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Lowell Brueckner

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Ecclesiastes 1:1-7


The Vanity of Life on Earth from an individual perfectly qualified to write of it

Chapter 1

1.  The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. 
2.  Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. 
3.  What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun? 

Liberal minds pervert society in general, along with its politics and religion. I am convinced that they enter the world of religion, prepared and energized by the devil to be his advocates and disrupt the quest of the one seeking for truth. They have no part or parcel with the things of God. They ignore His ways and attempt to fit their mindset into a sphere that is completely opposite the one, in which they live. They exist in the realm of twisted human logic and reasoning, rather than in the kingdom of healthy faith.

As they try to date the book of Daniel much later than when it actually was written and attribute the authorship to someone, living between the Old and New Testaments, so they meddle with the book of Ecclesiastes. They allege also that it was written at a much later date by someone other than King Solomon. These claims are easily refuted by good theologians, who take the text at face value, giving credit to the claims of the authors and the setting, in time and place, which they designate. To do otherwise is to tamper with divine inspiration.

Somewhat less dangerous critics try to assert that Solomon wrote the book before his fall, doubting that God would restore his inspiration after the fall, which seems to me ridiculous, in the light of the context, concerning the experiences of his entire life. He speaks of turning away from his earlier pursuits of earthly things and expresses the mentality of a king, who is thinking differently. In short, he is manifesting repentance. Charles Finney felt that Solomon wrote his Song of Songs, lastly, after his repentance, having received a tremendous revelation of Christ and His Church. That seems to me much more consistent with the nature of God and the spirit of the gospel, which, even in the Old Testament, strives to bring every story to a close in grace, which brings glory to God.

Still others, speak of Solomon, as a dejected character, writing the treatise in a depression, seeing things from a very melancholy standpoint. This is only true, concerning the position, about which he writes, that is, “under the sun”, and from that point of view, he is entirely justified in writing negatively. It does not mean that Solomon did not believe in a hope beyond the sun, which is obtained through the heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

King Solomon proclaimed himself a preacher and it is possible that he convened an assembly in Israel for the purpose of expounding the truth that is written in Ecclesiastes. Even as the chief end of the Law was to bring people under conviction and condemnation for sin, so the purpose of this preacher was to show the vanity of finding satisfaction from temporal things. The message was particularly directed towards the youth: Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment” (11:9), and "Remember also they Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, 'I have no pleasure in them'" (12:1).

The book climaxes with this noble advice: "The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil” (12:13-14). It is at this point that we can go to the gospel to learn about the salvation that God offers to the penitent sinner, who has turned from the world to the cross.  

The gospel is proclaimed by preaching and this kind of preaching is largely rejected by society. People still say, “Don’t preach at me!” Solomon is a preacher, endeavoring to keep others, particularly young people, from following his example. He is highly qualified; as a king, he has vast experience. He is a repentant preacher; a dying man, preaching to dying men, against the transient life under the sun. These are lessons from a man, who knows what it is to hit bottom. It is the state of one, who has found the treasures of this world unfulfilling. God has a primary lesson for the vast majority of the population of the earth – all is vanity!

Depressing Cycles

4. A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. 
5.  The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises. 
6.  The wind blows to the south and goes around to the north; around and around goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns. 
7.  All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again. 

We remember learning of cycles in our earliest Science classes in grade school. We were taught that Earth rotates on its axis and revolves around the sun. The rotation of the earth is the study of the daily cycle and one revolution around the sun gives us a yearly cycle. We learned to understand the water cycle and the air cycle exactly as this ancient king of Israel did.

Solomon saw that the air moves in circuits, whirling round and round. It whirls clockwise out of a high pressure area (in the northern hemisphere) and counter-clockwise into a low pressure area (just the opposite in the southern hemisphere). This movement of air is called wind. Air is forced out of a high pressure area, the pressure lowers in that area until air begins to be sucked into it again. This science has existed for thousands of years; since the fall of man, at least, the monotonous air currents continue, and nothing new ever happens.

The water cycle is similar. All rivers flow into the ocean, never from the ocean. Yet, Solomon observed, even though the rivers flow continuously, the over-all water mass of the sea does not grow, nor do the seas overflow and cover the land. He saw the process of evaporation and how the moisture formed clouds. The clouds are carried inland, become heavy and dump their moisture, in various forms of precipitation, over the mountains. Water collects from numerous streamlets, which run down the slopes of the mountains, until rivers form and flow down to the sea. The cycle repeats itself again and again and again.

From our earthly point of view any place on the planet, the sun rises in the east, moves to the west, where it sets. Hours later, it appears in the east again and the daily cycle continues 365 times a year. All cycles are depressing, because they do not move in a straight line towards a final goal. They are simply circles that have no beginning and no end. They never fulfil a satisfying purpose, but only repeat continuously a monotonous course.

Perhaps I have forgotten, but I don’t recall studying the generation cycle in school. It is the most depressing of all. To the joy of few or many, a baby comes into the world. It grows and learns, crawls and walks, matures and marries. That individual, let’s say a man, arises with the sun on its daily cycle, eats breakfast, goes to work, takes a break and eats at noon, then finishes working his required time. He arrives home and eats dinner, watches some TV and reads the paper, perhaps, and then goes to bed. The following day, he repeats the cycle without much variation.

What motivates him to continue the cycle? He looks forward to the weekend of relaxation and recreation, only to return to work for another week. Is there anything besides this routine for him? Oh yes, there is a yearly vacation to which he can look forward. He has a week or two, maybe three, in which he can go with his spouse and family, if he has one, to another scene, of which he is unfamiliar (though the natives there are very familiar with it). There he can do things, which he is not accustomed to do (although the local people do them continually). After that, he goes back to work, repeating the annual cycle, as the earth revolves around the sun again and again.

Is there anything else in life for him? Of course, he can look forward to retirement, to some years (he doesn’t know how many) in which he can do as he pleases, if his health continues and if he has stored up enough finances over the many years of labor. Now what lies in the future for him? One by one, the death of his friends and relatives takes place, and then the death of his wife or of himself, whichever occurs first. He comes to the end of the generation cycle. In the meantime, new babies are born, starting another generation… “a generation comes and a generation goes,” says Solomon. Is there anyone foolish enough to debate the issue with him?

That’s it, folks, as far as life goes “under the sun”. Whether our institutions of learning study the generation cycle or not, or however unpleasant the subject is and however unwilling we are to face it, the Bible brings us into a confrontation with it. Why? Because our Creator will have us face reality, rather than escaping it through a dreamy process of diabolical deception, and look to Him for something beyond the sun. Therefore, He gives us the life of Solomon and the message of the Preacher. The theme is vanity of vanities, all is vanity under the sun! Take away the gospel and the person of Jesus Christ and vanity is all that is left.



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