Living for Something Greater

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Sun, Oct 17, 2021

Teacher: Yale Wall Series: Everything is Meaningless Scripture: Ecclesiastes 1:1-11 & Ecclesiastes 12:9-14

OCTOBER 17, 2021

Everything is Meaningless

LIVING FOR SOMETHING GREATER


ABOUT ECCLESIASTES

Ecclesiastes 1:1-2
1 The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem:
2 “Meaningless! Meaningless!”
    says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
    Everything is meaningless.”

From the way it’s written, we see that the author writing the actual words down, is a different person than the “teacher” spoken about in verse 1.

Ecclesiastes 12:9-14
9 Not only was the Teacher wise, but he also imparted knowledge to the people. He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs. 10 The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true.

11 The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one shepherd. 12 Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them.

Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.

13 Now all has been heard;
    here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
    for this is the duty of all mankind.
14 For God will bring every deed into judgment,
    including every hidden thing,
    whether it is good or evil.

The author is anonymous, and most theologians agree that the teacher is David’s son, Solomon.

Solomon is attributed with writing Proverbs, Song of Songs, and Ecclesiastes.



EVERYTHING IS MEANINGLESS

Ecclesiastes 1:1-11
1 The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem:
2 “Meaningless! Meaningless!”
    says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
    Everything is meaningless.”

3 What do people gain from all their labors
    at which they toil under the sun?
4 Generations come and generations go,
    but the earth remains forever.
5 The sun rises and the sun sets,
    and hurries back to where it rises.
6 The wind blows to the south
    and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
    ever returning on its course.
7 All streams flow into the sea,
    yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
    there they return again.
8 All things are wearisome,
    more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
    nor the ear its fill of hearing.
9 What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one can say,
    “Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
    it was here before our time.
11 No one remembers the former generations,
    and even those yet to come
will not be remembered
    by those who follow them.

Existential Crisis - a psychological episode in which a person questions the meaning of their life and of existence itself.

 

Solomon had everytyhing, and when he looked at his life, and he looked at everything in the world around him, he had what I would call an Existential Crisis.

He questioned everything he knew, and he came to this conclusion:


Ecclesiastes 1:1-2
1 The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem:
2 “Meaningless! Meaningless!”
    says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
    Everything is meaningless.”



The word “meaningless” in Hebrew is Hebel (הֶבֶל)

Like the rest of the Old Testament, Ecclesiastes is written in Hebrew and we translate it into English.  Oftentimes, things get lost in translation. Hebel can translate to "meaningless," but a better translation for Hebel is “vapor,” “mist,” or “breath.”

Solomon realized that the world around him is temporary, and it’s all fading away like a vapor.

This world is worth living IN
What’s worthless is Living FOR this world

It’s a VAPOR.
It’s a MIST.

This Habel, this "meaningless" world, this vapor of an existence serves to make the presence of God visible. This world is not pointless, but in the grand scheme of things, it is meaningless when we look at the breadth of eternity.

 



As we look at all of the topics of Ecclesiastes through the lens of Solomon, he answers the questions:
- Are these things in the world worth everything to us?
- How do we see the outline of God in the vapor?

 



WISDOM IS MEANINGLESS

Ecclesiastes 1:12-18
12 I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens. What a heavy burden God has laid on mankind! 14 I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

15 What is crooked cannot be straightened;
    what is lacking cannot be counted.

16 I said to myself, “Look, I have increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.

18 For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;
    the more knowledge, the more grief.


The very thing that defined Solomon was the thing that he came to realize just brought him grief.

 

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