Satisfying routine monotony ∙
The conclusion, when all has been heard, is to fear God and keep His commandments because this applies to every person. – Ecclesiastes 12:13
1 Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Two rather lethargic high school dullards stumbled into their classroom before the other students arrived. There written on the blackboard was one word: A P A T H Y.
One turned to the other and said, “what does that mean?”
The other answered, “who cares?”
The times in which we live are filled with great concern for the future and the well-being of our families and society. Yet, at the same time, there is excessive withdrawal, isolation, and apathy.
The Father in His wisdom and foresight, led Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, to write Ecclesiastes. It examines the futility of life, despair, and apathy. It is depressive yet ends with great optimism presenting the Father’s blueprint for experiencing ultimate meaning and purpose. “Thus, the dominant mood of the book is pessimism, but the author, Solomon, was no pessimist, cynic, or skeptic as some critics have claimed” (Glenn). His search succeeds. He reveals the answer he discovered in the final chapter. Solomon expresses his faith and confidence in the Father.
Because of the largely pessimistic tone of the book, Ecclesiastes is often passed over and neglected. What a tragic mistake!
It does not present Truth, in a traditional sense. Rather it presents the search for truth. It is a mental journey. To get to the truth requires contemplation, patience, and a bit of reverse engineering. It is not about simply believing and accepting Solomon’s thoughts and conclusions. Rather, to glean Solomon’s wisdom requires recognizing and identifying with Solomon’s stream of consciousness and thought process. He invites the reader to enter into his thought process and follow along.
Ecclesiastes chronicles Solomon’s blind, yet systematic search for meaning and purpose in the world and culture in which he lived. He experiments with everything he can get his hands on to no avail. “Ecclesiastes could be accurately described as a report on the failed quest for eternal life” (Garrett). Solomon demonstrates the futility of “all human effort to provide any real meaning, value, or significance to their lives ‘under the sun’ and to drive them to trust in God alone” (Glenn). Nothing on earth satisfies the deep hunger and thirst of his soul, spirit, and mind. No created thing provides what he was seeking. That is Solomon’s intent.
Life without the Father just does not “work,” even if one can manage to accumulate wealth, fame, popularity, and power (Stanley).
However, after years of wandering in the wilderness of despair, confusion, and disillusionment, applying due diligence and contemplation, Solomon finally discovers what brings meaning and purpose to life on planet Earth. He emerges triumphantly confident. He expresses his credo regarding the purpose of life as follows.
Ecclesiastes 12:13 When all is said and done, here is my final conclusion: revere God and observe his commands, this is everyone’s duty.
REFLECT & PRAY
Ecclesiastes speaks volumes to our increasingly secular, pagan society and the negative miasmas of our times.
Father, it is so easy to be discouraged, encourage me to persevere knowing that the final destination is to revere You and follow Your instructions.
Ecclesiastes is one man’s journey seeking meaning and satisfaction. But Solomon’s search for understanding goes on chapter after chapter as though he is an atheist. His search does not include or take advantage of the knowledge provided by the Father. His efforts demonstrate that without the Father and His perspective, life has no meaning. His frequent refrain is “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 1:2).
Other translations put it like this:
“Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!” (NLT).
“Futile! Futile!” laments the Teacher, “Absolutely futile! Everything is futile!” (NET).
Solomon’s search to find satisfaction in life ended magnificently. Ecclesiastes reconstructs his quest from the vantage point of one who finally found the answers! The search itself chronicles frustration, contradiction, and a jumble of dead ends. Ecclesiastes recreates his agonizing and exasperating journey with all of the angst involved. Is it sad, conflicted, and often contradictory.
His approach is to present his ideas and musings in such a way to allow others to identify with him. The book is intentionally gritty and keeps the reader on edge.
The Ecclesiastes opens with the writer complaining about the endless cycles of daily human life as futile and meaningless.
Ecclesiastes 1:9 History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new.
Life is full of tasks, that once done are never really done. They have to be repeated over and over again. Some are routine and simple; others are sheer drudgery and distasteful. It only takes a bit of visualization and imagination to recall to mind onerous repetitive tasks one has endured.
Is there any beauty or fulfillment to be found in mundane, monotonous routines? Consider Paul’s words to the Colossians.
23 Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather for people.
24 Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.
To realize this in our lives requires a perspective transformation. While the apostle Paul is talking about the first-century servants in a traditional sense, the principles apply to present-day employees. As children of the King, we should strive to be the best workers in our companies. We should follow guidelines and not argue. We do not simply serve our boss, but also the Lord Jesus Christ. Our ultimate reward comes not from our earthly boss but rather from the Lord Jesus Christ (Wiersbe).
Ecclesiastes 12:14 God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.