Central Baptist Church
Sunday, July 12, 2020

Morning Worship Sermon

 
THE FUTILITY OF LIFE
Ecclesiastes 1:1-11
 
          The Book of Ecclesiastes can be entitled "Searching For Heaven On Earth."
 
Ecclesiastes 1:1-11 “The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem2 Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.  3 What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? 4 One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.  5 The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose. 6 The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits. 7 All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again. 8 All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. 9 The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. 10 Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us. 11 There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.”
 
 
          Is happiness still within our reach?
          Will the protesters find the answer to their searching, do their protest contain the answers?
 
          Many in the world today are searching for meaning in life – but the problem is, they’re searching in all the wrong places!
 
          Trying to find eternal meaning in a temporal world is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.  Folks, God created us for eternity, and only His eternal presence in our lives can satisfy this thirst for meaning in life.
 
          Nearly 8,000 students from 48 different colleges were surveyed on what they considered “very important” to them.
          16% responded “making a lot of money” and that does not really surprise us does it.
          75% responded that their first goal in life was to “find a purpose and meaning of my life.”
 
          A college student wrote this note before taking his life :  “To anyone in the world who cares, who am I?  Why am I living?  Life has become stupid and purposeless.  Nothing makes sense to me anymore.  The questions I had when I came to college are still unanswered and now I’m convinced there are no answers.  There can only be pain and guilt and despair here in this world.  My fear of death and the unknown is far less terrifying than the prospect of unbearable frustration, futility, and hopelessness of continued existence.”
 
          In some way that must have been what was going through the mind of mass shooters taking the lives of innocent people and then turning the weapon upon themselves, taking their own lives.
          How could anyone ever come to the point where they believe that death, an early death, is better than life?
 
          The book of Ecclesiastes chronicles Solomon’s search to find the purpose and meaning of life.  It’s a unique book in that it tells of a man’s search for true meaning in life and describes the conclusions he reached.
 
          In Ecclesiastes, Solomon has reached the latter days of his life and as he looked back over his life he realized how many foolish choices he made in his search to find the meaning of life.  Now he came to a Godly conclusion at the end of the book, but it was too late then for him to enjoy it personally. 
 
          Solomon was in a unique position to conduct a study on the meaning of life :
               -  His 40 years as king of Israel was a time of peace
               -  He had the money and resources to allow him to undertake such a study
               -  He was the wisest, smartest man of his age, and perhaps of all time
 
          Solomon was a man on a mission – a mission to discover the meaning of life.
 
Ecclesiastes 1:1 “The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.”
 
          Here Solomon is called the “Preacher” or the Searcher or Quester.  He’s the guy whose searching for answers, he’s looking for answers.  He’s gathering information.
 
          Right in the very beginning Solomon states his conclusion of the matter!
 
Ecclesiastes 1:2“Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.”
 
          What a depressing thought!
          To live life and at the end to find that your life amounted to vanity - nothingness!
 
          “Vanity” -  Solomon uses this word 38 times and that qualifies it as a primary theme of Solomon’s writing.  Now this vanity is not the vanity of beauty or vainglory that we are familiar with today.
 
          Ill. -  A woman once told her pastor, “When I confess my sins, I confess the sin of vanity most of all.   Every morning when I arise, I admire myself in the mirror for half an hour.”
               -   To this her pastor replied, “My dear lady, that’s not the sin of vanity.  Your suffering from the sin of imagination.”
 
          As Solomon uses the word vanity he refers to emptiness or nothingness to that which has little meaning.
         
          “Life is a vapor” he says, “it’s here and then it’s gone.”
          Imagine getting to the top and finding that it’s all smoke, mirrors, illusion, vapor, nothingness, and emptiness. As Peggy Lee used to sing, “Is that all there is?”
 
          Solomon was on top for 40 years only to ask :
 
Ecclesiastes 1:3 “What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?”
 
          Now don’t misunderstand Solomon’s questions and answers.
 
          Solomon is describing life as if there is no God at all in the picture and his conclusion is that life is meaningless without God.
 
          To illustrate his conclusion, Solomon presents several arguments about “life under the sun.”
 
I.  The Futility Of Life
 
          In verses 4-7 he teaches us four things about the futility of life.
 
1.  The Course of Life
 
Ecclesiastes 1:4 “One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.
 
                     
          I go to the hospital a lot and it’s ironic that at one end of the hall there is death and at the other end there is life. At Forest General Hospital every time a baby is born they play a lullaby over the house speaker.
          A baby is born.
          The elderly die.
          While we stood by Cindi Carter's bed and she took that last breath and entered into eternity with Christ, a lullaby came on the speakers.
 
          Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains the same.
 
          We get up, we go to work, we come home, we watch TV, then we go to bed, only to repeat this over and over.
          Then we die – or at least that’s how a lot of people view life.  That’s how it can look if you don’t have eyes to see beneath the surface. 
 
          Solomon said that if I look at life without God in the picture, life is so futile.
 
2.  The Circle of the Sun
 
Ecclesiastes 1:5 “The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.”
 
          “The sun also ariseth” speaks of the silent and uncaring machine that life and nature can appear to be.
          The sun doesn’t slow down, time can’t be stopped, and just as we can stop the course of the sun,death marches toward us like an advancing army and we can't stop it.
          Man has searched and is still searching for the fountain of youth but it does not exist apart from God through His Son Jesus Christ!
         
          We can run, but we can’t hide!
          Death will find us.
 
          Not an encouraging outlook, but remember, Solomon’s pessimism comes from his disconnect with God.
 
          Next Solomon talked about :
 
3.  The Circuit of the Wind
 
Ecclesiastes 1:6 “The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.”
 
          The wind to Solomon becomes a symbol of his despair for it represented the invisible brevity of life.
 
          Then he talked about :
 
4.  The Cycle of Water
 
Ecclesiastes 1:7 “All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.”
 
          The rivers and waters pour into the seas, but the sea remains the same.  Amazed at this, Solomon uses it as a picture of the remarkable and endless monotony of life without God.
 
          The wind, sun, and water, they’re all like life.  They come and they go, repeating themselves over and over, day in and day out.
          A mechanical monotony, a seeming futility when you consider it apart from God.
 
          Folks, it’s easy for even a Christian to get caught up in the morose thinking of a world that seems pointless.
 
          When we fail to remember God, we too can find ourselves as despondent as Solomon.
 
          Solomon talked about the futility of life and then He spoke about :
 
II.  The Frustration Of Life
 
          From the futility of life Solomon moves to the frustration of life.
 
Ecclesiastes 1:8 “All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.”
 
          This verse might be translated – “Life is B-O-R-I-N-G!  Everything is B-O-R-I-N-G!”
 
          Man is always looking for something new and better than the next thing to come along to fill the void we feel if we don’t know God.
 
          Reality TV!
          Always in search of the next bizarre TV show that will occupy our bored, restless hearts.
          The worst and most bizarre one today in my humble opinion is "Naked and Afraid."  Pray tell, why would anyone want to strip off naked and be left to try and survive. 
          This is the point to which the love of money will drive a person.
 
          I suppose the next form of the reality show will be the taking of a life.  Man has devolved to the point that we look upon the destruction of life as entertaining.
 
          Paul encountered the Athenians in Acts 17.  They spent their time talking about what’s new.
 
Acts 17:16-21"Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.  17  Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him. 18  Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.  19  And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is?  20  For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean. 21  (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)"
 
          Dr. J. Vernon McGee said, “If it’s new, it’s not true, and if it’s true, it’s not new.”  And folks He was right!
 
          The constant desire to acquire newer, better, bigger, and faster things is another evidence of our insatiable restlessness.  We get a better computer only to find out that when we got it home it’s outdated.
 
          We want a bigger house and a bigger car.
 
          Ill. -  We’re like the cow standing knee deep in green grass.
                -   She sticks her head through the fence and eats briars on the other side, simply because she is never satisfied.
 
          Folks, the heart apart from God cannot and will not be satisfied.
 
Ecclesiastes 1:9-11 “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. 10 Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us. 11 There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.”
 
          Not only is nothing fulfilling, nothing is fresh.
          Everything is stale.
          And it’s true, for there is nothing new under the sun.
 
          What God created in the beginning is all that has ever been created.  Anything we invent is just a rearrangement of something God has already created to meet a need we have.
 
          Solomon’s message is that nothing in this world can fulfill and satisfy the longings of your heart except God.
          Solomon has learned this from experience.
 
          Some of you here today have been searching for fulfillment in all sorts of things only to find that in the end you are worse off than when you began.
 
          The only way to experience the eternity God created you for is to allow the eternal God of Heaven to take up his residence in your heart through Jesus Christ.
 
John 10:10 “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
 
          Only Jesus can give you the life you were created to enjoy.
 
          You can end your search today by receiving Christ into your heart.  You can find the real meaning oflife as you walk with Him and fellowship with Him.
          Will you come to Him today?