Sermons & Sunday Schools

Introduction to Ecclesiastes: How to Live Life Well in a Vaporous World

In this sermon, Pastor Dave Capoccia introduces the book of Ecclesiastes and explains its main message: life is a vapor, but embrace it is a gift and not as gain.

Full Transcript:

Something I’ve been wanting to do since graduating from seminary is to go through a book of the Bible with you verse by verse. That is actually our practice here at Calvary though Pastor Babij and I like to preach topical expositions, especially in the summer. We parachute into the passage, give the context, give the message, and get right back out.

Those are helpful but the Bible was really written in a way for us to follow the ideas from beginning to end, especially in a particular book. The author is giving you the context and background which will inform the different teachings that are there throughout the book. There is a value in going through verse by verse not just in preaching but also in personal Bible study.

You know that Pastor Babij went recently through 1 Peter and now 2 Peter. I wanted to compliment him by going through an Old Testament book of the Bible. I would like to introduce you to a book that I will be coming back to as the Lord gives me further opportunity to preach. I went through this book a lot in seminary and I pray that this would become a benefit to us all. Let me pray now before the Lord.

Heavenly Father, we need to hear Your Word today as our food. Help me to be able to speak it and explain it. Fill me with Your power, Lord, and work in the hearts of Your people to be encouraged, convicted and transformed so that they will walk in Your Word. Bless this time and speak to us, Lord. I pray this in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Please take your Bibles and turn to Ecclesiastes. It’s in the Old Testament right after Psalms and Proverbs. This has become one of my favorite books, which may seem strange to you. Ecclesiastes doesn’t always have the best reputation among the other books of the Bible. Some look at Ecclesiastes as bitter medicine: it’s good for you but not really present. Ecclesiastes is the book that depresses you about life, and some may not lookin forward to reading it.

Some may look at Ecclesiastes as an embarrassing family member, like a rebellious teenager that we hide away and ignore. “Oooh, isn’t Ecclesiastes that angsty book that talks about how everything in life is meaningless and vain? Let’s talk about Ephesians which has the blessings and armor of God, and salvation in Christ! That’s a lot more exciting.” Nothing against Ephesians, by the way.

Still others look at Ecclesiastes as a frustrating enigma. It says on the one hand that the pursuit of wisdom, pleasure, or work is totally vain. But on the other hand it commands those same aspects of life: wisdom, pleasure, and work as good and gifts from God to be enjoyed. What’s going on? Is the writer schizophrenic? Is he somehow disheartened and disillusioned? What do we do with this book?

I think these perspectives on Ecclesiastes ultimately come from a misunderstanding of the book and the author’s message. Ecclesiastes is unique among the Bible books but it doesn’t contradict the other books. It is an important compliment to them. Really, Ecclesiastes is a book that once you really get to know, is not a book that should make you sigh but make you smile. In fact, that’s what the author himself says. Get towards the end of Ecclesiastes and the author talks about his words like they are goads. They do prick you a little but the writer has sought to use delightful words full of truth.

Ultimately Ecclesiastes is supposed to be a delight. I’ve entitled my message today, Introduction to Ecclesiastes: How to live life well in a vaporous world. That really is the question that Ecclesiastes seeks to answer. The answer is not as simple as just following God and everything will become understandable, enjoyable, and easy. Christians live in a broken world, just as much as other people do. We Christians need to learn how to face life in a way that we can live life well. This morning, I want to consider three introductory elements to help us appreciate what’s to come in Ecclesiastes. First, the author. Second, the occasion. And third, the message.

To do this we are just going to focus on the first two verses of Ecclesiastes. But we will also sample a number of other verses throughout the book. Look at Ecclesiastes 1:1:

The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

Notice here that our author first identifies himself as a teacher, someone who has something important to say. He also calls himself the son of David. This could refer to a direct descendant or a more distant relative. But we are not talking about just any old son or descendant because the last phrase is king. So this is a son who actually ruled and reigned as king over Israel from its capital. But which ruling son of David wrote this book? We get more details about our author as we proceed.

If you look at the beginning of Ecclesiastes 1:12-2:17, you will see that the author excelled all before him in wisdom and in greatness. He was able to accomplish whatever he wanted and to enjoy all the pleasures that came with being a majestic individual. Our author also tells us that he looks back on his life pursuits without regret and some disillusionment. Ecclesiastes 12:9 says:

In addition to being a wise man, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge; and he pondered, searched out and arranged many proverbs.

Considering all these details, there is only one ruling son of David that fits as the author of this book: King Solomon. The name does not appear anywhere in the book but that has long been the consensus. Do you remember King Solomon who we read about it in 1 Kings. He was the direct son of righteous King David and chosen by David and God to succeed David as king over the united kingdom. He was the greatest king in all of Israel’s history.

He was also someone who genuinely loved God and had his heart after God’s own heart. He humbled himself before God and asked for wisdom in governing God’s people rightly and God gave Solomon this wisdom and greatly blessed him. Solomon’s reign in Israel was a golden age of prosperity. His wisdom was world famous and his influence in terms of political dominion was across the Middle East.

No king in Israel was as great or blessed as Solomon was. Yet we are told in 1 Kings that as Solomon got older, his many idolatrous wives turned his heart away from Yahweh to serve many other gods and the treasures of the world. God confronted and chastised Solomon for this unfaithfulness. He even took away the majority f Solomon’s kingdom in the days of Solomon’s son. This is the one who speaks to us from this book.

Solomon the great, wise, righteous, compromised, and chastised. He speaks to us near the end of his life looking back on his experiences and all he has learned and known. He is seeing both God’s blessing and discipline. He urges us to listen to this painfully learned wisdom that we need for our lives.

I should not mention that not everybody thinks that Solomon is the author of this book. More modern thinks have different ideas and some say that the author just pretends to be Solomon and is just speaking poetically. Or that this book has two authors: a cynical king like and another pious teacher that adds his own teaching on top of it and redirects that cynical perspective.

These more modern views are needlessly speculative and ignore what the author actually says about himself in the book. Moreover, they also come from a misunderstanding of what appear to be a two contradictory ideas in the book that actually fit together to form one message. The truth is the God’s Spirit moved Solomon to write these words for his own people and for us today.

So we must listen and give heed to it. But what was the occasion for Solomon’s writing this? We move to our second point: occasion. Notice again verse 1, it says:

The words of the Preacher.

The Hebrew word for preacher is the word kohaleth. It’s a term that shares a root with another Hebrew word, kahal. Kahal refers most basically to an assembly, a gathered group of people. An a kohaleth is a leader or speaker of an assembly or what we could call a preacher. So then, were these words written down as part of an address to an actual gathered assembly? Was a mixed group of Israelites gathered to hear this speech or this teaching from Solomon?

It’s possible and certainly there is a general applicability of Ecclesiastes to all people, including our mixed gathering today. Whether you are young or old, saved or unsaved, if life is going well or not well for you, the words of God through Solomon are what you need to hear today. This is the wisdom of God given through one of the wisest men who has ever lived and you need to hear it.

But as we move through the book of Ecclesiastes, notice that though he speaks to all people in one sense, he does have a particular group in mind. We can see this from different details in the book. I’ll summarize some and quote others. For example, Ecclesiastes has a lot to say on the subjects of rule, managing wealth, working, giving counsel and receiving counsel. There is even some mention about a woman who ensnares versus a woman who you can enjoy.

More significant though for identifying the primary audience are what we see again towards the end of the book. Go to Ecclesiastes 11:9. I won’t quote all of it but notice what it says:

Rejoice, young man, during your childhood, and let your heart be pleasant during the days of young manhood.

Skip down to Ecclesiastes 12:1 which says:

Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth.

If you go down just a little bit further to Ecclesiastes 12:12, notice one another phrase the author uses:

But beyond this, my son, be warned.

So who is Solomon most concerned about instructing in this book? Young people. People who have the greatest portion of their lives ahead of them and who are forming their ideas on what they want out of life, what they will pursue in life, and what their goals are. To be most particular, Solomon has in mind young men, even people who will be part of the administration of the kingdom and who will serve and rule on behalf of the king. That is not to say that this book is irrelevant for people who are not men or who are not in some sort of political administration.

Certainly we should still appreciate that this book has special relevance for those who are young. So let me address those of you who are young and you can decide if you are one of those people. You need to listen to what God is saying to you from His Word in this book. You are now forming your ideas about life and work and goals and the path you will pursue.

You need to learn from an old wise man who went to the nth degree to understand what life really is and what is really good and wise in life. Do not insist that you already know everything or that you will find it out yourself. Rather, listen to someone who went before you and who was guided by divinely given wisdom to understand life better than any of us will. You won’t like some of the things the teacher says at first. But afterward, you’ll be blessed and even happy because of it.

Note that this teacher, this old man, this experienced king, does not speak to you out of some moral duty. He’s not here to make sure you don’t have any more fun in your life. Rather, he speaks like a father to a son and is full of care for you. He wants to protect you. Solomon speaks to you that way if you are a young person, and the rest of us as well. Through him, God does.This is actually the words of our Heavenly Father to us from His caring heart.

So we’ve seen the author, the occasion, but what is Solomon’s main message in this book? That’s the third and final introductory point where we’ll spend most of our time today. Let’s talk about the message. Ecclesiastes 1:2 gives us the essential assertion for this book and gives the foundation for the rest of Solomon’s instruction. It says:

“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.”

Vanity, Solomon says. This is an extremely important word in Ecclesiastes and it appears throughout the book. The Hebrew word translated vanity in the NASB is the word havel, which doesn’t have an exact equivalent in English. It has some nuanced aspects to it that are hard to capture. Havel literally means “vapor, breath, or wind” in Hebrew. Think of a mere puff of air or the vapor on a coffee cup or a passing sigh. That’s havel.

The literal meaning of havel helps us understand the metaphorical meaning used through Scripture. Havel literally refers to something insubstantial that you cannot hold onto or grasp. Figuratively speaking, havel refers to something that is empty of genuine gain, or something that is fleeting and doesn’t last or is past full understanding that you can’t wrap your mind around.

This figurative usage is used throughout the Bible in the Old Testament. I’ll give you a few examples. Idols and false gods in the Old Testament are often referred to as havel. They are emptiness, mere air, and totally useless. Another example of havel is Proverbs 31:30 which says:

Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain.

That’s not to say that beauty is meaningless or worthless or evil, but that it is insubstantial. You see it and then it’s gone. Even in this book, Ecclesiastes, we see another nuanced use of it. Go to Ecclesiastes 7-8 where Solomon mentions life situations that don’t make sense or have a good answer to them. Like why does the righteous person perish sometimes like a wicked person. Or why does a wicked person live out a long life of blessing like a righteous person should? These are called havel, situations that are not meaningless or fleeting, but because they don’t make sense!

Each of these figurative nuances ought to be in our minds when we see the word vanity for the translation of havel as we move through Ecclesiastes. It’s not as simple as the English translation for “vanity” or “meaningless,” though that can be the meaning in certain contexts. I think it’s more helpful to think of the term as vaporous. Think by extension something insubstantial, impermanent, and incomprehensible. That’s havel.

What does Solomon say is havel according to Ecclesiastes 1:2? Everything! All of life is havel. Everything is like a vapor that you just can’t catch and you can’t hold on to. Look at how emphatic Solomon is in this assertion. Vanity of vanity, Solomon says, havel havelim, in Hebrew. Vapor of vapors. What’s the meaning of that grammatical construction? It’s just the way that Hebrews often expressed the superlative, or the most of something.

We see this in other instances, with King of kings, which means greatest king. Holy of holies means most holy place. So what does havel of havels means? It means the most havel of all, the most vaporous of all vapors. Solomon says that’s what life is. Everything in the world is that. Not only does Solomon use superlatives, he then repeats it. Just in case any of us have missed the point, he adds a third statement by saying all is havel, all is vanity, all is vapor.

Can you believe that? The wisest man that ever lived, who loves God, the one who has seen it all concludes life is the most insubstantial of vapors. It’s not as if this line here at the beginning of the book was just some passing thing he said and didn’t really mean. This wasn’t just a moment of discouragement or depression. No, because at the end of the book in Ecclesiastes 12:8 we see the same thing he said in the beginning:

“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “all is vanity!”

Solomon’s assertion here at the beginning and end of the book is not the cry of a temporarily depressed king. This isa thoughtful and steady conclusion about what life really is. Solomon wants all of us, especially young people, to hear it. Life is a vapor of vapors. It is insubstantial, impermanent, and ultimately incomprehensible.

Now does that statement sound radical or even irreverent to you? May I point out to you that the other Scriptures actually agree. You heard it earlier in Psalm 39:5-6 say:

Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths, and my lifetime as nothing in Your sight; surely every man at his best is a mere breath. Surely every man walks about as a phantom; surely they make an uproar for nothing; he amasses riches and does not know who will gather them.

The psalmist agrees with what Solomon agrees in Ecclesiastes. It’s not just in the Old Testament because this is what it says in James 4:13-14:

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.

Make no mistake, it’s true that life is a vapor of vapors. This is true not only for those who do not know God, but also those who do know God. We all live under the same sun in this vapor of vapor’s world. We live in a world that tis subjected to utility as Romans 8:20 says. You can’t escape that or exit just by being a Christian. How should you live though? That’s the question Solomon wants to provoke in us because that is what he wants to answer.

Solomon is no nihilist and doesn’t believe that life is meaningless. Neither is he a cynic, jaded about life. He has thought about this and wants to take important time in his book to tear down the false notions that we all carry within us about life. He does that so we can see clearly and then know how to walk in a wise way. Let me give you some instances of how Solomon does this.

I’m going to give some questions that he raises, paraphrasing some ideas he brings up. Do you think that by working hard, that you can change the world and eliminate injustice or poverty? In Ecclesiastes 1:9 Solomon says:

That which has been is that which will be, and that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun.

Go down to Ecclesiastes 1:15 says:

What is crooked cannot be straightened and what is lacking cannot be counted.

Some things can’t be changed no matter how hard you try. Do you think that devotion to knowledge will unlock the way to your golden future and mankind’s golden future? We just have to get our scientists, philosophers, and politicians together. We can figure this out! Look again at Ecclesiastes 1:17-18 which says:

And I set my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly; I realized that this also is striving after wind. Because in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain.

Skip ahead to Ecclesiastes 8:16-17 which say:

When I gave my heart to know wisdom and to see the task which has been done on the earth (even though one should never sleep day or night), and I saw every work of God, I concluded that man cannot discover the work which has been done under the sun. Even though man should seek laboriously, he will not discover; and though the wise man should say, “I know,” he cannot discover.

Again, Solomon readjusts our perspective by saying there are somethings you will never know or figure out. Somethings that you do learn, in fact, won’t make you happier but sadder. You’ll just see how hard life really is and your own limitations. There’s more. Here’s another question raised by Solomon: Do you think that the pursuit of any particular pleasure in your life will bring you lasting joy and satisfaction? Go back to Ecclesiastes 2:1, where Solomon gives his own conclusion to that idea:

I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure. So enjoy yourself.” And behold, it too was futility.

You can even back up a few verses to Ecclesiastes 1:8 where Solomon says:

All things are wearisome; man is not able to tell it. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear filled with hearing.

No matter how much you go after that pleasure, it will never satisfy or arrive and you will never be able to hold onto it. It might be really exciting at first but it won’t fulfill you. What about wealth? Do you think obtaining wealth will solve all your problems and bring you happiness? Look at Ecclesiastes 5:10:

He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity.

When good things increase, those who consume them increase. So what is the advantage to their owners except to look on? The sleep of the working man is pleasant whether he eats little or much but the full stomach of the rich man does not allow him to sleep. Skip down to Ecclesiastes 5:15-17:

As he had come naked from his mother’s womb, so will he return as he came. He will take nothing from the fruit of his labor that he can carry in his hand. This also is a grievous evil—exactly as a man is born, thus will he die. So what is the advantage to him who toils for the wind? Throughout his life he also eats in darkness with great vexation, sickness and anger.

You never found enough wealth and if you found it, it didn’t satisfy you. What kind of existence must you endure just to get that? Continual hardship, vexation, and even sickness. It’s all a waste and havel! What is Solomon trying to show us in these passages? That if you don’t realize the havel nature of this world, you’re going to live a foolish and frustrated life. You’re going to run endlessly and strenuously after various treasures in life, whether it’s wisdom, power, pleasure, your accomplishments, or control.

These things cannot provide what you are seeking. It’s like right when you’re about to get it, it vanishes before your eyes. Or right when you get it, it disappears from your grasp. Havel is a vapor of vapors. You may ask why is this extremely depressing and why would God make us live in such a havel world?

Solomon doesn’t explain that answer specifically but he assumes what is written in the parts of the Old Testament before Ecclesiastes. God did not make the world a havel world. That was not His original design. Actually Genesis 1-2 stresses that God made the world very good. It didn’t have futility in it. But when the first man and woman chose to rebel against God and to seek satisfaction apart from God through sin, they plunged the world and us into a havel state.

God even proclaimed to this first pair how much pain, trouble, toil, and frustration there would be in the world because of their choice to sin. Including that greatest pain and frustration which is death. Everything in the world is subject to death and decay. That is why it is insubstantial and fleeting and unsatisfying.

But that was not God’s design for the world and that did not come from the goodness of His heart, but instead came from man and his rebellion. You might be asking if that’s it then. The great wisdom of Solomon is to basically prepare to be disappointed in life? Well actually no. There’s something more. Let’s go to the end of Ecclesiastes in chapter 12. Solomon gives a summary application for living in a havel world. Look at Ecclesiastes 12:13-14:

The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.

This final word from Solomon is important and it emphasizes two fundamental truths. The first is that there will be a divine judgment beyond this life. Yes, this world is insubstantial, fleeting, and mysterious. But what happens in it even in your vaporous life, matters to God! Even though your works and decisions will have little relative impact on the world and your name will be forgotten quickly after you die, God will require an account of you for how you live. The message of Ecclesiastes is not that nothing matters because even as we see here, God will one day reward the righteous for their seemingly insignificant good and will punish the wicked for their evil.

Of course the rewards for the righteous will come via Christ because we can never do anything righteous on our own, only when we’ve been saved and regenerated when we receive a reward. But that’s only one aspect of it. Solomon emphasizes that there will indeed be a divine judgment and what you do in life does matter in the eternal sense, but there’s a second thing that he emphasizes. Man must embrace his lot, his assigned portion to be happy and righteous.

At the end of verse 13 it says “because this applies to every person.” Literally, the Hebrew is “this is the whole of man.” The whole of man? Actually other translations kind of try to explain that phrase a little bit more for example the ESV and some others say, “This is the whole duty of man.” But even that I feel doesn’t quite capture what is being expressed here.

Living in reverent fear of God and keeping His commandments is not just man’s duty for which man will be judged. It’s actually what man was created for and it’s man’s design. It’s like the optimal working condition for man. Man was not created to live for himself or any of the treasures of the world. He was created to live in a worshipful, dependent, and loving relationship with his Creator God.

This is his lot and what man was created for. If he embraces that, he will be happy and pleasing to God. Therefore, if we want to be happy and wise, we must embrace the lot that has been given to us. You know what is central to this lot and to this living independent relationship with God? It is actually to thankfully enjoy all the gifts that we receive in our vaporous existence.

Let me say that again, the essential element of man’s design and God’s perfect decision as to how man should be is for man to thankfully enjoy the fleeting gifts that God provides under the sun. If you feel like that came out of nowhere, let me tell you that is actually what Solomon says in Ecclesiastes. Even though Solomon emphatically teaches that everything in life is an unsatisfying vapor in and of itself, seven times Solomon commends the enjoyment of life as a gift from God. Even such vaporous aspects of food, drink, work, companionship, and youth.

Let me show you in Ecclesiastes 3:12-13, which says:

I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime; moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor—it is the gift of God.

Look at Ecclesiastes 5:18-19 right after he talks about not seeking wealth:

Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one’s labor in which he toils under the sun during the few years of his life which God has given him; for this is his reward. Furthermore, as for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, He has also empowered him to eat from them and to receive his reward and rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God.

Let me show you one more. Turn to Ecclesiastes 9:7-9:

Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart; for God has already approved your works. Let your clothes be white all the time, and let not oil be lacking on your head. Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun.

I don’t know if you’re wondering if that even computes. How can we rejoice in something that is so fleeting and even frustrating? The answer is simple. Stop expecting too much from it. This is a simple truth but it is often missed. Solomon wants us to realize that when we do not look for too much out of life or any particular portion of life, we can enjoy when life actually is a gift from God.

To say it another way, when you recognize the limits of what life can and cannot do for you, you can accept it, make use of those limited aspects of life, live wisely, and even rejoice! Your work won’t fundamentally change the world but you can do genuine good for your work and you can rejoice in God’s portion to you. He wants you to do enjoy your work. No earthly pleasure will bring ultimately fulfillment but you should enjoy godly pleasures that you experience in this life: music, beautiful landscapes, good food, etc. These are limited but kind gifts from your God to you.

Pursuing wisdom will not unlock the secrets of the universe to you. But it can help you make better decisions in life. Wealth will not ultimately secure you but saving money and making diverse investments can help you in unexpected calamities. That’s something that Solomon says. No companionship will last forever or bring ultimately fulfillment. But instead of bemoaning and fearing the loss of someone you love, thank God for that person and rejoice in every good moment the God gave you to share with that person. It is a gift.

Rejoicing in our havel lives is part of our lot and part of our whole duty of man. If we refuse to do this, not only are we foolish because we are just going to be miserable, but we are sinning against God. Why? Because one of the most fundamental sins that God indicts the unbelieving world for in the Scriptures is lack of gratitude. Romans 1:21 says speaking of unbelievers:

For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

Acts 14:17 says:

And yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.

God is giving you gifts that you ought to be thankful for! Isn’t that what the New Testament also says in terms of positive commendation? 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says:

In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Timothy 4:3-4 says, speaking against false teachers and what they inappropriately do:

Men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude.

So yes, life under the sun is a vapor of vapors. Yet it is still to be gratefully received and enjoyed in the fear of God to the glory of God. I would sum up the message of Ecclesiastes this way: life is a vapor but enjoy it as a gift and not as gain. If you think that life or some mere thing in it will be to you your ultimate salvation, satisfaction, or security, then get ready for painful disillusionment. You will not find gain in life. If you recognize the limitations in life and receive it as a gift through your and my little sojourn, then you will live wisely and happily and you will bring honor to God.

Now this is just an overview of the message of Ecclesiastes. Solomon has some specific arguments and assertions that we need to consider together so that’s why I will, Lord willing, move through the book section by section. But I wanted you to see the overview today. Just from today’s little overview and introduction, consider what the Lord’s Word in Ecclesiastes means for you. You need to ask yourselves, what are you living for? What are your goals and what are you straining after and pursuing? And why?

Do you think there is something in life that will be gain to you? Do you see that a life lived that way is ultimately doomed to frustration, disappointment, and to the judgment of God. He will say look at all those gifts He gave you and ask why you were so ungrateful.

Do you instead see from the wisdom of Solomon that if you humble yourself and acknowledge life to be what it really is, you will stop living for this world and instead live for God and Christ? Then not only will you escape the judgment of God and inherit eternal salvation with Him forever, but you can enjoy life just seeing again and again the little kindness of your Father. Yes the world is cursed, but God continually gives you something else because He loves you.

Let us also remember that though God is so gracious to give us such loving gifts in this life, for His own the world will be different for them one day. God will actually change this world. The havel aspect of the world will be something that God causes to pass away. For those who know God, they are going into that world and will know it in full later. Is that true for you? Have you repented and believed in Jesus Christ? Have you turned from the treasures of this world, from living your own way, from insisting upon finding what you think is good in your gain, and living independently from God?

If you turn from that, turn from your sin and instead turn to God in Christ saying not my way but Your way. There is no amount of good works we can do to satisfy Him, it is only the work, perfect life, and substitution of Jesus that can on our behalf. It is the end of ourselves and our own ways and it’s all God. We will then inherit and experience eternal life even in the kindnesses that God gives us in this way.

That’s the wise and happy way that Solomon and God wants us to walk. This is an appeal to you! God could command that you not live a certain way. But Ecclesiastes is an appeal because our God is a loving God and He wants you to walk the wise way. Won’t you listen to Him? Especially those of you who are young. We must heed the loving voice of our Father. Life is a vapor, but for those in Christ it is also a gift, not a gain.

Let’s close in prayer. Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your Word. This surprising and yet very good Word from Ecclesiastes. Thank You for the gifts that You give us in a world that so frequently doesn’t make sense and has things that are so fleeting and insubstantial. And yet You are so good to us in it and You call us to gratefully enjoy it. Lord, we thank You for the gifts You provided but we also look forward to a day when what You will provide is even greater than this: a world without futility, death, or sin. For those who know You and have repented and believed in Christ, we are going to that world. Thank You, God. We look forward to it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.