VII. The Sermon: Why Monty Python, LiLo, Brangelina and Hef Don’t Get It. – Reverend Kyle McClellan, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church – The Sermon Passage: Ecclesiastes 2:1-11
The Big Idea: While enjoying the good gifts of God’s creation and creating culture, we must be careful not to divorce gift from Giver.
I. “And now for something completely different” (vv. 1-2).
1:12 starts this book with his thesis and this section begins his second argument. All is vanity is his thesis. The first example is the folly of earthly wisdom. The second argument is the vanity he found after seeking pleasure specifically in four types of pleasure.
The Monty Python group had a film called, “And now for something completely different”. Though their humor is borderline brilliant and top 50 of all time comics, we see that if everything is funny, then nothing is funny. There are things in this world that are outside of the bounds for humor.
Pleasure is not satisfied through humor.
II. You cannot medicate the reality of a fallen world (v. 3).
He is not a drunkard here but uses wine to take the edge off like medicine. He wants to dull sinful reality but it still remains. The world is broken and fallen and drugs and alcohol can’t take the edge off for life in a fallen broken world. Once the buzz wears off, you still have the same circumstances facing you to work through.
Pleasure is not satisfied through wine.
III. Not in work, status, success, eroticism or being ridiculously good-looking (vv. 4-8).
He was a good steward of culture making in all that God had given him. He enjoyed his good work as a business man and ruler creating culture. He got singers for himself. He is like a grant giver of money to the Holland Center performance.
We ought to thank God that the vocation he has called us to is not meaningless and worthless at the end of the day. However, pleasure is not satisfied through hard work and culture making.
The idol of America is that we validate ourselves and find meaning for ourselves in our work and use it as a scorecard that I got it. I have wealth, and influence, and am raising awareness on key topics, thinking we do not need any more than this. This too is vanity.
IV. What if it’s not Hef’s world? (v. 10).
Whatever Solomon’s eyes desired he was not kept from. This is a sexual sentence. He had 700 wives and 300 concubines.
However, pleasure, meaning, and purpose is not satisfied through sexual promiscuity.
As one writer put it, we live in Hugh Heffner’s world – the playboy mansion. However, this is not where pleasure is satisfied fully and this is really God’s world.
V. Flatulence! (v. 11).
Martin Luther commented on this passage and said literally, this verse means all is striving after the wind or striving after a breaking of the wind – flatulence!
Why is it broken? Why can we not find meaning and satisfaction and salvation and significance in these four things: humor, wine, work, and sex? We take these good gifts from God’s hand and make them not good things but ultimate things.
We can’t separate God from the blessings of God. Yes, Jesus saves, but let’s not come to God to get more gifts from God – Him to make our lives wealthy, comfortable, and happy – but rather come to God to get God!
1 I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity. 2 I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” 3 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. 4 I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. 5 I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. 6 I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. 7 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. 8 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, the delight of the children of man.
9 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.
IX. The Sermon: Feasting on the Wind – Rev. Kyle McClellan, Senior Minister, Grace Presbyterian Church
The Sermon Passage: Ecclesiastes 1:12-18
The Big Idea: Living in a post-Genesis 3 world means that even our best attempts to observe, catalogue, and impose our will on our surroundings will bring the satisfaction of feasting on wind.
I. No minor-league endeavor (vv. 12-13a, 16-17).
Solomon had huge wisdom from God and, in addition, God gave him wealth beyond compare. That means he had more resources than we will ever have to buy satisfaction under the sun in pleasure, material cool things, sex, houses, horses, power, etc. He is writing this book at the end of this pleasure journey and found that EVERYTHING under the sun is meaningless unless one is satisfied in the God above the sun.
This is a worthy pursuit to find satisfaction and purpose. It is an epic pursuit that only finds true satisfaction and traction in the gospel.
II. Honor and humiliation (v. 13b cf.: Genesis 1:26-28; 3:16-19).
God has called us to create culture – to execute dominion and authority over all that he has made as his vice-regents as it were. This is the honor that Solomon is talking about.
However, we create a culture of death and destruction. We see this in Genesis three.
Now the curse around having children is the pain in childbirth. Part of our calling is our work as men but this is cursed that it will be by the sweat of our brow.
The burden of humiliation is that our creation mandate to subdue the earth, because of our sinfulness, our roles are done in great pain now. God has not called the panda bears to do this work. He calls us. He gives us this mandate yet because of our fullness it will continually be a source of pain and frustration.
III. All the King’s Horses and All the King’s Men (vv. 14-15, 18).
Spiritually speaking the deaf and the dead cannot hear and live – can’t put humoty dumpty back together again. They can never give themselves hearing and life. 1 Corinthians 1 says it is Christ who has been made to us wisdom and sanctification.
Where is your boasting? What good things have we made ultimate and relied on for our saving? What are our functional saviors? Moms, are you boasting in your children? Does God somehow love you more if your kids are walking with the lord? Do we boast in our marriages? The life we built together? Though these are all good things, they are not the gospel. What do you want to boast in. Your own wisdom? Solomon tells is that that will end in despair. Boast in Christ!
12 I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I applied my heart 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 and a striving after wind.
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.