Ecclesiastes 1:1-2:23; 2 Corinthians 6:1-2; Psalms 46:8-11; Proverbs 14:22-24
OT: “The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem. “Absolute futility,” says the Teacher. “Absolute futility. Everything is futile.” What does a person gain for all his efforts that he labors at under the sun?” (Ecclesiastes 1:1-3 CSB)
The authorship of the book of Ecclesiastes is widely and traditionally attributed to King Solomon. It was written near the end of his life. To understand Ecclesiastes, it helps to be familiar with King Solomon’s life. King Solomon’s reign succeeded the reign of King David. His kingship over the united kingdom of Israel began well. His father, King David had been successful in defeating all of Israel’s enemies and ushered in an era of peace and abundance. Solomon’s heart was humble and submitted wholly to God. When God told Solomon to ask Him for whatever he wanted, Solomon humbly asked for wisdom to lead the nation righteously and justly. Because Solomon did not ask for wealth and power, God honored Solomon’s request and gave him wisdom, and also said He would give Solomon wealth and power as well. By God’s grace and blessing, Solomon became the wisest, wealthiest, most powerful, and most renowned ruler of his time. In time, however, Solomon drifted away from his devotion to the Lord. The worries of this age and the deceitfulness of wealth choked out the word that had been implanted in his heart. Instead of pursuing God, Solomon gave himself over to hedonism and the pursuit of worldly pleasures. Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon after years and years of chasing after meaning and pleasure in the things of this world.
The conclusion that Solomon came to after trying to find purpose in life “under the sun” is that everything is futile. The Hebrew word translated as futile means completely empty and vain – vanishing away into nothingness, like vapor. Blaise Pascal, the French mathematician and philosopher once said, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God the Creator, made known through Jesus Christ.” When Solomon ceased pursuing the Lord and His purposes, his life became empty, and he tried filling the emptiness in his soul with the emptiness of this world. No matter how hard he tried, his emptiness could not be filled and all of his efforts under the sun were completely futile.
NT: “Working together with him, we also appeal to you, “Don’t receive the grace of God in vain.” For he says: At an acceptable time I listened to you, and in the day of salvation I helped you. See, now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation!” (2 Corinthians 6:1-2 CSB)
One thing that is not empty and futile is the grace of God. The grace of God is full of life, power, meaning and purpose. It is the grace of God from above that we receive by faith in Christ that can fill up our emptiness and give our life meaning and purpose under the sun. As Blaise Pascal suggested, nothing from this world can satisfy the void in our soul, but grace from God through Christ can. And God’s grace through Jesus has been freely offered to anyone who believes the message of the gospel and puts their faith in the life, death and resurrection of Christ. Though the grace of God is anything but empty and futile, we can make Christ’s work for us in vain by rejecting the gospel and refusing His grace. God the Creator and the Lord Jesus Christ want your life to have eternal significance, purpose and meaning – so They, along with the redeemed saints in the Lord, plead with you to not make God’s grace a vain thing. Salvation from sin and salvation from an empty and meaningless life is offered to you now. You don’t have to wait. You can be saved from sin and given abundant eternal life by repenting of your sin and empty works and placing your faith in Jesus Christ.
Psalms: “Come, see the works of the Lord, who brings devastation on the earth. He makes wars cease throughout the earth. He shatters bows and cuts spears to pieces; he sets wagons ablaze. “Stop fighting, and know that I am God, exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth.” The Lord of Armies is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah” (Psalms 46:8-11 CSB)
God is our refuge. God is our strength. God is our never-ending abundant source of life. He is our Creator, and our lives only have meaning and purpose when stop pursuing our own ways and submit fully to His word, will and ways. To find peace, joy, satisfaction, meaning and purpose, stop your vain efforts under the sun. As the Lord said through the psalmist, “Stop fighting, and know that I am God, exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth.”
Prayer: Lord, here on earth in this life under the sun, there are so many empty things that claim to bring happiness, satisfaction, significance and meaning. However, Your word teaches that true happiness, satisfaction, eternal significance and meaning will only fill my life when I choose to live my life under the Son. I don’t want Your grace to be offered to me in vain, so I fully submit my life to You as my Lord and King. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.