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All is Vanity: Balance
· How to have VICTORY IN YOUR LIFE BALANCE.
· We can have VICTORY THROUGH PURPOSE.
Intro to Ecclesiastes:
Ecclesiastes begins by identifying itself as the “words of קֹהֶ֫לֶת (qoheleth)” (1:1). The term qoheleth does not occur outside of the book. It may be a participial form of the verb meaning “to assemble” (קֹהל, qohl) and thus refer to “one who leads an assembly.” This understanding has influenced the English translations of qoheleth as “the Preacher” (ESV) or “the Teacher” (NIV).
The Greek word Ekklesiastes – derived from ekklesia, ‘assembly, congregation, church, speaker before an assembly’
It is not fully known; however, it more than likely is Solomon’s words / teachings written by someone else.
The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. [Solomon]
If indeed Solomon – this is where he gets his wisdom and wealth
1 Kings 3:9-14
Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?”
10 It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this.
11 And God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right,
12 behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you.
13 I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days.
14 And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.”
Theme & Purpose of Ecclesiastes:
Ecclesiastes 1:2 & 12:8
Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
Vanity: Used over 30 times in Ecclesiastes
“Vanity” is hebel, which means “breath,” and is used metaphorically of anything transitory, frail, unsatisfying.
הֶבֶל n.m. “hevel” vapour, breath fig. vanity — 1. lit. Elsewhere always 2. fig. of what is evanschent, unsubstantial, worthless, vanity.
Elusive – can’t grasp. Like the wind / breath
“The only absolute knowledge attainable by man is that life is meaningless.” Leo Tolstoy
What is the MEANING OF LIFE?
Two things people will seek in life:
· Wisdom (purpose, direction, etc..) &
· How to Flourish
All is still vanity compared to the real purpose – to fear God…etc….
“Why’s” of the Faith: suffering, sickness, pain, death, loss, etc…
Trying to make sense of life.
· What is the Purpose of Life?
· Is this all there is?
· Is there an afterlife?
I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.
Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.
13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
What is the source of our satisfaction, where do we find purpose?
· Wisdom, work, pleasure, wealth, family…
When we lose joy and pleasure in those material goals life becomes meaningless.
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal,
20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.
21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Will we spend our life chasing after the wind or find true purpose and meaning in Christ?
Main Text: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7 a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.
1. Life: Pleasure and Pain Both Intersect
We have pain due to the fall of man. [explain origin of sin / consequences]
There is purpose behind the seasons of life.
We may not see the purpose now or may never see the purpose.
But God sees the purpose and is able to make it beautiful in His time.
9 What gain has the worker from his toil?
10 I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with.
11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.
Job 1:20-22 (// Ecc. 5:15)
20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped.
21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.
Turning your PAIN into PRAISE & PURPOSE (and a PLATFORM)
2. Life: God’s Gift to Us & Our Worship to God
· What is our sole purpose in life? Why were we created?
· To glorify, worship, and bring pleasure to God
· Life is precious and should be viewed as a gift!
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
3. Life: God’s Master Plan vs. Our “Master Plan”
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.
11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
God’s Ultimate Master Plan is Eternity! [lead to salvation call]
ref. Ecclesiastes 3:11b-e
Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.
20 All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return.
21 Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth?
22 So I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that is his lot. Who can bring him to see what will be after him?
For who knows what is good for man while he lives the few days of his vain life, which he passes like a shadow? For who can tell man what will be after him under the sun?
God is the only one that could fill that void of our soul longing for eternity. He has placed eternity in the hearts of every single person, and too many people are spending all their life trying to fill that with everything that the writer has just called vanity. We try to fill it with busyness and careers. We try to fill it with pleasure. We try to fill it with relationships. We try to fill it with ourself. And I'm just telling you at the end of the day, you will never, ever fill it. Only God can fill it.
Do we spend time thinking about eternity and where we or others will spend it?
SMALL GROUP QUESTIONS:
1. If everything is “vanity”, how have you balanced living, working, playing, with God’s purpose and plan for your life?
2. Which Existential Questions do you struggle most with and why?:
a. What is the Purpose of Life?
b. Is this all there is?
c. Is there an afterlife?
3. How have you been able to turn Pain into Purpose?
4. Why do you think people try and find purpose in what they can accomplish or create?
Endnotes / References:
 Miles Custis and James S. Reitman, “Ecclesiastes, Book of,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).  H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., Ecclesiastes, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 2.  Richard Whitaker et al., The Abridged Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew-English Lexicon of the Old Testament: From A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament by Francis Brown, S.R. Driver and Charles Briggs, Based on the Lexicon of Wilhelm Gesenius (Boston; New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1906).