January 2, 2023
Bishop, W. F. Houston, Jr.
Bible Study Reading: Ecclesiastes 1:12–18
Ecclesiastes 1:14 (NLT)
* I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind.
I was so relieved when my senior year ended, and it was time for me to take my final math class. When I first met my wife, I had no idea she was such a math nerd. When our kids were in high school, I would sit there and listen to her as she attempted to assist them with their mathematical assignments. One of the issues was that they thought math was irrelevant to what they wanted to accomplish in the future (and I used to have the same attitude!) Their motivation to learn and succeed was being reduced as a result.
The author of Ecclesiastes, who was most likely King Solomon, concluded that all human knowledge and everything that humans endeavor to achieve "under the sun" is both "meaningless, a chasing after the wind" (v. 14). After a lengthy investigation that included both scientific (v. 13) and philosophical considerations, he came to this conclusion (v. 17). How could one of the most brilliant individuals, who had been given the gift of insight from God (2 Chronicles 1), say something so foolish? He said this because everything that is earthbound and temporal ends in death, which means that all knowledge and actions that are essentially human are ultimately pointless.
Trying to find meaning or purpose "under the sun" is therefore a "heavy burden" (v. 13), which can also be translated as a "miserable task" or "unhappy business. The NLT Bible version puts it this way: “God has dealt a tragic existence to the human race.” In today's parlance, we refer to this as the "rat race." We are aware that this results from sin and death being introduced into the earth at the time of the Fall (Genesis 3).
Solomon's first aphorism is a concise statement of wisdom that might be paraphrased as "it is what it is" or "this reality cannot be changed" (v. 15). Nothing in this world, not even the most motivational quote online, can fill the void that is life. It’s odd because his second summary aphorism says that ignorance is happiness
(v. 18). Or, to put it another way, "Whoever gains his knowledge merely deepens his grief." However, we shouldn't give up. This assessment of everything "under the sun" is lacking God, our omnipotent and merciful Creator.
Our exploration will pick up again tomorrow.
*Beloved, now is the day to take stock of your life. Which aspects do you find to be "pointless and like chasing after the wind"? Is it because you have too high of expectations for yourself? Keep in mind that no knowledge or experience on this globe can ever really satisfy us.
Let Us Pray:
Dear Heavenly Father, examine our hearts today. Are we seeking meaning and fulfillment outside of You? Do our motives need to be realigned? Are we pursuing the right things for the right reasons? Lead us in righteousness. In Jesus’ Name Amen.