Sunday, February 11, 2007

Meaning IN Life (part 2)

[Note: For the first segment in this series called, "Searching For Heaven On Earth," go here for the outline. You can look up the verses in the outline and get an idea of why Ecclessiastes 1:1-11 discusses "The Futility of Life."]

SEARCHING FOR HEAVEN ON EARTH
Dr. David Jeremiah

“Sorting Out Your Life”
Ecclesiastes 1:12 - 2:26

February 11, 2007

“vanity”-emptiness or without meaning
“under the sun”- the context for Solomon’s research
“profit”-what is left over

I. The Experiences of Life Under the Sun – Ecclesiastes 1:12 - 2:10

A. Searching for Meaning in Wisdom
Ecclesiastes 1:12-18







Ecc 1:12 I, the Preacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem.

Ecc 1:13 And I set my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under heaven; this burdensome task God has given to the sons of man, by which they may be exercised.

Ecc 1:14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind.

Ecc 1:15 What is crooked cannot be made straight,
And what is lacking cannot be numbered.

Ecc 1:16 I communed with my heart, saying, "Look, I have attained greatness, and have gained more wisdom than all who were before me in Jerusalem. My heart has understood great wisdom and knowledge."

Ecc 1:17 And I set my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is grasping for the wind.

Ecc 1:18 For in much wisdom is much grief,
And he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.


Dr. Jeremiah shared a bit about a phenomenol student named Karen Chang. She lives in Fremont, CA and had a perfect score on the SAT's. She was a straight A student and a typical teen. However, she admits that she can be a bit of a procrastinator. Her teachers nick-named her "wonder woman."

Here was a young teen girl who held such a marvelous ability to gain knowledge and retain it. However, when a reporter asked her, "What is the meaning of life?" she answered, "I have no idea. I'd like to know that for myself."

In his poem, Choruses from The Rock (1934), T.S. Eliot states:







"All our knowledge brings us nearer to death,
But nearness to death no nearer to God."


Here's the first stanza, so you can better see the context of the quote:







The Eagle soars in the summit of Heaven,
The Hunter with his dogs pursues his circuit.
O world of spring and autumn, birth and dying!
The endless cycle of idea and action,
Endless invention, endless experiment,
Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness;
Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;
Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word.
All our knowledge brings us nearer to death,
But nearness to death no nearer to God.
Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

The cycles of Heaven in twenty centuries
Brings us farther from God and nearer to the Dust.


Sounds like he got his inspiration from Solomon!







Ecc 1:17 And I set my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is grasping for the wind.

Ecc 1:18 For in much wisdom is much grief,
And he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.


If education alone could bring meaning, then every person with a PhD would be happy!

Trouble is, smarter people with a sinful nature are those who learn to do evil in a new way.


B. Searching for Meaning in Wild Living
Ecclesiastes 2:1-3







Ecc 2:1
I said in my heart, "Come now, I will test you with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure"; but surely, this also was vanity.

Ecc 2:2
I said of laughter--"Madness!"; and of mirth, "What does it accomplish?"

Ecc 2:3
I searched in my heart how to gratify my flesh with wine, while guiding my heart with wisdom, and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the sons of men to do under heaven all the days of their lives.


Notice how Solomon tried amusement, mirth, pleasure, laughter, wine and madness. Such things failed to bring him happiness.

1. He tried amusement






Proverbs 14:13 - Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth [is] heaviness.


Perhaps we could visualize Solomon's palace like a casino, today, in Las Vegas.


2. He tried alcohol






Ecclesiastes 2:3 - I sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine, yet acquainting mine heart with wisdom; and to lay hold on folly, till I might see what [was] that good for the sons of men, which they should do under the heaven all the days of their life.



C. Searching for Meaning in Work

Ecclesiastes 2:4-6






Ecc 2:4 I made my works great, I built myself houses, and planted myself vineyards.

Ecc 2:5 I made myself gardens and orchards, and I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them.

Ecc 2:6 I made myself water pools from which to water the growing trees of the grove.


In those previous verses, Solomon said "my" or "myself" six times. It didn't do anything for him.

Why was this so? There was no permanent meaning in the accomplishment unless it's after God!

The key is to not make them (accomplishments) the ultimate goal. It won't fill the longing of your soul. Such a longing can only be filled by God.

Look at the life of Ernest Hemingway. After "having it all" he chose to end his life via suicide. He is quoted as having said, "Life is just one damn thing after another."

Seeking meaning in the three ways described above (in knowledge, wild living, or work) alone is empty. What happens is, people are trying to get more out of them than they can deliver!

D. Searching for Meaning in Wealth

Ecclesiastes 2:7-10






Ecc 2:7 I acquired male and female servants, and had servants born in my house. Yes, I had greater possessions of herds and flocks than all who were in Jerusalem before me.

Ecc 2:8 I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the special treasures of kings and of the provinces. I acquired male and female singers, the delights of the sons of men, and musical instruments* of all kinds.

Ecc 2:9 So I became great and excelled more than all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me.

Ecc 2:10 Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them.
I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure,
For my heart rejoiced in all my labor;
And this was my reward from all my labor.

Ecc 2:11 Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done
And on the labor in which I had toiled;
And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind.
There was no profit under the sun


Dr. Jeremiah desired to express how rich Solomon really was. Take a look at






1 Kings 10:14 -
Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred threescore and six talents of gold,


The amount of gold that Solomon had was probably valued at 25 million dollars in the days of Solomon. There was gold everywhere! All the drinking vessels were gold. No second place silver in that household! It's nothing compared to the value of gold. Solomons palace was filled with the best of everything; precious stones, exotic spices, gorgeous clothes, the best of foods.






Ecc 2:9 So I became great and excelled more than all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me.


He had it all! Yet, it didn't bring true meaning and joy to life!

Johnnie Cochran had a saying, "The only value of money is so you don't have to worry about being poor."

But look at Ecc. 2:10-11






Ecc 2:10 Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them.
I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure,
For my heart rejoiced in all my labor;
And this was my reward from all my labor.

Ecc 2:11 Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done
And on the labor in which I had toiled;
And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind.
There was no profit under the sun.



II. The Evaluation of Life Under the Sun – Ecclesiastes 2:11-23

A. Man's Work Does Not Satisfy Him
Ecclesiastes 2:11-12






Ecc 2:11

Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done
And on the labor in which I had toiled;
And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind.
There was no profit under the sun.

Ecc 2:12
Then I turned myself to consider wisdom and madness and folly;
For what can the man do who succeeds the king?--
Only what he has already done.


B. Man's Work Does Not Separate Him

Ecclesiastes 2:13-16





Ecc 2:13 Then I saw that wisdom excels folly
As light excels darkness.

Ecc 2:14 The wise man's eyes are in his head,
But the fool walks in darkness.
Yet I myself perceived
That the same event happens to them all.

Ecc 2:15 So I said in my heart,
"As it happens to the fool,
It also happens to me,
And why was I then more wise?"
Then I said in my heart,
"This also is vanity."

Ecc 2:16 For there is no more remembrance of the wise than of the fool forever,
Since all that now is will be forgotten in the days to come.
And how does a wise man die?
As the fool!


What has Solomon learned? That all of this doesn't fill the void in his life. He ends up empty. The reason? We are not created that way! The one avenue that gives us pure joy and fulfill is that which leads to God!





Ecc 2:17 Therefore I hated life because the work that was done under the sun was distressing to me, for all is vanity and grasping for the wind.



C. Man's Work Does Not Succeed Him

Ecclesiastes 2:18-23





Ecc 2:18 Then I hated all my labor in which I had toiled under the sun, because I must leave it to the man who will come after me.

Ecc 2:19 And who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will rule over all my labor in which I toiled and in which I have shown myself wise under the sun. This also is vanity.

Ecc 2:20 Therefore I turned my heart and despaired of all the labor in which I had toiled under the sun.

Ecc 2:21 For there is a man whose labor is with wisdom, knowledge, and skill; yet he must leave his heritage to a man who has not labored for it. This also is vanity and a great evil.

Ecc 2:22 For what has man for all his labor, and for the striving of his heart with which he has toiled under the sun?

Ecc 2:23 For all his days are sorrowful, and his work burdensome; even in the night his heart takes no rest. This also is vanity.


[Note: Depressed yet? It will be O.K.! Just keep reading! Relief is in sight...in the very next paragraph!]

What is Solomon's message to us all? What is the point of relaying all this depressing non-fulfillment information to us? Are you thinking...but I am enjoying my life, these things, my work, my wild life, my _______(fill in the blank)!

The crux of the matter is this:

If all you see is "under the sun" then there is no difference between the wise and the fool! The end result is that they are the same and it doesn't make a difference.

Except! (you knew that was coming....)

Except when you look at eternity!!!

Here's a simple illustration: Do you ever see a hearse pulling a U-Haul?

Of course not!


We have to get through all of this "bad news" to get to the Good News! What is meant in this portion of Scripture, is that you may build what you want, save what you want; but one day you won't be able to manage it.

So, what is the eternal meaning in the accomplishments in life?

We need to step back and get perspective. If we use only our 5 senses, we feel ultimate despair, discouragement and disappointment. Colossians 3:2 tells us the better way:

"Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth."

What is the relief from "days that are sorrowful," "work that is burdensome," and the "heart taking no rest?"

Knowing the difference between vanity and the value of eternity!

That verse is worth repeating:

Colossians 3:2 - Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

Now wait, it doesn't end there.

(Remember in my hints in the previous post where I stated, "2. ...has both a humorous meaning, and a more serious one, implying that the answer is to enjoy the ride."?)

Don't stop reading now...the next part is really great...I promise!!


III. The Enjoyment of Life Under the Sun – Ecclesiastes 2:24-26

A. True Enjoyment Is a Gift from God
Ecclesiastes 2:24-25



Ecc 2:24 Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God.

Ecc 2:25 For who can eat, or who can have enjoyment, more than I?*

*2:25 Following Masoretic Text, Targum, and Vulgate; some Hebrew manuscripts, Septuagint, and Syriac read without Him


Ecclesiastes is not a morbid book, it is an exciting book! It's not a message to just "check out."

It encourages us to get our heads straight and realize that everything we have is given by God! When we know this...really and truly believe and know this, then we experience the real thing - true joy. That's the gift from God that we receive that allows everything to make sense!

The gifts that we receive here, while on this earth are not the ultimate. Think of them as just a "down payment" to what He has prepared for us in eternity!

True joy - when we realize it- is a gift from the Lord!

God isn't a kill-joy.

As Jesus said in Jhn 10:10 - "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have [it] more abundantly."

But the Bible is filled with admonitions not to seek joy over there (where the thief resides).

Why?

Because you will miss it!

You will miss the true joy!

That personal, intimate joy!

When we have the joy that God brings- then we can enjoy the things he gave us!

We need to keep God in our "portfolio," so to speak!

Think of it this way. We are to hold all that we have in an open hand. If you close your hand - God can't bless you!



1 Timothy 6:17
Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;


Ecclesiastes 2:25

For who can eat, or who else can hasten [hereunto], more than I?*

*meaning: without Him!

The problem with finding meaning in pleasure is that you have to increase the intensity to get the same "buzz."

Look at how some choose to seek pleasure:

Alcohol
Smoking
Drugs
Gambling
Illicit Sex
Pornography

Isn't it true that the more you seek pleasure in these things the more addictive they can become? They are traps in the hand of the Enemy of our souls...and he know it!

But note this well.

We NEVER have to worry about the intensity of pleasure that God gives!!

People often say, "never say never." But in this case it's biblical!!

This is where the third hint that I had previously given in the first post comes in:

3. The only time to do something when it feels good is if it feels good to God!

Remember the movie, "Chariots of Fire?" The Christian preacher who ran in the Olympics stated, "When I run, I feel His (God's) pleasure." It's just one tiny illustration of what it means to do something that you enjoy, while at the same time, it is pleasing to God, too!


B. True Enlightenment Is a Gift from God



Ecclesiastes 2:26

For [God] giveth to a man that [is] good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner he giveth travail, to gather and to heap up, that he may give to [him that is] good before God. This also [is] vanity and vexation of spirit.


The enlightenment that I have personally received through knowing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and through studying His Word, the Bible has given me the greatest joy in my life...especially when shared with family and friends!

Dr. Jeremiah shared some examples.

Do you live in a beautiful house? Don't horde it! Use that gift to share God with others through conducting Bible studies or any activity where you can show others the joy of the Lord!

A person once asked Dr. Jeremiah, "if I win the lottery, should I give it to God?" Jeremiah replied, "you shouldn't be playing in the first place; however, if you ever do win give it ALL to God...the devil has had it long enough! Amen?"

Let's end with a beautiful promise verse:



Isaiah 55:1-3



Isa 55:1 "HO! Everyone who thirsts,


Come to the waters;
And you who have no money,
Come, buy and eat.
Yes, come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without price.

Isa 55:2 Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And let your soul delight itself in abundance.

Isa 55:3 Incline your ear, and come to Me.
Hear, and your soul shall live;
And I will make an everlasting covenant with you--
The sure mercies of David.


That's a great invitation, isn't it?


Rom 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:


Eph 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,


Eph 2:5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)


Eph 2:6 And hath raised [us] up together, and made [us] sit together in heavenly [places] in Christ Jesus:


Eph 2:7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.


Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God:

1. "Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever".

Amen!

2 comments:

Christinewjc said...

I know...I can't believe I posted the whole thing today!

sushil yadav said...

The link between Mind and Social / Environmental-Issues.

The fast-paced, consumerist lifestyle of Industrial Society is causing exponential rise in psychological problems besides destroying the environment. All issues are interlinked. Our Minds cannot be peaceful when attention-spans are down to nanoseconds, microseconds and milliseconds. Our Minds cannot be peaceful if we destroy Nature.

Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment.

Subject : In a fast society slow emotions become extinct.
Subject : A thinking mind cannot feel.
Subject : Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys the planet.


Emotion is what we experience during gaps in our thinking.

If there are no gaps there is no emotion.

Today people are thinking all the time and are mistaking thought (words/ language) for emotion.


When society switches-over from physical work (agriculture) to mental work (scientific/ industrial/ financial/ fast visuals/ fast words ) the speed of thinking keeps on accelerating and the gaps between thinking go on decreasing.

There comes a time when there are almost no gaps.

People become incapable of experiencing/ tolerating gaps.

Emotion ends.

Man becomes machine.



A society that speeds up mentally experiences every mental slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

A ( travelling )society that speeds up physically experiences every physical slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

A society that entertains itself daily experiences every non-entertaining moment as Depression / Anxiety.



Fast visuals/ words make slow emotions extinct.

Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys emotional circuits.

A fast (large) society cannot feel pain / remorse / empathy.

A fast (large) society will always be cruel to Animals/ Trees/ Air/ Water/ Land and to Itself.



To read the complete article please follow either of these links :

PlanetSave

EarthNewsWire

sushil_yadav