Ecclesiastes is an interesting book. I guess it’s a trend for me, because I’ve blogged on it here and here. I’ve always enjoyed the verses on a time for everything, but everything else is so… morbid, hopeless, meaningless.
The word meaningless, used so much in the book, is actually the word hevel. Hevel is actually so much deeper. It literally means vapor or smoke. Life is temporary and fleeting, but also an enigma and paradox. Life is unstable and unpredictable.
So, basically, no matter what we do, it all amounts to nothing. The money we earn, the friendships we make, the fun we have, all amount to dust at the end. Such an encouragement, right?
“All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.”
Ecclesiastes 3:20 NIV
“Everyone comes naked from their mother’s womb, and as everyone comes, so they depart. They take nothing from their toil that they can carry in their hands.”
Ecclesiastes 5:15 NIV
I think a lot of us feel like this at times. Especially when things have gone bad, we think the whole world is against us. It’s easy to let your attitude get bad. Growing up when I would play golf, I’d hit a bad shot and get a bad break. This bad break would turn into self-pity and wreck my round. I’d either shoot really well or really bad. I still have a little self-pity, but I’ve gotten better about it. But, I think everyone battles with this a bit, because we’re so quick to compare ourselves to others.
I’d hope this isn’t the only lesson of a book of the Bible, right? That everything you do amounts to nothing?
But after this point in the book, at least to me, everything gets good, though you have to dig deep to get to what the author intends.
“When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future.”
Ecclesiastes 7:14 NIV
God knows all, God controls all. This is the ultimate hope. God in control.
“As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.”
Ecclesiastes 11:5-6 NIV
And we cannot understand it. This means God doesn’t expect us to understand it. What freedom should that bring us?
Ultimately, I think the takeaway is this:
“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 NIV
Fear God and keep his commands. Through this, an accounting will come. The only conclusion is to live your life the best you can. If only his commandments matter, all that matters are lives changed for Him. The only thing that truly matters. In all things, in every pursuit, God has to be the reason.
Again, if we don’t have control, what is there to fret about? If we don’t have control, we’re left with two things: fear God and keep his commands. This should free us up to pursue God every day, all day.