The book of Ecclesiastes is a book within a book within a book. We have the bible, and there is the book of Ecclesiastes inside the bible, and inside the book of Ecclesiastes is a book by this man called “Preacher”. We come to the part written by this preacher, who is a wise old man who had his fill of life. He has been there, done that, he has done everything you could imagine but he is now jaded and disappointed in life.
Ecclesiastes 12:8 (ESV) Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity.
The word “vanity” in Hebrew is hebel, which means vanity, meaninglessness, futility, but literally in its plainest form it means mist or vapour. Mists are there for a moment and goes away. Why should we even look at this book of Ecclesiastes?
Firstly, it is the Word of God written in the bible, and secondly it talks about the real problem that needs fixing today. This passage is both the diagnosis and the cure.
Youths rejoice but the problem is the lack of boundaries, lack of judgment, lack of hope. The achievements you celebrated, how do we stop that happy moment from slipping into meaninglessness? We need 3 things:
When we rejoice in the Lord, we receive blessings within the boundaries, joy within the judgment, and hope within the hoariness.
1. Blessings within the boundaries
Youths are known for their ambition, energy, curiosity and raging hormones. The preacher tells us to rejoice in that.
Ecclesiastes 11:9 (ESV) Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.
Rejoice that your heart is healthy and you are full of energy. Rejoice in your curiosity about the world. They are all good things. But in order for them to remain as good things, they need to be within their proper boundaries. Even a good thing becomes bad when you do not keep the proper boundaries.
Boundaries are anything that marks a border. Boundaries are about learning to say no to things. Boundaries are about rejoicing in things according to what they deserve, not more not less. Boundaries uphold the proper order of things in our lives.
There are blessings within the boundaries. We must not let the things of this world invade into the things of God, but firmly establish our heart to the Lord and establish our boundary to God.
2. Joy within the Judgment
The anthem of the world is called expressive individualism, which is the idea that unless you express your heart’s desires in your life and in society, you are oppressed, you are inauthentic, you are not truly living, therefore you should rejoice in your desires above anything else. This is a promise of joy in self expression.
The preacher said in Ecclesiastes 2:10-11, worldly pleasure endures only for a moment but true joy lasts forever. The world is only about quick momentary satisfaction and instant gratification.
The solution is we need to turn God’s judgment into something we can look forward to, something we can rejoice in. We can prepare for judgment by knowing and learning the heart of God, and learning to see things His way.
We must not rejoice in the things of the world before rejoicing in the things of God. When we delight ourselves in the Lord, then the Lord’s judgment becomes something we can look forward to. Instead of it being a dreadful thing looming over us in the future, we can yearn for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ without fear.
3. Hope within the hoariness
As we age, and grow old, we can have hope. The preacher has already told us to rejoice in our youth, follow our heart, while keeping the judgment of the Lord in mind.
Ecclesiastes 12:1-2 (ESV) Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; 2 before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain,
Evil is talking about pain, the days of pains and aches. While we are young and able bodied, we need to remember our creator.
Where can we find hope in hoariness when we cannot find any more pleasure in this world? Only in the Lord. Only when we believe in Jesus Christ can death become a passageway for us into eternal life.
Remember your creator in the days of your youth. We must join ourselves to the Creator to prepare for our hope in our old age.
To the younger generation in our congregation, we need to learn what it means to rejoice in the Lord and to delight in His ways. We must not rejoice over the fleeting things of this world but must prioritise worship service, even if we are feeling tired or unmotivated. Or even when we have something else going on. Things of this world will take more and more land from the part of your heart that belongs to God. To fight that, we need to stop things of this world from claiming more land from our heart, and secure more land for the kingdom of God. We need to learn what it means to deny ourselves, pick up our cross and follow Jesus.
When we rejoice in the Lord, we receive blessings within boundaries, joy within judgment, and hope within hoariness of time.