King Solomon, the preacher, outlines the main message of his book of wisdom right at the start, “ Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?” (Chapter 1:2,3). He goes on to show that much, perhaps all, that happens on earth under the sun is cyclical. Generations of men and women come and go, the sun rises and sets, weather systems are spirals, “ wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.”
Then there’s the water cycle:
” All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.”
And the menstrual cycle! The cycle of the seasons, the moon, the orbits of the planets…one could go on and on!
History repeats itself, “ The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.”
His conclusion regarding the work of men under the sun is that it is all in vain and has no eternal benefit and he is correct when one only thinks of earthly work without any relation to God who is above the sun. Life without God may well be cyclical leading nowhere and with no lasting benefit but life with God is linear, leading to glory and bearing eternal fruit along the way. So jumping to the end of the book he ends, ” Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” When one does this life is not in vain, we can expect a “well done” for our stewardship and Paul expected a crown of glory which among other things comprised many of his spiritual children (I Thess. 2:19).