The Preacher yesterday let us know that this book is a record of how he set out “to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven.” And he concluded, “It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with.”
He found that wisdom is “but a striving after wind. For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.” He tested pleasure and found “this is also vanity. I said of laughter, ‘It is mad,’ and of pleasure, ‘What use is it?’” Then he focused on producing great works: “I built houses and planted vineyards…I made myself gardens and parks...I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces…” But considering all that his hands had done, and all the toil he had expended doing it, he accepted that “all was vanity and striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.”
The topic of toil comes up often in Ecclesiastes’ middle section, but it feels like this is just a symptom of the core issue that torments the Preacher’s mind. Time, history, legacy, significance… these are some of the words that come to mind as the waves of lament come. Notice the words that come into your own mind as you read, and again, be attentive to your emotions. Remember that the Preacher is on a journey, that you’re allowed to question his deductions, wrestle with his conclusions, and present your own answer to the question: “What gain has the worker from his toil?”
Now before you head off to read “For everything, there is a season…,” I want to remind you of the Preacher’s final words yesterday: “For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.”
Our verse for this week is Ephesians 6:12: For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Ecclesiastes 3 through 7. Now let’s read it!
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.