(Part 2 of 3)
The book of Ecclesiastes is a classic textbook that describes the actions of the natural man. This book reveals the vanities of the natural man. The word “vanity” means “emptiness, uselessness, worthlessness, and shallowness.” All of this is accompanied by pride, conceit, self-love, self-praise, and narcissism (an excessive love for oneself). Ecclesiastes shows that anyone who is governed by sensual desires will find life to be empty. The greatest emptiness in life is being alone and apart from God. Living apart from God brings weariness, disappointments, and depression. Solomon ends this book with the words (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14), “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (KJV). The word “commandments” refers to God’s rules of conduct for successful living. Solomon writes of the natural man at his best–he has it all, he has seen it all, and he has done it all–and his final confession is, “apart from God, life is full of failure and pessimism.” Solomon was in a position to satisfy his every desire, and he made an effort to do so materially, sensually, emotionally, and intellectually. He soon discovered that without God in his life “all things under the sun” did not lead to fulfillment. Only God can fill the emptiness in a human life. Are you empty? Solomon soon learned the uselessness of living for any other purpose than for the glory of God. He learned by experience what a poor bargain it was to gain the whole world only to lose your soul. Solomon was favored with unlimited wealth and power, and he tested all that the world had to offer. He had the finest education, he had wisdom and understanding, he was very rich, he had hosts of servants, his appetite for carnal pleasure had no restrictions, and his building projects were enormous; yet in the end, it was all “vanity,” emptiness.
What kind of man is the natural man? The ten vanities…
Ecclesiastes 2:12-16… The vanity of human wisdom apart from God… Solomon lived under his own control and away from God’s control. He soon learned that it is useless to resist the will of God. He learned that the wise and the foolish have the same end: death. With all his wisdom he could not stop death. Death is no respecter of persons; it does not recognize the excellence nor the work of wisdom.
Ecclesiastes 2:17-24… The vanity of human labor apart from God… In the end, a worker (workaholic) is no better than a shirker. Both are full of sorrows, vexations, without joy, and lots of worries in the night without rest. God has no place in much of today’s labor.
Ecclesiastes 2:26… The vanity of human purposes apart from God’s purposes… Someone has said, “Man proposes, but God disposes.” It is God who governs the world. What you store up for your pleasure is not permanent. Human purposes fail in the end. 1 John 2:17 says, “The world and all its passionate desires will one day disappear. But the man who is following God’s will is part of the permanent and cannot die” (Phillips).
Ecclesiastes 4:4-8a… The vanity of human rivalry (competition) apart from God… These verses teach that a lot of success also brings envy and jealousy from others. Winners are often alone and isolated. They compete and work hard for crowd approval and fame, but within there is vanity or emptiness and restlessness. The missing companion is Jesus Christ.
Ecclesiastes 4:8… The vanity of human desires (avarice) apart from God… This means having a lust for “more.” And when one gets “more,” his soul is pierced with travail. Paul teaches in 1 Timothy 6:9-11… “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness” (KJV).
Ecclesiastes 4:16… The vanity of human fame apart from God… It is fleeting, it is brief, and it is uncertain… and in the end you are soon forgotten by the next generation.
(To be continued…)
Pastor George Belobaba
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