Photo. Grace with her guitar and piano teacher Mrs. Heuer at the spring recital at Clemmon’s Hall. 5-2012
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 – Part 4
Ecclesiastes 1:12 starts this book with Solomon’s 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 – humor, wine, work, sex.
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).
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 for Performing Arts.
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 modern writer of our culture 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 not Hugh’s.
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.