compare it to mad folly. Madness and folly go together. It is called a hendiadys. Two words used as one. Remember this is a moral term, not to be understood as mere stupidity or insanity. But bad or immoral behavior. So another way of saying all of this. He wants to study the difference between the right way and the wrong way to live, and then see if that would help him understand the purpose of life.
He wanted to compare the two, studying the difference between the right way and the wrong way to live, and then see if that would help him understand the purpose of life.
E. And who can do this better then the king? This is a definitive statement that he is making. The word of God is declaring that no one else would be able to do this better then the present king Solomon. As the wisest and wealthiest king, who is able to experience it all, he is in a unique position to do this.
F. Who could ever add anything to the experience of someone like Solomon? He is the ultimate test case. If he is not able to tell us the meaning of life, nobody else can. What hope is there for anyone else to answer these difficult questions. Historically, no one has since Solomon.
II. The Conclusion
- Wisdom wins hands down.
A. Let’s take a closer look at what he says.
Ecclesiastes 2:13 NLT
I thought, “Wisdom is better than foolishness, just as light is better than darkness.
Ecclesiastes 2:13 ESV
Then I saw that there is more gain in wisdom than in folly, as there is more gain in light than in darkness.
B. He is here lifting up wisdom to give us a glimmer of hope. Live the right way is so much better than living the wrong way. Maybe it is true that wisdom cannot make straight what is crooked nor can it count what is missing and increasing wisdom only increases sorrow. But let me say this, having wisdom is still way better than the alternative.
Perhaps it is true that wisdom is unable to straighten out what is crooked or to count what is missing. It may well be the case that having more wisdom increases vexation and sorrow. But all other things being equal, having wisdom is still better than the alternative. Earlier
C. Wisdom does have advantages. It may be limited, but I have found that it is way better to be a wise person than to be an immoral fool. How much better? Way better.
Ryken, P. G. (2010). Ecclesiastes: Why everything matters (p. 60). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
D. What he does here is make the comparison of wisdom and foolishness and he likens it to light and darkness. We all know that light is better then darkness especially when walking through life. The wise can see the path as opposed to the mad fools who only stumble through life in the dark.
E. More literally he says that wise people have eyes in their heads. They have a good perception on life. They make good decisions that cause them to get ahead in the race. They can achieve a lot more in life than the foolish. Ahh, but the immoral fools walk in darkness, they just do not see where they are going in life.
F. Let me add a bit of clarity to the immoral nature of this. The immoral do love the darkness instead of the light. Mad fools desire it.
John 3:19 NLT
And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.
G. So you see it is not just foolish behavior, but also immoral behavior. This is what Solomon is comparing. So it is better to be wise living in accordance to the proverbs and not stumble through life. And this is so obvious.
Derek Kidner -
Ryken, P. G. (2010). Ecclesiastes: Why everything matters (p. 59). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
As the wisest and wealthiest king, he is in a unique position to do this. Who could ever add anything to the experience of someone like Solomon? He is the ultimate test case.
Proverbs
Proverbs 10:8 NLT
The wise are glad to be instructed, but babbling fools fall flat on their faces.
H. T. M. Moore, “I saw that wisdom was more valuable by far than folly. It makes more sense to pursue the course of wisdom than to waste one’s life in revelry and merriment. This was as clear as night and day to me.”
Ryken, P. G. (2010). Ecclesiastes: Why everything matters (p. 60). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
T. M. Moore, “I saw that wisdom was more valuable by far than folly. It makes more sense to pursue the course of wisdom than to waste one’s life in revelry and merriment. This was as clear as night and day to me.”
I. But here we go. Dr. Derek Kidner writes, “The bare comparison of wisdom and folly is simple, but the final assessment is shattering.”
Ryken, P. G. (2010). Ecclesiastes: Why everything matters (p. 61). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
III. The Equalizer
- But what difference does it make if in the end the wise and the fool ends up in the same place?
A. Errrghghgh. Really it make no difference in the end.
Ecclesiastes 2:14 NIV
The wise have eyes in their heads, while the fool walks in the darkness; but I came to realize that the same fate overtakes them both.
Ecclesiastes 2:14
B. If there is one thing that will affect us all. The great equalizer. It is death. We will all die. So what is the conclusion? To say it another way… As we go through life, it is better to be wise than foolish. But what will happen to us in the end? We will all die anyway. So what really is the use of being wise?
As we go through life, it is better to be wise than foolish. But what will happen to us in the end? We will all die anyway. So what really is the use of being wise?
C. Think about it. Once we are dead, what good is all of our wisdom. Whatever we gain from wisdom is strictly temporary. Whether we are wise or foolish, either way, one day, we will soon be dead, and who will remember us then? Death is the great equalizer.
Ryken, P. G. (2010). Ecclesiastes: Why everything matters (p. 62). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
Once we are dead, our wisdom will not do us any good. Whatever advantage we gain from wisdom is strictly temporary. Whether we are wise or foolish, either way we will soon be dead, and who will remember us then? Death is the great equalizer.
D. A story is told by Dr. Haddon Robinson. Dr. Ronbinson recounted what it was like for him to stand at the graveside of a man who had a working knowledge of thirty-four languages. Most people know only one or two languages, at the most, but here was a man who understood nearly three dozen. Yet in the end it didn’t matter how smart he was—he was still as dead as could be. The psalmist concurs
Ryken, P. G. (2010). Ecclesiastes: Why everything matters (p. 62). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
Dr. Haddon Robinson preach from Ecclesiastes, he recounted what it was like for him to stand at the graveside of a man who had a working knowledge of thirty-four languages. Most people know only one or two languages, at the most, but here was a man who understood nearly three dozen. Yet in the end it didn’t matter how smart he was—he was still as dead as could be. “Even the wise die,” the psalmist says; “the fool and the stupid alike must perish” ().
Psalm 49:10 NLT
Those who are wise must finally die, just like the foolish and senseless, leaving all their wealth behind.
Ryken, P. G. (2010). Ecclesiastes: Why everything matters (p. 62). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
E. Death is truly no respecter of persons. This is the ultimate and tragic absurdity that frustrates all of our efforts to find meaning in life. We go through life desperately trying to deny the reality of our mortality, maybe even the reality of death; yet we are haunted by death anyway. We just cannot get passed it.
Death is no respecter of persons. This tragic absurdity frustrates all of our efforts to find meaning in life. We go through life desperately trying to deny the reality of our mortality; yet we are haunted by death just the same. Gregg
F. One thing that we have got to see today. The reality of our own mortality. We can come to grips with it on an intellectual level knowing that we will die but have we come to see its hand upon us all. I heard an illustration from about a soldier. The soldier talked about how they confront this reality on the battlefield. Soldiers go into battle with the delusion that although other men will die in the battle, somehow they will manage to survive. But when they see the first of their fellow soldier fall, they will think, “That could have been me” and are now compelled to confront their own mortality.
Ryken, P. G. (2010). Ecclesiastes: Why everything matters (p. 62). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
This is something every soldier confronts in wartime. Many soldiers go into their first battle with the naive expectation that although other men will die, somehow they will manage to survive. But when they see their first comrade fall in battle, they think, “That could have been me” and are compelled to confront their own mortality.
G. Qoheleth came to a realization, “One day I am going to die; my heart will beat one last time, my lungs will exhale one final breath, and that will be the end of my days on this earth.” What happens to the fool will happen to me also. Why have I been wise? For what?
Ryken, P. G. (2010). Ecclesiastes: Why everything matters (p. 63). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
One day I am going to die; my heart will beat one last time, my lungs will exhale one final breath, and that will be the end of my days on this earth.
H. This painful reality makes the wise man wonder how wise it really is to pursue wisdom. In view of his impending demise, figuring out the meaning of life now seems like a lot of wasted effort.
Ryken, P. G. (2010). Ecclesiastes: Why everything matters (p. 63). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
This painful reality makes the wise man wonder how wise it really is to pursue wisdom. In view of his impending demise, figuring out the meaning of life now seems like a lot of wasted effort. Jean-Paul Sartre would have agreed, for the famous existentialist has been quoted as saying, “Life has no meaning the moment you lose the illusion of being eternal.”
Jean-Paul Sartre would have agreed, for the famous existentialist has been quoted as saying, “Life has no meaning the moment you lose the illusion of being eternal.”
Ryken, P. G. (2010). Ecclesiastes: Why everything matters (p. 63). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
I. There is a further problem with death, and again it is a problem that afflicts the wise every bit as much as the foolish: death has the power to erase the very memory of our existence. Sometimes people try to overcome this problem by earthly achievement, but death still wins out in the end. The filmmaker Woody Allen acknowledged this when he said, “I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it by not dying.” Yet the reality is that we all must die. And who will remember us when we are gone? Will anyone remember?
There is a further problem with death, and again it is a problem that afflicts the wise every bit as much as the foolish: death has the power to erase the very memory of our existence. Sometimes people try to overcome this problem by earthly achievement, but death still wins out in the end. The filmmaker Woody Allen acknowledged this when he said, “I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it by not dying.” Yet the reality is that we all must die. And who will remember us when we are gone?
J.
Ecclesiastes 2:16 NLT
For the wise and the foolish both die. The wise will not be remembered any longer than the fool. In the days to come, both will be forgotten.
Ryken, P. G. (2010). Ecclesiastes: Why everything matters (p. 63). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
J. Whether we are rich or poor, death will bring an end to every advantage we have in life. So Qoheleth’s quest has failed again. A fresh investigation has come up with the same old findings. Human wisdom cannot overcome death, and therefore it cannot solve the problem of meaning in life. Death brings everything to a halt.
Whether we are rich or poor, death will bring an end to every advantage we have in life. So Qoheleth’s quest has failed again. A fresh investigation has come up with the same old findings. Human wisdom cannot overcome death, and therefore it cannot solve the problem of meaning in life. Death brings everything to a halt. “If one fate comes to all,” writes Derek Kidner, “and that fate is extinction, it robs every man of his dignity and every project of its point.”
IV. Hatred for Life
Ryken, P. G. (2010). Ecclesiastes: Why everything matters (pp. 63–64). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
- “I hate life, and yet I am afraid to die.” - Voltaire
A. The Preacher is back on the treadmill, he is back trying to grasp for the evaporating mist and smoke of life. He is back crying out meaningless or meaningless. He is back trying to shepherd the wind. Vanity of Vanities. But now it is really starting to get to him. It is sounding like he is giving up.
Ecclesiastes 2:17 NLT
So I came to hate life because everything done here under the sun is so troubling. Everything is meaningless—like chasing the wind.
B. It is one thing to be disappointed with life and all its frustrations, but hating life is another thing entirely. The Solomon of Ecclesiastes seems to be spiraling down into absolute despair. It is not just his life that he hates but life itself. Wow. And is this not what many of us see today?
It is one thing to be disappointed with life and all its frustrations, but hating life is another thing entirely. The Solomon of Ecclesiastes seems to be spiraling down into absolute despair. It is not just his life that he hates but life in general—the whole enterprise of human existence. So he has reached what one scholar calls “a nadir of anger and despair.”
C. Solomon is showing us us the futility of life without God. There is no hope at all at a life without God. Without Christ life is pointless and leads to utter despair. It will be so bad that we come to actually hate breathing.
Ryken, P. G. (2010). Ecclesiastes: Why everything matters (p. 64). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
The 1952 Nobel Prize for literature Francois Mauriac wrote, “You can’t imagine the torment of having had nothing out of life, and of having to look forward to nothing but death, of feeling that there is no other world beyond this one, that the puzzle will never be explained.”
“You can’t imagine the torment of having had nothing out of life, and of having to look forward to nothing but death, of feeling that there is no other world beyond this one, that the puzzle will never be explained.”
D. Such is life under the sun. The Preacher hated life because of the certainty of death and the absurdity of losing all his wisdom as a result. Maybe you hate life for some other reason—for its physical pain perhaps or its unjust suffering or its broken relationships or its financial hardships or its many other disappointments. But whatever the reason, as long as we look at things from an under-the-sun perspective, there are many things to hate about life.
Ryken, P. G. (2010). Ecclesiastes: Why everything matters (p. 64). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
Such is life under the sun. The Preacher hated life because of the certainty of death and the absurdity of losing all his wisdom as a result. Maybe you hate life for some other reason—for its physical pain perhaps or its unjust suffering or its broken relationships or its financial hardships or its many other disappointments. But whatever the reason, as long as we look at things from an under-the-sun perspective, there are many things to hate about life.
V. The Wisdom of Life
Ryken, P. G. (2010). Ecclesiastes: Why everything matters (p. 64). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
A. The only way awau from this hatred of lafe is wisdom,but it is wosdom that we find from the Son of God
- The only way from this hatred of life is wisdom, but it is wisdom that we find from the Son of God.
A. This is what we all have in our grasp. We have the scriptures. We have the Word of God. We have all that we need for life and godliness. What we need to do today is stop setting our minds on things below and start setting our hearts and minds on things above.
B. How are we gonna love life more than hating it. Stop looking at things under the sun, but to fix our eyes upon Jesus Christ the author and finisher of our faith. Fix our eyes on the Son of God. Stop wasting our lives on the meaningless and live in the light as He is in the light. Rather than limiting ourselves to human wisdom, as useful as it is in many ways, we are encouraged to set our minds on heavenly things. This is life.
Rather than limiting ourselves to human wisdom, as useful as it is in many ways, we are encouraged to set our minds on heavenly things.
C. Wisdom from the scriptures shows us that He is the ultimate wisdom. It is Jesus that is our hope today. It is Jesus who is our all in all. Jesus is everything. He is the wisdom of God. He is our life.
Ryken, P. G. (2010). Ecclesiastes: Why everything matters (p. 65). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
Colossians
Colossians 3:1 NLT
Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand.
D. The hatred for life is a reality today. It is sin that continues to draw us to hope in all things under the sun. It causes us to look for life in all places that will not bring life. It will not bring hope.
E. Jesus promises to bring us life today. Many of us can give testimony as to this new life. And the fulfillment of it. We can have life in Christ today. Life and life more abundantly is possible to have today. This is the Gospel of Jesus.
F. Jesus died for our sins and he was buried… The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. He came to seek and to save that which was lost.
G. If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord. All who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Salvation belongs to the Lord.
H. Because Jesus is Alive. Because he conquered the grave we do not need to fear death. The grave is not the end for all those who trust in the Lord. Wisdom from the earth will fail, but heavenly wisdom is forever.
I. For those who set their minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, there is life and wisdom beyond the grave. Here on earth we may be forgotten, but we will never be forgotten by our heavenly Father.
For those who set their minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, there is life and wisdom beyond the grave.
J. We no longer need to be afraid. We no longer need to hate life. Are you afraid of death? Don’t. Do you hate life? Don’t. Do you ever worry that you will be forgotten? Don’t. Are you discouraged by the vanity of your existence? Don’t. Do you feel like you have been striving after the wind? Don’t. Look above the sun to the Son of God. He will raise us up from the dead and will protect our lives forever.
Ryken, P. G. (2010). Ecclesiastes: Why everything matters (p. 65). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
Ryken, P. G. (2010). Ecclesiastes: Why everything matters (p. 66). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
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