What do you think of verse two below that everything is meaningless?
1The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem:
2 “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”
3 What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun?
4 Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever.
5 The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises.
6 The wind blows to the south and turns to the north;
round and round it goes, ever returning on its course.
7 All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from, there they return again.
8 All things are wearisome, more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing.
9 What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one can say,
“Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time.
11 No one remembers the former generations, and even those yet to come
will not be remembered by those who follow them.
First words are special aren’t they? There’s the feelings of joy when your child begins to utter, “ma-ma” or “da-da” – those first words. And first words are just as important growing up, too. First words are important when you come to sit for a job interview. First words are important in that nerve-racking moment when you ask the parents for her hand in marriage.
So it’s surprising to hear these first words here at the beginning of Ecclesiastes. We’re introduced to the main character in this story, The Teacher, and his first words to us are something to behold. He says, “Meaningless! Meaningless!…Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless” (1:2).
What do you think of that? Everything is meaningless. It’s a phrase you hear a lot in the book of Ecclesiastes. The word, meaningless, means something like “breath” or “vapour”. The picture of life given to us in Ecclesiastes is like the breath that comes from your mouth on a cold winter morning, quickly fading to a mist in the air. He relates to life as fleeting, temporary, and futile – a grinding cycle of work and toil:
“All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing” (1:8).
This strikes a chord with me in times when life feels tiring. When the grinding cycle is part of everyday experience. It’s the feeling you get when it’s Monday again and the alarm is going off. Times like this are incredibly draining – physically, mentally and spiritually.
It’s comforting that Jesus knows we go through these times that overwhelm us, and he also gives us a wonderful promise,
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest…” (Matt. 11:28)
In the busyness of life, it’s comforting knowing that your salvation is founded in you resting in Jesus. Resting in Jesus’ finished work on the cross – which means we don’t have to strive in vain to earn something we could never hope to reach. Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection – I am set free to rest.
Head: How do you relate to the experience of life that is fleeting, temporary, and futile?
Heart: How does the cross shape your attitude to work, and the busyness of life?
Hands: How can you take time to rest in Jesus when life is overwhelming?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank you that you have given us many good gifts to enjoy in this life, and that life itself is a precious gift. Thank you especially for the gift of Jesus, and that he died and rose again to pay the penalty for my sin. Thank you for the new life I have in Christ. By your Spirit, I pray that you would be a present comfort when life feels overwhelming. Help me to keep growing by resting in what Jesus had done for me. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.
A song to listen to: You Alone Can Rescue
This Grow Daily was originally posted as part of the Must See Passages series in 2016. During the School Holidays we take the opportunity to look back at the best of Grow Dailys over the years.