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Seeking Purpose…Finding Futility Part 2: Caught in an Endless Cycle? Seeking Answers A Study in Ecclesiastes Lesson 12, January 11, 2012.

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Presentation on theme: "Seeking Purpose…Finding Futility Part 2: Caught in an Endless Cycle? Seeking Answers A Study in Ecclesiastes Lesson 12, January 11, 2012."— Presentation transcript:

1 Seeking Purpose…Finding Futility Part 2: Caught in an Endless Cycle? Seeking Answers A Study in Ecclesiastes Lesson 12, January 11, 2012

2 Todays Scripture Ecclesiastes 1: 1-6 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever. The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose. The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.

3 Todays Scripture Ecclesiastes 1:7-11 All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again. All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us. There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.

4 Thought for Today Solomon hammers home his theme vanity of vanities, all is vanity from the first of the book (1:2) to the last (12:8) until everything under the sun lies like a heap of dust before him. -- Paul Earnhart

5 The end of labor is to gain leisure. -- Aristotle -- ??????

6 "Solomon has put the key to Ecclesiastes right at the front door: 'Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labor which he taketh under the sun?' (1:2-3). Just in case we missed it, he put the same key at the back door (12:8). Thomas Constable, Notes on Ecclesiastes, 2010

7 The meaning and usage of the English word vanity which was translated from the Hebrew word hebel The meaning and usage of the word All To understand the message of Ecclesiastes, we must consider:

8 ... [the Holy Spirit] deliberately chose a word [the Hebrew word hebel] with a calculated ambiguity; [the Holy Spirit through Solomon] skillfully employed it in a variety of contexts so that several associated meanings could be communicated without the use of synonyms... For [Solomon] hebel is a neutral term expressing brilliantly in its figurative nuances, the limitations of human activity and human wisdom -- R. Cover, Vanity in Ecclesiastes, Th. M Thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1978, p.76.

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10 absurd/absurdity anxious breath-like devoid empty/emptiness enigmatic ephemeral fleeting foolishness/folly frailty fruitless futile impermanent insignificant intransigent joyless limited meaningless/meaninglessness nothingness obscure paradox perplexing pointless Profitless senseless substance-less transient transitory unbeneficial unfulfilling unknown unsatisfying uselessness valueless Vapor void worthless/worthlessness

11 abiding accomplished/accomplishment advantage (that which matters"; "that which counts) beneficial fulfilling gain good (more recently "point) joy known meaningful permanent profit/profitable (Hebrew word for profit = "left over) satisfying senseable significant strength substance tranquil useful valuable

12 Matthew 6:7 Matthew 16:26-27 Mark 7:7 Luke 12:15-28 John 3:8 Acts 4:25 Romans 1:21 Romans 8:20 1 Corinthians 1: Corinthians 3:20 Ephesians 4:17 Ephesians 5:6 1 Timothy 1:6 1 Timothy 6:20 2 Timothy 2:16 Titus 1:10 Titus 3:9 James 1:26 1 Peter 1:18 2 Peter 2:18

13 It must be emphasized that [Solomon] nowhere uses hebel pejoratively or with morally negative connotations. -- R. Cover, Vanity in Ecclesiastes, Th. M Thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1978, p.76.

14 Solomons observations and conclusions are limited in their scope to under the sun Solomons seemingly negative conclusions always grow out of observations of the senses (I saw…, I have seen, etc) Solomon never speaks of God, Gods work, Gods revelation, or man as Gods creature as being vanity Solomon commends some things as having merit in life under the sun such as the fear of God, enjoyment of life, and proper use of wisdom All in All is vanity… does not mean everything in the Universe:

15 The present order in Creation which causes him to perceive the vanity of life under the sun Solomon looks at two main areas of his observations and experiences with the vanity of existence:

16 Solomon observes the cycles in nature and concludes that the meaning to life cannot be found in the created order (1:5-8). Solomon looks at the present order in Creation and these observations cause him to perceive the vanity of life under the sun

17 Ecclesiastes 1: The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose. 6 The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits. 7 All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again. 8 All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. Solomon observes the cycles in nature and concludes that the meaning to life cannot be found in the created order

18 Solomon observes the cycles in nature and concludes that the meaning to life cannot be found in the created order (1:5-8). Solomon then looks at man for progress in history and technology as possibly giving the key to life, but concludes that any apparent progress is only illusionary, and that this does not hold the key to life (1:9-11). Solomon looks at the present order in Creation and these observations cause him to perceive the vanity of life under the sun

19 Ecclesiastes 1: The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. 10 Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us. 11 There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after. Solomon looks at the present order in Creation and these observations cause him to perceive the vanity of life under the sun Solomon then looks at man for progress in history and technology as possibly giving the key to life, but concludes that any apparent progress is only illusionary, and that this does not hold the key to life

20 Solomon observes the cycles in nature and concludes that the meaning to life cannot be found in the created order (1:5-8). Solomon then looks at man for progress in history and technology as possibly giving the key to life, but concludes that any apparent progress is only illusionary, and that this does not hold the key to life (1:9-11). Solomon ponders the fact that the righteous and the wicked both suffer the fate of death, and concludes that this is another example of vanity (8:14). Solomon looks at the present order in Creation and these observations cause him to perceive the vanity of life under the sun

21 Ecclesiastes 8:14 14 There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there be just men, unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again, there be wicked men, to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also is vanity. Solomon looks at the present order in Creation and these observations cause him to perceive the vanity of life under the sun Solomon ponders the fact that the righteous and the wicked both suffer the fate of death, and concludes that this is another example of vanity

22 Solomon observes the cycles in nature and concludes that the meaning to life cannot be found in the created order (1:5-8). Solomon then looks at man for progress in history and technology as possibly giving the key to life, but concludes that any apparent progress is only illusionary, and that this does not held the key to life (1:9-11). Solomon ponders the fact that the righteous and the wicked both suffer the fate of death, and concludes that this is another example of vanity (8:14). Solomon observes the common fate of man and beast as another example of vanity (3:19). Solomon looks at the present order in Creation and these observations cause him to perceive the vanity of life under the sun

23 Ecclesiastes 3: For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. 20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. 21 Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth? Solomon looks at the present order in Creation and these observations cause him to perceive the vanity of life under the sun Solomon observes the common fate of man and beast as another example of vanity

24 Solomon observes the cycles in nature and concludes that the meaning to life cannot be found in the created order (1:5-8). Solomon then looks at man for progress in history and technology as possibly giving the key to life, but concludes that any apparent progress is only illusionary, and that this does not held the key to life (1:9-11). Solomon ponders the fact that the righteous and the wicked both suffer the fate of death, and concludes that this is another example of vanity (8:14). Solomon observes the common fate of man and beast as another example of vanity (3:19). Solomon sees that the reordering of the present order is beyond mans control (1:15; 7:13). Solomon looks at the present order in Creation and these observations cause him to perceive the vanity of life under the sun

25 Ecclesiastes 1:15 15 That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered. Ecclesiastes 7:13 13 Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked? Solomon looks at the present order in Creation and these observations cause him to perceive the vanity of life under the sun Solomon sees that the reordering of the present order is beyond mans control

26 Solomon observes the cycles in nature and concludes that the meaning to life cannot be found in the created order (1:5-8). Solomon then looks at man for progress in history and technology as possibly giving the key to life, but concludes that any apparent progress is only illusionary, and that this does not held the key to life (1:9-11). Solomon ponders the fact that the righteous and the wicked both suffer the fate of death, and concludes that this is another example of vanity (2:14; 8:14). Solomon observes the common fate of man and beast as another example of vanity (3:19). Solomon sees that the reordering of the present order is beyond mans control (1:15; 7:13). Solomon sees prevalent injustice in the world as another example of vanity (3:16, 4:1; 5:8; 7:15). Solomon looks at the present order in Creation and these observations cause him to perceive the vanity of life under the sun

27 Ecclesiastes 3:16 16 And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there. Ecclesiastes 4:1 1 So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter. Ecclesiastes 5:8 8 If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for he that is higher than the highest regardeth; and there be higher than they. Solomon looks at the present order in Creation and these observations cause him to perceive the vanity of life under the sun Solomon sees prevalent injustice in the world as another example of vanity

28 Solomon observes the cycles in nature and concludes that the meaning to life cannot be found in the created order (1:5-8). Solomon then looks at man for progress in history and technology as possibly giving the key to life, but concludes that any apparent progress is only illusionary, and that this does not held the key to life (1:9-11). Solomon ponders the fact that the righteous and the wicked both suffer the fate of death, and concludes that this is another example of vanity (8:14). Solomon observes the common fate of man and beast as another example of vanity (3:19). Solomon sees that the reordering of the present order is beyond mans control (1:15; 7:13). Solomon sees prevalent injustice in the world as another example of vanity (3:16, 4:1; 5:8; 7:15). Solomon also sees the moral and social order overturned in his experience and concludes that this is vanity (8:14; 10:5-7). Solomon looks at the present order in Creation and these observations cause him to perceive the vanity of life under the sun

29 Ecclesiastes 8:14 14 There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there be just men, unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again, there be wicked men, to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also is vanity. Ecclesiastes 10:5-7 5 There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, as an error which proceedeth from the ruler: 6 Folly is set in great dignity, and the rich sit in low place. 7 I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon the earth. Solomon looks at the present order in Creation and these observations cause him to perceive the vanity of life under the sun Solomon also sees the moral and social order overturned in his experience and concludes that this is vanity

30 Solomon observes the cycles in nature and concludes that the meaning to life cannot be found in the created order (1:5-8). Solomon then looks at man for progress in history and technology as possibly giving the key to life, but concludes that any apparent progress is only illusionary, and that this does not held the key to life (1:9-11). Solomon ponders the fact that the righteous and the wicked both suffer the fate of death, and concludes that this is another example of vanity (8:14). Solomon observes the common fate of man and beast as another example of vanity (3:19). Solomon sees that the reordering of the present order is beyond mans control (1:15; 7:13). Solomon sees prevalent injustice in the world as another example of vanity (3:16, 4:1; 5:8; 7:15). Solomon also sees the moral and social order overturned in his experience and concludes that this is vanity (8:14). Solomon laments that the profit from his labor will be left to another and is hence vanity (2:18). Solomon looks at the present order in Creation and these observations cause him to perceive the vanity of life under the sun

31 Ecclesiastes 2: Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me: for all is vanity and vexation of spirit. 18 Yea, I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me. 19 And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? yet shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured, and wherein I have shewed myself wise under the sun. This is also vanity. Solomon looks at the present order in Creation and these observations cause him to perceive the vanity of life under the sun Solomon laments that the profit from his labor will be left to another and is hence vanity

32 Solomon observes the cycles in nature and concludes that the meaning to life cannot be found in the created order (1:5-8). Solomon then looks at man for progress in history and technology as possibly giving the key to life, but concludes that any apparent progress is only illusionary, and that this does not held the key to life (1:9-11). Solomon ponders the fact that the righteous and the wicked both suffer the fate of death, and concludes that this is another example of vanity (8:14). Solomon observes the common fate of man and beast as another example of vanity (3:19). Solomon sees that the reordering of the present order is beyond mans control (1:15; 7:13). Solomon sees prevalent injustice in the world as another example of vanity (3:16, 4:1; 5:8; 7:15). Solomon also sees the moral and social order overturned in his experience and concludes that this is vanity (8:14). Solomon laments that the profit from his labor will be left to another and is hence vanity (2:18). Solomon sees the fact that the future after death is unknown (11:8) Solomon looks at the present order in Creation and these observations cause him to perceive the vanity of life under the sun

33 Ecclesiastes 11:8 8 But if a man live many years, and rejoice in them all; yet let him remember the days of darkness; for they shall be many. All that cometh is vanity. Solomon looks at the present order in Creation and these observations cause him to perceive the vanity of life under the sun Solomon sees the fact that the future after death is unknown

34 The present order in Creation which causes him to perceive the vanity of life under the sun All human endeavors from which a man might try to find profit and good but which ultimately mock his attempts Solomon looks at two main areas of his observations and experiences with the vanity of existence:

35 Sensual gratification, while pleasing for the moment, yields no lasting benefit (2:3, 8, 11). The pleasure derived from the accomplishment of ambitious undertakings is only temporary (2:4-6, 11). The pleasure derived from great wealth brings no lasting satisfaction (4:4-10,11). The pleasure derived by fools is of the briefest nature (7:6). Pleasure is vanity since it yields no profit or advantage (2:11). Solomon concludes that pleasure- seeking in its various forms is vanity because it ultimately accomplishes nothing. Man should enjoy the fruit of his labor; it is Gods gift (2:24; 3:12-13; 5:18-19; 8:15) There is a time for mirth, enjoyment and every purpose under heaven (3:1-13) Yet the lawful fulfillment of needs and appetites are afforded man by God as a gift

36 Fame and power are fleeting only to be grasped during a kings lifetime (4:13-16) Those who come after will not remember or revere him for his power and fame – they are fickle Solomon concludes that power and fame are vanity since they are short- lived. Keep the kings commandments (8:2-5) since civil order is necessary for society Speak nothing evil of the king or those in authority so that your thought does not get back to them and you suffer the consequences of your words (10:20) Yet Solomon gives advice as to how to treat a person of power and authority in order to deal with them wisely

37 Labor is vanity because it is motivated by the competitive desire of one man to get ahead of another. In trying to outstrip ones neighbor, one forfeits rest and enjoyment of life (4:4-6). Labor is vanity because it is motivated by greed. A rich man continues to amass riches with no thought as to the reason why and consequently deprives himself of the enjoyment of them (4:8). The result of labor does not yield satisfaction, but days filled with pain and nights without sleep, due to worry (2:23; 2:11), and is hence vanity. The fruit of a mans labor cannot be enjoyed by him but must rather be left to another who did not labor for them and who may be undeserving. Hence, labor is vanity (2:18, 21). Solomon concludes that all mans labor is vanity because it is motivated by greed, does not yield happiness, and is impermanent. Man should enjoy the fruit of his labor; it is Gods gift (2:24; 3:12-13; 5:18-19; 8:15) A minimum of effort to meet lifes basic needs is superior to advancement through labor (4:4-6). Yet Solomon does see that mans labor has some benefits

38 Wealth is vanity because it brings anxiety rather than fulfillment (5:10-11). Wealth is vanity because it can be easily lost through a rash vow, through oppression or through a bad investment (5:1-6, 5:8-9, 5:14). Wealth is vanity because rather than give satisfaction, it demands increased vigilance to keep it (5:12). Wealth is vanity because it brings misery (5:6). Wealth is vanity because a man may not enjoy it (2:26, 4:8). Wealth is vanity because it does not satisfy (5:9). Solomon concludes that wealth is vanity because it does not satisfy nor bring enjoyment, but rather brings anxiety Man should enjoy his prosperity as the fruit of his labor; it is Gods gift (2:24; 3:12-13; 5:18-19; 8:15) Yet man can and should enjoy the prosperity that God affords him

39 Wisdoms pursuit yields grief and is thus vanity (1:18). Wisdom is vanity because its advantages are seen in this life only (2:15). Wisdom doesnt guarantee success since its advantage can be vitiated by various means. It is thus vanity (10:10). Wisdoms advantage can be thwarted by unpredicted misfortune (9:11). Wisdoms advantage can be thwarted by sin and folly (9:18, 10:5-7). Wisdoms advantage can be thwarted by improper timing (10:8-11). Solomon concludes that wisdom is vanity since, rather than give meaning to life, it gives only a temporary advantage. Wisdom is superior to folly since it illumines a man (2:14, cf. 8:1). Wisdom is superior to strength in that it can bring victory even against seemingly impossible odds (9:16-18). Wisdom is superior to fame because fame is so fleeting (4:10-14). Wisdom has an advantage in averting calamity (9:14-18, 8:1-9). Wisdom has an advantage as a protection and in preserving life (7:12). Yet wisdom is not valueless. It has great relative advantage in this life.

40 A Summary: 1.Solomons theme for the book of Ecclesiastes is stated with its scope and limitation to mans endeavors (v 2-3) 2.Mans transitory nature is in sharp contrast with the abiding nature of inanimate Creation (v 4) 3.There is much motion with no seeming progress (v 5-7) 4.Nothing in life under the sun satisfies man (v 8) 5.There is nothing new under the sun (v 9-10) 6.Man will pass from the Earth and be forgotten (v 11)


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