It was always my intention to write an evangelistic leaflet using the Biblical book of Ecclesiastes–well here it is! May it challenge you if you are not a follower of Jesus and even if you are!
What will you have to show for your life at the end of it? Has it been spent in vain? The writer of Ecclesiastes in the Bible is very frank concerning so much of what we pursue in this world—it is all vain and counts for nothing! The world is full of vanities—riches, possessions, fame, business success, sexual pleasure and entertainment. Sadly many are enslaved to these vanities and they will take nothing of eternal value to their graves, indeed they will suffer God’s righteous wrath for living life apart from him! They spend most of their waking lives glued to screens. That is why the Psalmist prayed, “Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity.”
Nothing lasts—death is the ultimate leveller and humiliation for the pride of man. Pleasures are all fleeting!
There are two words for vanity in the Old Testament—HABEL meaning empty (the word used throughout Ecclesiastes, not necessarily implying anything sinful, and SHAV meaning evil, idolatrous, useless and false which applies to the sinful acts of men.
Since the fall of man God has subjected his creation to vanity (Romans 8:20) meaning that everything done on earth, apart from the building of his kingdom, is vain, and cannot ever satisfy man. No lasting joy, peace, or satisfaction apart from God! But what God does (through his people) lasts (Ecclesiastes 3:14). That is why for believers we must seek to obey all God’s laws (Ecclesiastes 12:13) and set our affections on things above (Colossians 3:2). We can and do lay up treasure in heaven as we seek those things that are above, meaning Christ and his kingdom.
But we do have to recognise that this obsession with vain things is by nature, since the fall, absolutely ingrained in our lives—it was the sight of the fruit and desire for intellectual ability (whether good or evil) that excited Eve and still excites us as Paul says to the Ephesian Christians that they once had lived, “in the lusts of your flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind;”
Only Jehovah God can turn our eyes from vanity. Only through the cross of Christ and the conviction of the Holy Spirit, bringing repentance and faith to his people , do we begin to see what really is important and begin to look at the things which are eternal (II Corinthians 4:18). Then we will seek to lay up treasure in heaven that will last and have eternal reward. God himself along with a place in the new heavens and earth is our inheritance. Eternal friendship with God almighty is infinitely more valuable than anything else! How long will you pursue emptiness? Make this your heartfelt prayer, “Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken me in thy way.” (Psalm 119:37). Seek the Lord Jesus Christ in his word, the Bible and a true church that believes that God is sovereign.
Acknowledgement must be made of the lead article in the Protestant Reformed Standard Bearer of January 1st 2016 by Rev. Michael De Vries.