When was the last time you read the book of Ecclesiastes? If you have 60-70 minutes of time, sit down and read through it in one sitting. You will be glad you did.
The second verse of the book introduces the theme that is repeated throughout:
“Meaningless! Meaningless! Utterly Meaningless. Everything is Meaningless, says the Teacher.”
Some translations use futility instead of meaningless.
Others use foolishness.
Still others use the word vanity.
Well, that sounds pretty depressing. I guess I would not blame you if you decided you wanted to watch reruns on TV instead of reading Ecclesiastes.
We don’t know who the author of this book is. It could be (but probably isn’t) King Solomon.* More likely, it is a person of influence and wisdom who was part of Solomon’s inner circle. I would not be at all surprised if there were conversations between the Teacher and Solomon on these matters. I would not be at all surprised if the Teacher recorded some of Solomon’s experiences and lessons learned from them.
In a nutshell, here is what Ecclesiastes is all about:
First: Where can I find meaning and purpose in life? What is it that makes meaning or gives meaning to life? To answer that question, the author experiments with all of the main options that have been tried through the long centuries: wisdom; pleasures (hedonism of all kinds, including sex; see Ecclesiastes 2:1-11); toil, labor, or work; advancement in career; fame, status, or celebrity; riches, wealth, or possessions; and everything else under the sun.
The author tries each of those possibilities and runs hard after them, pushing them to the max. The result of every one of them? Meaningless. Foolishness. Futility. Vanity!
All things, on their own, cannot give happiness. Even the good things God has woven into the fabric of this world (on their own) cannot give happiness. Everything (on its own) offers happiness, but it cannot deliver happiness. It may appear to deliver what it promises. There can be initial and even sustained pleasures and gratifications, but in the longer run there is NO happiness.
Second: Without God life is meaningless. With God, life can be meaningful. We need God if we are to experience a life that is good, true, and beautiful. As the author of Ecclesiastes writes in chapter after chapter, there is the discouragement of everything being meaningless. But there is a growing awakening to the necessity of God if we are to have a meaningful life. That is why we need God if we are to find happiness. One of the MAIN avenues for happiness is to know you are involved in a life rich in meaning and purpose. You need to know you are here for a purpose. You need to know you are centered in that purpose. You need to know God has a plan that includes you, and that you are working that plan.
One of the benefits of being involved at Living Word is that you are positioned to be a part of something that matters. When you begin to serve, help, give, support, and do the work of ministry around the church, you feel good. In fact, so many people tell us they feel great. They feel great because they are doing good stuff that blesses others and glorifies God.
We will have a Sunday message devoted to the theme of Real Meaning. We are here to help you find the best meaning and purpose that God has designed for you.
Blessings to all of you,
* Even though in Ecclesiastes 1:1 the author identifies himself as the son of David, King in Jerusalem, that is most likely a literary device to give more credibility to the content of the book. The reasons for this are complicated. Any good commentary will walk you through the options of authorship of Ecclesiastes.