Solomon is right!
Recently I have been studying through the book of Ecclesiastes, found in the Old Testament of our bible. It was written by King Solomon, a man well known for his wealth and power (as well as his many wives). He is regarded as one of the wisest men in history. God had blessed him with a wise and understanding heart unlike anyone before him. He was incredibly wealthy, often cited by historical scholars as the wealthiest person to ever live. When we think of wealthy titans of industry our minds gravitate towards names like Rockefeller (340 billion dollars), Jeff Bezos (105 billion dollars), or Bill Gates (100 billion dollars). According to Market Watch, Solomon had amassed a fortune estimated near 2.2 trillion dollars! To put that in perspective think of it like this; one million seconds is about 11 days. One billion seconds is about 31 years. One trillion seconds is roughly 31,709 years! He was not in need of money. Why then, when he wrote the book of Ecclesiastes, does he start off by writing, “Vanity of vanities! Everything is Vanity!” Everything is meaningless. Not exactly the way you want to start a book, especially a book of the bible. Here is what he says in its full context:
The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem: Meaningless! Meaningless! “says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” 3 What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun? 4 Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. 5 The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. 6 The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. 7 All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again. 8 All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. 9 What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. 10 Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time. 11 No one remembers the former generations, and even those yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow them. Wisdom Is Meaningless. 12 I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens. What a heavy burden God has laid on mankind! 14 I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
How many of us feel the exact same way? Each and every day is as repetitive as the cycle of the sun. The day starts, the day ends, and then we get back up and do it all over again. Maybe most of the time we feel as directionless as the wind. We are trying to keep up with everything and it spins us in circles, leaving us feeling lost. Or perhaps all of our energy, our time, our efforts flow like a river into the sea, and yet the sea is never full, it never overflows, we are always pouring out more and more of ourselves. Solomon even goes as far as to say that someday we are no longer going to be impressed by the things we see or hear, it will just be another empty thing. But notice Solomon uses a key phrase when describing these things, these emotions. He always describes these things as being, “under the sun.” Everything under the sun is an ancient way of saying “earthly”, or of this world. Solomon says that all of our work, all of our effort under the sun is worthless. It is worthless if it is not tethered to our Heavenly Father.
Our days are repetitive and empty if our meaning and worth is not tied to God. We are directionless and wandering if we are not following closely to God. We will feel drained as we continue to pour ourselves out if we never seek to be filled up by our Heavenly Father. Solomon is saying that everything here on earth, apart from God, is meaningless. If Christ has not rescued us from our brokenness, then all we do means nothing. Apart from Jesus, our work, our relationships, our efforts are empty. The good news is God has rescued us! We are not limited to an “under the sun” perspective of the world around us and our place in it. As Christians, we know that everything finds its meaning in Jesus. Our lives should be anything but repetitive, unfulfilled, or monotonous when each day is lived with God’s purpose in mind. Don’t get stuck feeling like life is empty. There is hope in Jesus who gives light and life.