Message Notes

Life In The Mist
What Does It All Mean?
Rev. Todd D. Cullen
October 25, 2020

Ecclesiastes Chapters 1 & 2

Chapter 1

King Solomon is the author of Ecclesiastes. 

Ecclesiastes 1:1 (ESV)
1 I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity.

King Solomon quickly introduces us to the Teacher.

Ecclesiastes 1:2 (ESV)
2 I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?”

Ecclesiastes is the Teacher’s reflections on life late in his life.

Ecclesiastes 1:2,12 (ESV)
2 I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?”
12 So I turned to consider wisdom and madness and folly. For what can the man do who comes after the king? Only what has already been done.

Life is meaningless.
Ecclesiastes 1:2 (ESV)
2 Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.

What do we gain from life? 

Ecclesiastes 1:3 (ESV)
3 What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?

Life is what it is.
Ecclesiastes 1:9 (ESV)
9 What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.

Life is boring.
Ecclesiastes 1:4-11 (ESV)
4 I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. 5 I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. 6 I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. 8 I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, the delight of the sons of man. 9 So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. 10 And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. 11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.

Wisdom leads to sorrow and knowledge leads to grief.

Ecclesiastes 1:18 (NIV)
18 For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.

Life, work and wisdom leads to nothing so where is the meaning in life?

The key question that is suggested in Ecclesiastes Chapter 1 & 2 is…

What does it all mean?

Chapter 2

1 - Pleasure is Meaningless
Every pleasure and seeking after every pleasure is meaningless.

Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 (ESV)
1 I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity. 2 I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” 3 I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life. 4 I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. 5 I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. 6 I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. 8 I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, the delight of the sons of man. 9 So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. 10 And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. 11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.

The teachers experimented in finding the meaning in life from...

  • Seeking pleasure and laughter.
  • Searching for happiness from wine mixed with wisdom.
  • Building great houses, gardens, parks and pools
  • Purchasing slaves and having slave families.
  • Acquiring herds and flocks of livestock.
  • Gathering silver, gold & treasure.
  • Collecting singers, entertainers and concubines.

We will not find the meaning of life from attaining or enjoying pleasure.

Ecclesiastes 2:10-11 (ESV)
10 And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. 11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.

2 - Wisdom is Meaningless
Wisdom and seeking after wisdom is meaningless.

Ecclesiastes 2:12-17 (ESV)
12 So I turned to consider wisdom and madness and folly. For what can the man do who comes after the king? Only what has already been done. 13 Then I saw that there is more gain in wisdom than in folly, as there is more gain in light than in darkness. 14 The wise person has his eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I perceived that the same event happens to all of them.15 Then I said in my heart, “What happens to the fool will happen to me also. Why then have I been so very wise?” And I said in my heart that this also is vanity. 16 For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. How the wise dies just like the fool! 17 So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind.

Wisdom is better than folly.

Ecclesiastes 2:13 (ESV)
13 Then I saw that there is more gain in wisdom than in folly, as there is more gain in light than in darkness.

Those who attain folly and those who attain wisdom all have the same fate...death, therefore even…

We will not find the meaning of life from attaining wisdom.  

Ecclesiastes 2:15 (ESV)
15 Then I said in my heart, “What happens to the fool will happen to me also. Why then have I been so very wise?” And I said in my heart that this also is vanity.

3 - Work is Meaningless
Work and the gain we receive from work is meaningless.

Ecclesiastes 2:18-23 (ESV)
18 I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me, 19 and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. 20 So I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labors under the sun, 21 because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. 22 What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? 23 For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity.

Since all of our work and its gain will one day be turned over to someone else then work and it’s gain is meaningless.

Ecclesiastes 2:18-21 (ESV)
18 I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me, 19 and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. 20 So I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labors under the sun, 21 because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil.

We will not find the meaning of life from work or it’s gain.

Ecclesiastes 2:22-23 (ESV)
22 What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? 23 For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity.

4 - The Results
The results of seeking for the meaning of life from pleasure, wisdom and work are not at all good.

Seeking after pleasure, wisdom and work to find meaning leads only to despair.

Ecclesiastes 2:17-18, 20 (ESV)
17 So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind. 18 I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me, 20 So I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labors under the sun,

5 - The Resolution
The phrases “under the sun” or “under the heavens” is mentioned 10 times in two chapters.

The Teacher is telling us that we will never find the meaning of life striving after such things...apart from God.

We will NEVER find the meaning of life striving after anything apart from God.

Ecclesiastes 2:24-25 (ESV)
24 There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, 25 for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?

Under the Sun v. Beyond the Sun

Are you looking for the meaning of life under or beyond the sun?