Sermons & Sunday Schools

Running in Circles

In this sermon, Pastor Dave Capoccia examines Solomon’s first section of teaching in Ecclesiastes (1:3-11). Solomon provides four startling observations on the vapor-like nature of life so that you will not be deceived into living for this world.

1. The earth toils in an unsatisfying circle
2. Man toils in an unsatisfying circle
3. Man does not experience anything truly new
4. Man does not remember the past

Full Transcript:

It is Labor Day weekend and I didn’t even think about it but today’s sermon is quite appropriate for Labor Day. It may be a little hard to hear, but I pray and trust it will be a blessing to you because it is the wisdom of God. Let’s pray one more time.

Heavenly Father, we need to hear from You as You moved your servant Solomon to write these words to us from Ecclesiastes. Lord, there is a very foolish way to live life and there is a wise way. Help us to listen to Your Word and to take that wise way, the way that culminates in eternal life but is also a blessing every moment we have on earth. Help me to be able to explain it and bless this time. Amen.

The ancient Greeks told a story about a great king named Sisyphus. He was supposedly the original founder of Corinth and though he accomplished much as a ruler, he was most famous for his cleverness and even his deception. He had a number of antics that he pursued. he believed he was wise enough to outwit the gods and even death.

But according to the Greeks, the gods had enough of Sisyphus’ crafty schemes and they dragged him to the underworld where he was sentenced to a unique form of torture. He was given a large boulder to roll up a hill but the boulder was enchanted so that every time the boulder was about to reach the top of the hill, it would fall back down to the bottom.

Thus because of his pride, Sisyphus was doomed to eternity of pointless and endless toil.He would continually have to work hard and strain to get that boulder up the hill. Every time he was close to reaching his goal and ending his struggle, it would roll right back down.and he’d have to start all over again.

What stands out to me from this Greek myth is its notion of what constitutes a kind of hell. What torments the Greeks thought to be doomed to an existence of absolutely fruitless work, and to be forced to work hard day after day never to advance or find satisfaction or have anything to show for the labor. That is such a terrible fate and one must do anything to avoid it.

You know the great irony of that thought is according to the Bible, such a destiny of fruitless toil is not the fate of a few proud ones as they go into the after life. According to the Bible, that is the fate of every human being who lives on the earth. Truly the story of Sisyphus functions like a parable for humanity. In the garden of Eden, mankind our first pair Adam and Eve, rose up in pride and rebellion against their Creator. They insisted on finding their own satisfaction according to their own wisdom apart from their Creator God. As a result, God cursed them and He cursed all their descendants which includes us today. As romans 8:20 says,

The Creation was subjected to futility.

God says if you don’t want me, you will be subjected to death, decay, pain, and hardship. They all entered into the world because of their sin. Though God graciously allowed humanity to survive as a people and even to multiply, part of the curse was that all of man’s pursuits because Sisyphean. Each of us must toil to get bay in this fallen world. But in the end, what we will find for our toil? Not true advancement, satisfaction, or gain. It will be like trying to grasp a vapor or trying to chase after the wind. Does such an assessment depress you?

This is the hard truth that King Solomon wants his listeners to face at the beginning of Ecclesiastes: though you will work hard, you will not find gain. Now Solomon presents this truth not because he is a depressed cynic or wants to drag everyone down into some sort of despairing unbelief. Rather, as a wise and compassionate man, great king, he directs the young on what is the only wise, happy, and godly way to approach life. We actually overviewed this way last time. We did an introduction to Ecclesiastes and I gave you the main message that Solomon communicates.

Solomon teaches in this 12 chapter book, that life in a fallen world is the most vaporous of vapors. It is insubstantial, fleeting, and puzzling. That’s what this world is about. Anyone, therefore, that lives for this world and its vain treasures will find disappointment, frustration, and God’s judgment. But for those who fear God and do not live for this world but for God in Christ, will find a life and joy that is apart from this world and the only way to enjoy life in this world. They will see all the little treasures not as gain in and of themselves, but as little gifts of love from their Heavenly Father.

To say it succinctly, truly life is a vapor. But God says to enjoy it as a gift, not as gain. Perhaps you protest. Maybe you insist there really is ultimate gain and satisfaction in this world. Maybe you won’t say that, mentally you assent to what Solomon says but that’s not actually what you believe. You know what you believe because that’s not the way you live. You are actually caught up in the same craving frenzy as the rest of the world.

Maybe you are someone who strives to secure ultimate advancement, security, or pleasure in the things of the world. You never feel like you worked enough, saved enough, seen enough, etc. You just need a little more to be happy and safe. So as we begin our investigation of the Word today, consider for yourselves whatever pious words you confess, what do you actually believe about life? How do you actually live and what really is your hope and treasure?

We’re proceeding into the first long section of teaching in Ecclesiastes 1:3-11. Part of what we saw last time was Solomon’s thesis in this book and his main idea. He expresses that in Ecclesiastes 1:1-2:

The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.”

Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived apart from our Lord Christ, declares that all life is vanity. The Hebrew word behind that translated term which is havel. It means vapor, rest, or wind. Figuratively, it means that life is not meaningless but it is like a vapor. It is fundamentally insubstantial, impermanent, incomprehensible. We just can’t get our minds around it to comprehend it all.

Solomon declares that theirs but now he’s going to present his first general argument to prove that such is the state of the world for everyone who lives in it, both Christians and nonChristians. Let’s read what it says in Ecclesiastes 1:3-11:

What advantage does man have in all his work which he does under the sun? A generation goes and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. Also, the sun rises and the sun sets; and hastening to its place it rises there again. Blowing toward the south, then turning toward the north, the wind continues swirling along; and on its circular courses the wind returns. All the rivers flow into the sea, yet the sea is not full. To the place where the rivers flow, there they flow again. 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. 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. Is there anything of which one might say, “See this, it is new”? Already it has existed for ages which were before us. There is no remembrance of earlier things; and also of the later things which will occur, there will be for them no remembrance among those who will come later still.

What a word! In this passage, Solomon provides four startling observations on the vapor-like nature of life so that you and I will not be deceived into living for this world. Four startling observations and they’re all framed by a provocative question provided by Solomon to us in verse 3, which says again:

What advantage does man have in all his work which he does under the sun?

This is a simple question but powerful and profound one. In a way, Solomon’s already given the answer in verse 2 but now he poses it to us. What do you think Solomon says? Is there any true profit in this world for man and all his work? The word advantage here can be translated profit or gain, a financial term. It’s like Solomon is asking that at the end of the day when you tally up all the numbers, what is the bottom line for man? Isn’t that a concern that we all have about life?

I mean we approach everything we do, our time, our work, and our recreation, and always with the question of what we’re going to get out of it? What will I ultimately receive from this and will I think it is worth it in the end? One of the greatest pains in life is to discover that something you were pursing that you thought would provide a nice benefit was actually empty! You might have thought you did all the work for nothing.

We as humans want to avoid futile pursuits. Solomon knows that so he is asking the same question that we should be asking. What is the gain or profit for man in this world? Notice the phrase that comes soon after: “In all his work which he has done.” This is an understated translation in the New American Standard of what the Hebrew actually says. The ESV is a little better when it gives this translation: “What does man gain by all the toil by which he toils under the sun?”

Is toil a positive or negative word? It’s a negative word! Toil is hard work with trouble mixed in. Have you ever experienced toil? I think we all have and it’s not something we relish. Nearly every day probably we face toil. So Solomon’s asking what is the profit for all this toil, this excruciating work that we face as men, women, and children? We’re suffering a lot here and we want to know what we’re going to get out of it. What is the payoff?

Notice one more phrase from Solomon here in verse 3: “Under the sun.” This phrase appears many times but what does it mean? Some interpreters believe the phrase refers to existence in this world that does not acknowledge God. That is life merely under the sun. In that interception there is a play on words that you can do. Life under the sun is different than life under the Son. That is pretty snazzy, but that particular interoperation of this phrase doesn’t really fit with Ecclesiastes as a whole.

The phrase is better understood as under the sun in the world we live in. Life in a fallen world whether or not you fear God. We all live in the many times harsh, but continually blazing ball in the sky. But is there any gain in life under the sun? There might be some treasure that we can live for here that will make all the toil worth it.

To help us answer, Solomon makes four startling observations that should teach us not to live for this world but to live for God. The first starting observation of this vapor like world appears in Ecclesiastes 1:4-8, the earth toils in an unsatisfying circle. Look at verses again, it says:

A generation goes and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. Also, the sun rises and the sun sets; and hastening to its place it rises there again. Blowing toward the south, then turning toward the north, the wind continues swirling along; and on its circular courses the wind returns. All the rivers flow into the sea, yet the sea is not full. To the place where the rivers flow, there they flow again. 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.

Solomon’s first observation is on that he wants us to see as well, that the earth has a havel-like futile existence. You want to ask about the true gain from main in this world? Just look at creation, and whether it experiences any advancement or gain. The first phrase in verse 4 is “a generation goes and a generation comes.” The order that we expect is that a generation comes and then goes. Actually that’s the way the NIV translates the verse.

Solomon chose this word order specifically. By emphasizing leaving first, it’s like he is saying the new generation is not an advancement but a replacement. There’s nothing fundamentally new about this new group of people. Something else to note here is that the verbs in the ESV are in the present tense, but in the original Hebrew they are participles. These are fancy words for a verb that acts like an adjective that emphasizes continual action. Normally they are translated into English with an -ing. A more literal translation of verse 4 would be “a generation going and a generation coming.” That emphasizes the continual characteristic action.

Whole masses of people are constantly going and coming into the earth. There’s a whole lot of activity as far as mankind is concerned. The net effect is at the end of verse 4: despite the constant recycling of generations of transit humanity on the earth, the earth remains as it ever was with no real impact. The earth just keeps doing what it always does. This hurts because man wants to make his mark on the earth to have a lasting impact. Solomon says to look at the physical world and how quickly it has forgotten whole generations of humanity.

Generations keep going and coming but all those persons don’t fundamentally change the earth. The earth keeps on fundamentally going. The sun rises and sets every day. In other words, there is no change, advancement, or profit. Just a lot of hard work as far as the sun is concerned. Notice the word hastening in verse 5. The idea in the Hebrew term is the idea of panting. Usually you pant when you’re tired but have to keep on going. That’s the image of the sun here. This is not the sun excitedly or passionately going to work of shining every day. This is the sun hustling and dragging himself forward every day. The sun is metaphorically weary of his work but has to go back to it continually over and over again.

The wind in verse 6 is in the same state. Just as the sun is moving in its unending circuit from east to west, the wind blows unendingly from north to south. It’s a compass rose of futility. Notice how vain the wind’s movement is! The phrase in verse 6 is that, “The wind continues swirling along.” In the Hebrew this literally means that the wind is going around, going around, the wind is going. The wind is literally going around and around in circles. Is there anything more vain than that? Like the sun, the wind has its appointed circuit to run but it has nothing to show for its effort. Nothing fundamentally changes or advances.

In verse 7 Solomon considers the rivers and streams. The water channels also have work to do, to flow in and fill up the sea. But the sea is never full. God doesn’t take those rivers and streams aside and says good job that they did and can stop now. The sea level never even appreciably rises due to the hard works of rivers and streams. The rivers just return to the ceaseless work with no lasting accomplishment or pride.

Just looking at the created order, is there any gain in this world? Solomon has his commentary in verse 8 by saying: “All things are wearisome.” The ESV is a little better here with its translation by saying that all things are full of weariness. It’s better because the Hebrew term has the idea of being weary rather than causing weariness. Solomon is saying that creation itself is weary with the monotony and incessant activity that yields no true gain. Everything is weary. Paul says the same thing in Romans 8:22:

For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.

It’s like creation is stuck in this cycle of futility. It longs to be free and redeemed and restored along with the children of man. But for now, the world must continually and wearily go about its futile work. And that’s the state of creation and that’s where we live. Are we going to do any better? This is the first observation that should direct us away from living this world. A second startling observation appears in the rest of verse 8, not only does the earth toil in unsatisfying circles but so does man. Look at Ecclesiastes 1:8:

The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear filled with hearing.

What is man’s response and reaction to living in this world weary with futility? It’s only a series of continual inabilities and frustrations. Some might put that second line in verse 8 with the previous section. But I wouldn’t because these three lines are all grammatically parallel in Hebrew. So I think we’ve got three abilities brought to our attention dealing with man. The first is that man is not able to tell it literally man is not able to speak it. That’s a kind of funny statement. What does Solomon mean about that? It doesn’t mean that man can’t talk at all. If we consider the two phrases that follow their parallel grammar, I think we have to understand Solomon to mean that man is not able to speak fully or satisfactorily about something. What it is that man cannot tell or speak sufficiently about? Well, everything!

Consider the publishing industry. Is there any topic for which someone publishes a book, no other book will be published. Actually even from the most obscure topics, there are always books for use. No one has the last say on anything. Consider modes of artistic expression. People rave about books and paintings and films that deeply probe the nature of human existence. But can any art fully capture what it means to be human and live in a fallen world? No it’s never happened. Man is not able to tell it. He feels an intense desire to express himself, and explain and communicate about this world and he does but it’s never enough.

We crave expression and being able to classify and explain this world but just as the world is caught in futility, so is our speech. That’s not the only part though. Solomon says that man’s eye is not satisfied with seeing. The third line in verse 8 says that the eye is never sated and says that’s it, I don’t need to see anything else beautiful. Today we are flooded with more visual stimuli than ever but has it sated or reduced man’s appetite? No, it’s only increased it to want to learn more! Man’s eye is never satisfied.

Finally, man’s ear is not filled with hearing. There’s a repeat of some of the terms that Solomon used to describe the sea not being filled up by the rivers. In the same way, man’s ear is never filled up no matter how much music, teaching, or talking is poured into it. It never finds a new favorite song and then stops looking for a new one. Why does this happen? Because man’s ear is never filled with hearing. These are just samples of what it means to be a person in this world.

Are you catching on what Solomon is observing? Just as the earth is caught in an unsatisfying circle of toil. Man is caught in the same cycle. Man toils, labors, and works but he’s never able to find lasting satisfaction. Not for his mouth, his eyes, or his ears. So where is man’s prophet in all his toil? Want to leave a lasting impact on the earth and find lasting satisfaction for yourself? It won’t happen! You may say not now, but in the future! Someone might discover something new that frees himself from this vaporous existence.

Anticipating such thoughts, Solomon has a third startling observation in Ecclesiastes 1:9-10, man experiences nothing truly new. This is the passage:

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. Is there anything of which one might say, “See this, it is new”? Already it has existed for ages which were before us.

If you just examine these lines, you can see there are a lot of parallels and repetition. It is done on purpose because the form of the message actually compliments the content of the message. Man hopes for and craves the new but he only finds repeats of the old. You may hear that and find yourself resisting it a little bit. You may have experienced somethings in your life that are good or bad.

Just look at the progress of your life and compare since Bible times. We’ve got indoor plumbing, antibiotics, a space program, etc. Yes there are elements of life that we experience that feel new to us and there are technologies and experiences that did not exist in the past. But Solomon says what he does for a reason. He is speaking by the Spirit of God and is right. We just need to understand what he means. We have the answer to what Solomon is getting at here. We don’t experience anything fundamentally new, not personally and not as a people. Let me give you a few illustrations.

I remember seeing a meme that put side by side two pictures. One picture was of passengers on a train in the 1950s reading the newspaper. And the right picture had a train of passengers on their smart phones. Times change and technology changes, but is anything really new?

Another example is that everyone is talking about how unprecedented this COVID-19 situation is. There are some new aspects to it, but is it really so unprecedented? The world has experienced plagues and pandemics and controversies about how to protect before. We saw the same things during the flu pandemic of 1918. Now it’s true that there wasn’t the internet or globalization or social media back then, and there were a lot more deaths in that pandemic. But in kind, our crisis isn’t all that different.

Take one other example. I know there are some people who are zealous for the King James Version and say it is time-tested and practically inspired by God. Did you know that such arguments are nothing new? When Jerome tried to create a new latin translation of the Old Testament from the Hebrew in the 4th century AD, Augustine rebukes Jerome by asking what’s wrong with just using the Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament. Godly men have used this translation for hundreds of years and it’s time tested and an inspired translation from God!

You know what’s even more amazing? What happened when men tried to create a new translation from Jerome’s vulgate in the 1400s and 1500s? The exact same thing! The Catholic church asked why and that there’s nothing wrong with this translation. They say it’s inspired! Many examples such as these could be put forward. Circumstances change or there are different details in future situations. But fundamentally nothing is new.

What seems new to us is really just an upgraded or different or recombined version of what we’ve actually seen. This is something that always gets me about science fiction. When you get all the different alien races they come up with or the places in storylines and you find some that are familiar! They kind of look like the things on earth because there is nothing fundamentally new. It’s all basically the same.

We’re still grateful for those upgrades and advances. I’m grateful for the medical and technological advancements we have, and we praise God for them! But the things that we really see change are not going to. This world, mankind, sin, death, pain, frustration, etc. are not going away. There’s no earthly escape from these realities, yet how often we cling to the hope of the new. The promise that maybe something unseen will come and make a real difference in my life. People think it’s going to come from a new job, new dress, new car, new marriage, new government, etc. Maybe this will be what we’re waiting for! Maybe if it’s not already around me, I can contribute or find something that will be a gain.

You know what God says, it’s not possible. Nothing fundamentally new will come from you or be experienced by you. And you know why it is that we find ourselves hoping so much for the new? It has to do with Solomon’s last observation in this section. Number 4, man does not remember the past. Look at Ecclesiastes 1:11:

There is no remembrance of earlier things; and also of the later things which will occur, there will be for them no remembrance among those who will come later still.

This is why we don’t recognize that there’s nothing new, because we don’t remember the old and we can’t compare! Now of course this verse isn’t meant to be understood to say that we remember nothing about the past. We remember yesterday and there is such a thing as the study of history. Nevertheless there are two ways that Solomon’s statement is true. Number one, though some people remember earlier things, most don’t. Do you think most people in the world are well acquainted with history? Most people are not even acquainted in the present. You know those programs that pop up every now and again where they ask 10,000 people who the president of this country is, and like half the people get it wrong!

What is hope is there for the past then? But lest we become too hard on others and dismiss them, think about your own ability to remember? How much do you know about your ancestors pasts? Do you even know the names of your ancestors beyond your grandparents? How much do you know about this country’s history? How much do you know about other countries and their histories?

There are historians that have special knowledge of the past, humanity as a whole remembers very little. What we do remember is often vague and sometimes misremembered. Oh yeah George Washington or Abe Lincoln did this, but they actually didn’t. This fact leads to another way that there is no remembrance that shows that Solomon’s statement is true. Number two, no one learns from the past in a way that is fundamentally transforming or rescuing of humanity.

Someone once said that the only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history. That is a pretty true statement. While the past can help us in certain small limited ways, man never learns from the past in a way that is truly helpful for escaping the vapor of vapors existence that we all share. Instead, mankind keeps making the same mistakes over and over again. He pursues the same useless idols, treasures, and hopes. The cast in point in this is the Nation of Israel. Look at them in the Bible and all the things God did for them and all the times He chastened them from turning away. Why do they keep doing that? Don’t they remember?

Probably the most obvious example is when they literally said let’s go back to Egypt! They were enslaved in Egypt, but they remember that it was good there. They had the leeks, the melons, and all the food they wanted. It wasn’t just a problem with their brains with remembering. It was also because of their proud, stubborn hearts. They refused to learn the lesson they needed to about the past. It’s still true for us today.

Think about how people make the same mistake over and over again when it comes to placing hope in our modern American political system. We have heard the same thing over and over again during each election cycle. How many of you have heard that this is the most important election? How many times have people believed that if their candidate would only win, everything would be fixed? How many times were you disappointed when your elected candidate won but didn’t fix everything?

Instead of saying that you shouldn’t put so much hope in a political candidate, people blame it on the other party which got in the way. Next time will be right and everything will be fixed. Will we ever learn? Let’s get even more personal. How many times have you pursued sinful, foolish courses in your life? You experienced the consequences of it and got in trouble, were disappointed, realized that something didn’t provide what you thought it did, and then later go right back to it.

Don’t you remember what that experience was when you pursued it before? It didn’t satisfy and only brought trouble and yet people still go back. You say to yourself that maybe this time it’ll be different and you will find what you’re looking for. But in your heart you know the answer that it’s not true. This is the common experience of mankind. We generally do not remember the past and what we do remember, we don’t remember in way that’s fundamentally helpful. If we ourselves can’t remember the past, what hope is there for the next generation?

The next generation is as forgetful as we are and for them there will be nor remembrance. Humanity doesn’t change, it just recycles. We never remember, learn, and thus never progress as a people or as individuals. We don’t find gain in this world. Just like a hamster running on a wheel no matter how hard they run they never get anywhere.

This last observation by Solomon shows just how pointless it is to live to be remembered. How many times in history has someone expressed they will make a name for themselves to last all time. They say that people will remember them as being awesome. Wasn’t this what the ancient people of Babel said when they tried to build a towel? How many people pursued all their different accomplishments in the hope of producing for themselves a name? Well we don’t remember because their accomplishments are gone. It’s not going to last! Within a few generations, no one will remember you. If they do remember you, it won’t be in a way that is particularly profound. Just as you don’t remember all the great men and women in the past.

We consider this whole argument by Solomon in this passage of Ecclesiastes 1:3-11. Can you see what Solomon means now in verse 2 when he says vanity of vanities? The natural world is stuck in an unsatisfying circle. As an inhabitant of that natural world, man is stuck in the same circle. We experience nothing that is truly new and we don’t remember the past in a meaningful way. What is the proper of all man’s toil under the sun? The answer is there is no lasting prophet or gain.

No matter how hard you work, you will not find lasting gain or fulfillment. This is what life in a fallen world is: insubstantial, fleeting, and ultimately incomprehensible. It’s like Sisyphus, painfully rolling that rock up the hill just to watch it fall back down again. You might be asking what then should you do. Maybe people should just keep chasing these vain pleasures anyway to temporarily numb the existence. After all what other choice is there?

Actually there is a better way. In fact, it’s the only way to true gain and lasting fulfillment. What way is that? Let me point you again to what Solomon says in Ecclesiates 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.

You see, the way to lasting gain in this world is not actually in this world. It’s apart from this world and is in God. Our Creator is the One that we were created for. So of course, any method of approaching life that doesn’t seek God as the ultimate gain is doomed for frustration. We weren’t designed for that to seek vain satisfaction in the world, but in God. Worse by running away from God, seeking the world instead of Him, you come under God’s judgment because only He is worthy of worship and devotion, not created things.

Man’s design is to walk with God and depend on Him continually. It is to fear Him and seek Him as the ultimate treasure and not the mere things of the earth. So if we will actually stop going the way the rest of the world does and stop rebelling against God, and instead actually fear His commandments and seek Him, then we will rediscover the joy that was always God’s design for man. A joy that is not based on this world or the things of it but of He who is beyond.

Listen to the way that Jesus Himself describes this truth to the Samaritan woman in John 4. He was talking to this woman at the well about the water she was drawing and about the water she needs to live. This is what He says in John 4:13-14:

Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”

Everyone is thirsting in this world, that’s why they strive the way that they do. But the Lord says that He is the only One who can provide true life and satisfaction for the thirsty. Not in the way they are seeking, but in the way that they need it. How does one come to drink and partake of this living water from Jesus? You have to be His disciple and know Him by repentance and faith. Jesus says to repent and believe the gospel for the Kingdom of God is near. To know Jesu Christ is to know true gain. You must repent of living for the things of the world. It is the vainest things, but also an evil thing. Solomon shows that is is of no profit to seek the treasures of this world. We must turn and repent from that.

No longer walk on your sinful way in pursuit of idols. Turn from yourself and to God. Embrace Him by faith in who He is and what He has done. Jesus Christ, the God-Man, came into the world to save sinners. He lived a perfectly righteous life, He died a perfectly substitutionary death, and He rose victoriously from the grave so that all those who believe in Him will have their sins paid off by God, that they might be clothed in Christ’s own perfect righteous. So they are acceptable to God through Jesus and not by their own good works or rituals.

If you want to gain God, which is the ultimate treasure and the only true gain for life, then you must repent of your sin and idols and turn to embrace Jesus as your Lord and God. He is the only One who can make you righteous. All by Himself and His work can make you righteous.

If you do that, then not only is what Jesus said true, then this living water will become in you a fountain of water unto eternal life with God.But you already get to drink of that water so to speak during this life. Make no mistake, Solomon is not saying your life is doomed to misery because you live in a vain world. It is doomed to mystery if you ultimately live for this world. But there is a happy and wise way to live life. That way is to live in the fear of God who is your gain. Then, life becomes a gift to be enjoyed thankfully rather than some rat race for gain.

God has many good things for us in this world. These are things that He commands us to give Him thanks for and intends for us to receive joy. We don’t thank God for food to enjoy it apart from God. That is foolish. God says if we will seek Him first, then He wants us to enjoy that food and companionships we have. They are gifts to us even though they don’t satisfy in and of themselves. When God is your gain, life becomes a gift that you can wisely utilize and enjoy thankfulness.

So which way are you going to go? You have to answer that same question that Solomon posed in verse 3. What is your profit for all of your toil that you toil in this world? Solomon already directed to you towards the answer, but will you stubbornly insist you have the answer? Adam and Eve also said that and were so wrong. Give that stubbornness up and humble yourself by listening to your Heavenly Father who is appealing to you through this book.

Will you listen to your Heavenly Father? One way leads to joy and life but the other way leads to frustration. Which do you want? Let’s close in prayer.

God, we thank You for this Word. Lord, it has to pierce through those wrong things that we often believe and cling to. Lord it’s so easy, especially in our materialistic society in America to look for gain in this world and to trust in science, philosophy, pleasures, and these new products that keep coming out. They won’t bring gain because they are just old things dressed up in a new way. There was something new in the world but it didn’t come from the world. It was You! Lord Jesus Christ, You came into the world to save sinners. You did the unthinkable and the unexpected. You came to redeem those who had no reason or anything in themselves to make them worthy to be redeemed. You did that for Your own, all those who repented and believed have eternal life.

I pray for any that don’t know You today, that they would know You. And for those who do know You that get so easily tangled up in the things of this world, that they would say no and choose not to live this old way, the vain way that the world continues to live. I want to live for God and thereby enjoy the world, life, and the good gifts of God in a proper way. Thank You for kindly outlining the wise and good ways for us. Lord I pray that Your Spirit would be so kind to take that way. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.