It’s All Meaningless 11? The Culture’s Creed (Ecclesiastes 8-11)
Final post in Ecclesiastes: The Culture’s Creed…& The Conclusion
Ecclesiastes 8:16-17: When I applied my mind to know wisdom
and to observe the labor that is done on earth—
people getting no sleep day or night— 17 then I saw all that God has done.
No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun.
Despite all their efforts to search it out, no one can discover its meaning.
Even if the wise claim they know, they cannot really comprehend it.
Amongst some Christians, there can exist an
acceptable agnosticism/post-modern skepticism:
the thought that we cannot really know anything for certain.
Thus there is a focus only on expressing each person’s perspective/opinion
as an end goal in itself,
rather than a search for Truth/what is right.
This is just what the ancient Greeks did—
they loved to discuss the latest ideas,
but they weren’t interested in actually finding the Truth (or submitting to it!),
they just liked to search/journey,
but never discover/arrive/settle down.
This acceptable agnosticism flows naturally into a “don’t judge” culture,
because by judging something we are landing, we are declaring Truth—
something is either wrong or right,
not just another option.
This also flows naturally into a church culture that doesn’t teach doctrine/Truth,
but simply uses some Bible verses (or not!) to teach general self-help principles.
Planting your flag on a particular interpretation/understanding of Truth
is looked down upon, seen as arrogant, dogmatic.
- Imagine if doctors believed like this!
We could never be diagnosed (Judgment!),
we could never be cured (Truth!)
But why is this terrible in the physical
but terrific in the spiritual?
Here’s an example of this:
postmodern thinking could make a compelling case
against parents’ chore list for kids:
- “Is the list authentic?
- Did the parents really write the list? Prove it!
- Analyze the handwriting and type of pen and paper used.
- Are chores—and lists in general!—oppressive for children?
All of these questions and more could be discussed for hours for the sake of discussion.
We can analyze all this, but deep down, our human nature remains:
We simply don’t want to do the chores…
Here’s a practical example of this: I had a conversation with a dear Christian once—
we were discussing what to do in a situation.
I gently pointed out a Bible passage to my friend & he said,
“Seems pretty clear right there. I have no way to argue against that.”
But then he paused & said:
“But how can we ever really know what that passage means?”
As we talked, it seemed as if he simply
didn’t want to act on what the passage clearly said…
& so he hid behind postmodern thinking: we can never really know the meaning.
This acceptable agnosticism has serious consequences
for whether we follow the Lord Jesus or
just talk about following Him.
My dear friends, our God is not a God of confusion!
- Yes we need to be humble & respectful & gentle in our search for the Truth,
- yes we need to remember that it is not WE who are right
but the LORD Who is right,
- yes we need to be patient with others when they don’t realize the Truth,
but all of that does not mean that we should deny that the Truth,
that correct interpretations of the Bible,
can be found & known & submitted to & lived out!
Assembly instructions imply that the instructions
can be rightly understood & acted on.
Thus God’s Word implies we can know Truth,
not just have a perspective/opinion.
John 8:32: “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Culture: [shrug] “Oh how can we ever know a Bible passage’s true meaning?
Everyone has their own valid perspective that is true for them.”
Bible: By God’s grace we can know the Truth…We’re commanded to seek & submit to it:
Deuteronomy 29:29: The secret things belong to the Lord our God,
but the things revealed
belong to us and to our children forever,
that we may follow all the words of this law.
Proverbs 23:23: Buy the truth and do not sell it—
wisdom, instruction and insight as well.
Proverbs 25:2: It is the glory of God to conceal a matter;
to search out a matter is the glory of kings.
We are to be God-searchers, Truth-seekers!
But the journey is NOT the destination (as important as it is)—
the destination is the destination—
we seek in order to eventually find & receive & believe & become!
Postmodernism talks about what might be true (for each person)
but avoids finding what is True for all.
The journey is the destination, they say.
But who pays for a vacation & only rides the airplane?
We eventually land somewhere.
Same with Truth. We either land on it or crash against it…
2 Timothy 2:15: Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved,
a worker who does not need to be ashamed
and who correctly handles the word of truth
[or rightly divides the word of truth].
2 Corinthians 4:1-3: Therefore, since thru God’s mercy we have this ministry,
we do not lose heart.
2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways;
we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God.
On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly
we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.
3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.
Mark 12:24-27: 24 Jesus replied, “Are you not in error
because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?
25 When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage;
they will be like the angels in heaven.
26 Now about the dead rising—
have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the account of the burning bush,
how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?
27 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.
You are badly mistaken!”
[The Lord Jesus critiqued the Sanhedrin’s interpretation of the Bible–
He said they were wrong, badly mistaken regarding the resurrection.
Oh how the culture recoils from such absolute Truth!]
Luke 10:25-28: 25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus.
“Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God
with all your heart and with all your soul
and with all your strength and with all your mind’;
and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
The Lord Jesus asks a man’s interpretation of Scripture,
the man replies &
Christ says he answered correctly—
Truth, correct interpretation, not just one opinion among many.
Here’s another passage from Solomon
that we can compare to modern pop culture beliefs:
Ecclesiastes 9:7-10:7 Go, eat your food with gladness,
and drink your wine with a joyful heart,
for God has already approved what you do.
8 Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil.
9 Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love,
all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—
all your meaningless days.
For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun.
10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might,
for in the realm of the dead, where you are going,
there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.
Culture: Life is short: play hard.
What you see is all there is—make the most of it! Just do it.
- Run hard & fast
(don’t worry where your running will take you!);
- be dedicated to your passions,
(don’t worry about whether or not your passions are worth being dedicated to);
(don’t worry about whether it is right or not).
Bible: Life on earth is short, but eternity is long!
Get right with God! Be reconciled to Him!
Don’t build your life on what you do
but on what He has done thru the cross & empty tomb!
Yes run hard…but not the American Rat Race—
run the race Jesus has marked out for you, fixing your eyes on Him & His suffering! (Hebrews 12) Run hard to thank Him for His free grace, not earn it!
“’If you board the wrong train,
it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
My dear friends, the modern culture focuses only on changing seats/the view in life…
or earning the luxury liner train (though it is headed for a cliff!);
Christ can get you on a different train & railroad track entirely
with a new Conductor—and a ticket that is entirely paid for!
Another statement from Solomon to compare to modern culture:
Ecclesiastes 10:19: A feast is made for laughter, wine makes life merry,
and money is the answer for everything.
heavenly Father, show us the ways that we have gone off the rails like Solomon…
Culture: The one who dies with the most toys wins.
Bible: The one who dies with the most toys is dead and cannot enjoy the toys.
Matthew 16:24-26: 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples,
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves
and take up their cross and follow me.
25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it,
but whoever loses their life for me will find it.
26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?
Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?
Matthew 6:19-21:“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,
where moths and vermin do not destroy,
and where thieves do not break in and steal.
21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:31-33: So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’
or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
32 For the pagans run after all these things [American rat race!],
and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness [seek the LORD Himself!],
and all these things will be given to you as well.
Last Point: Ecclesiastes 11:9: 9 You who are young, be happy while you are young,
and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth.
Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see,
but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.
Culture: Being young is the best; as you get older,
continually try to look & feel & act young.
Bible: Proverbs 31:30: Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Culture: Follow your heart!
Bible: Don’t follow your heart–you need to get a new heart!
The word “heart” appears 725x in the Bible (please click HERE).
God has much to say about our hearts, & as you read these passages,
the last thing you’ll want to do is blindly follow your own heart;
by God’s grace, hopefully you’ll want a new heart!
(Which is exactly what happens when we receive the Lord Jesus as our Savior & King!)
My dear friends, don’t trust your gut when you’re lost—
follow the GPS: God’s Perfect Scripture!
Jeremiah 4:14: Jerusalem, wash the evil from your heart and be saved.
How long will you harbor wicked thoughts?
Jeremiah 17:9: The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?
That’s why Christ gives us a new heart, not a cured old one!
Don’t follow what you feel in your heart,
but follow what God has revealed in His Word!
Proverbs 3:5-7: Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.
Final words/summary of Solomon in Ecclesiastes 12:11-14:
11 The words of the wise are like goads,
their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one shepherd.
12 Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them.
Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.
13 Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.
14For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.
My dear friends,
- fear God by running TO Him, not away from Him,
- fear the LORD by hiding IN Him, not hiding FROM Him,
- fear the LORD by surrendering to His Son,
Who alone has perfectly kept His Father’s commandments.
The Gospel–the conclusion & the beginning!
The Lord Jesus, the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end!!!