“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.”
It is hard to outline the book of Ecclesiastes. It would be like trying to outline your diary or your spiritual journal. But this simple outline might help you understand the book a little bit:
- Introduction (1:1-11)
- The futility of life (1:12-6:9)
- The futility of wisdom (6:10-11:6)
- The importance of serving God (11:7-12:14)
The theme of Ecclesiastes is found in the second verse of the book: “‘Vanity of vanities,’ says the Preacher, ‘Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.’” In other words, everything is meaningless.
You might say, “Pastor, that is the most depressing thing I have ever heard.” But there is one phrase you need to add to that, a phrase that is found twenty-nine times in Ecclesiastes: “under the sun.” Everything is meaningless under the sun. Solomon was talking about life apart from God. And when you look at life from that horizontal perspective, it does appear meaningless. It does appear that we are not getting anywhere. But then in chapter 12, we get Solomon’s “above the sun” perspective–life from God’s point of view. And we see the importance of devoting our lives to serving God.
What would your life be like if you had everything you wanted? Solomon said it would not be as great as you think it would be. But we do not have to go to Solomon to find out that truth. Even people today who have achieved success say it is not all it’s cracked up to be. Actor Jim Carrey once said in an interview, “I think everybody should get rich and famous and everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that that’s not the answer.”
Success is just fool’s gold. It is like a department store window that promises more than it can possibly deliver and exacts from us a price no one should have to pay.
Maybe you have achieved success–you have money, you have pleasure, you have power. Or maybe you lie awake at night wishing you had all those things. Either way, the book of Ecclesiastes will help you. It will help you make it through this life, it will help you think correctly about a world that has gone mad, and most of all, it will remind you that true satisfaction in life can come only from a right relationship with God.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Searching For The Good Life” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2009.
Jim Carrey, as quoted in Jay Stone, “Carrey’s Been Busted,” Ottawa Citizen, December 16, 2005.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.