Ecclesiastes 2:1-11”A Mountaintop Perspective On Pleasure”

We have cravings for food, we have cravings for intimacy and we have soul cravings, cravings in the mysterious, non physical part of us. How do we satisfy those cravings?  We live in a world which tells us pleasure – enjoyed to the fullest – is the answer. But is it? The Preacher in Ecclesiastes confronts this head on, saying instead that those things will not satisfy in the long run.  What then does satisfy the cravings of our heart?
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I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity.[a] I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life. I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines,[b] the delight of the sons of man.  So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. 10 And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. 11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 1:12-18, 2:12-17 “The Pursuit of Wisdom”

Like many of us, the Preacher in Ecclesiastes has been trying to understand the world he lives in. In order to do this he sets out to pursue  truth, wisdom and understanding. The only problem is, the more he sees, the more he is grieved, perplexed and humbled. He quickly realises, that despite learning things, both wise and foolish, he still has a finite ability to understand the perplexing world he lives in. The question then becomes, why would God allow this to happen to him? We see that God allows this to happen to people so that we can truly realise we are not the all knowing God – either as an individual or corporately. This, in a surprising way encourages us to trust in the Lord who does know all things, who is infinitely wise and who has shown us his wisdom in Jesus Christ, the Son.

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Ecclesiastes 1:12-18, 2:12-17

12 I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I applied my heart[f] to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 14 I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity[g] and a striving after wind.[h]

15 What is crooked cannot be made straight,
    and what is lacking cannot be counted.

16 I said in my heart, “I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind.

18 For in much wisdom is much vexation,
    and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.

12 So I turned to consider wisdom and madness and folly. For what can the man do who comes after the king? Only what has already been done. 13 Then I saw that there is more gain in wisdom than in folly, as there is more gain in light than in darkness.14 The wise person has his eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I perceived that the same event happens to all of them. 15 Then I said in my heart, “What happens to the fool will happen to me also. Why then have I been so very wise?” And I said in my heart that this also is vanity. 16 For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. How the wise dies just like the fool! 17 So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind.

 

Psalm 16:8

Throughout life we will often encounter trials and difficulties.  Today’s sermon looks at how Psalm 16:8 encourages us to always set the Lord before us and that because he is at our right hand, we can rest in him.

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Psalm 16:8

I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

John 14:25-31

Jesus continues to encourage and comfort his disciples in the upper room before he leaves them and heads to the cross. In his comfort he encourages them that he is the peace maker with God therefore they are right with God in him. And he encourages them that he gives them his peace, the peace he enjoys in relationship with God the Father, both applied by the Holy Spirit to comfort them as they face opposition and hardship in this life.

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John 14:25-31

25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.

Ecclesiastes 1:3-11

On the surface it appears that reading through the Book of Ecclesiastes would deflate, even the most bouncy, cup ‘half-full’, optimist.
On the surface it seems to sure up the foundations of those who possess a more ‘depressive skeptic’ personality type.
The Preacher speaks of vanity, he is saying, it’s futile to try and find true gain or ultimate fulfilment in the things we’re toiling towards
Fulfilment and true gain is something we can only experience once we are in a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, we see this in the invitation made by Jesus to those who are oppressed by their toil – he invites them to find rest in him.
Matthew 11 28-30
28 pCome to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”.
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Ecclesiastes 1:3-11

What does man gain by all the toil

    at which he toils under the sun?
A generation goes, and a generation comes,
    but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises, and the sun goes down,
    and hastens[a] to the place where it rises.
The wind blows to the south
    and goes around to the north;
around and around goes the wind,
    and on its circuits the wind returns.
All streams run to the sea,
    but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
    there they flow again.
All things are full of weariness;
    a man cannot utter it;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
    nor the ear filled with hearing.
What has been is what will be,
    and what has been done is what will be done,
    and there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there a thing of which it is said,
    “See, this is new”?
It has been already
    in the ages before us.
11 There is no remembrance of former things,[b]
    nor will there be any remembrance
of later things[c] yet to be
    among those who come after.