Ecclesiastes 1:1-11 “All Is Vanity”

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Ecc 1:1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
Ecc 1:2 Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.
Ecc 1:3 What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?
Ecc 1:4 One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.
Ecc 1:5 The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.
Ecc 1:6 The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.
Ecc 1:7 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.
Ecc 1:8 All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.
Ecc 1:9 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.
Ecc 1:10 Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.
Ecc 1:11 There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.

The book of Job which we have just finished, for those who can receive it, demonstrates the futility of the life of our “old… first man Adam”. The proud, self- righteous Job of the first 31 chapters had to be destroyed by the judgments which a pitiful God, full of tender mercies, in His love, sent upon the kingdom of that God- condemning, vile old man in all of us, typified by Job.
So we are told:

Job 40:1 Moreover the LORD answered Job, and said,
Job 40:2 Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it.
Job 40:3 Then Job answered the LORD, and said,
Job 40:4 Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.

This is how the holy spirit characterizes what God did to Job by the agency of Satan, who is referred to a God’s own “hand”:

Jas 5:11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.
Job 1:11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.
Job 1:12 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.
Job 2:5 But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.
Job 2:6 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.
Job 2:7 So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.

In the book of Ecclesiastes, we have twelve chapters which are a powerful dissertation which emphasizes the truth of the lesson of the book of Job, that God is the enemy of our carnal minded, old, first man Adam, and that He is in the process of destroying that self righteous “old man”:

2Th 2:8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:

It was the coming of the Lord to Job’s old man which brought about the destruction of that vile, self- righteous old man.

Job 10:8 Thine hands have made me and fashioned me together round about; yet thou dost destroy me.
Job 33:10 Behold, he [ the Lord] findeth occasions against me, he counteth me for his enemy,

The “occasion” the Lord has found against us all is the fact that we are all made of corruptible clay which cannot inherit the kingdom of God and was never designed to do so:

Jer 18:4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.

The book of Job is the Old Testament type and shadow of the death of our old, first man Adam, as well as a demonstration of how the birth of our new man, “the last Adam” comes through the destruction of our old first man, Adam:

1Co 15:45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
1Co 15:46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
1Co 15:47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.
1Co 15:48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.
1Co 15:49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
1Co 15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood [“the first man Adam”] cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption [“the first man, Adam”] inherit incorruption.

The book of Ecclesiastes is a verbal demonstration of the futility of all the works of that old, carnal- minded, “first man Adam”, who Job spends so many chapters defending.

Ecc 1:1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

The Hebrew title of this book is ‘Qoheleth’, which is translated in this first verse as ‘preacher’.
The name ‘Ecclesiastes’ is the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew word ‘qoheleth’. The Greek word ‘ekklesiastes’ means a speaker who is speaking to a called out assembly. The Greek root of ‘ecclessiates’ is the word ‘ecclessia’, the Greek word for ‘church’.
Ecc 1:2 sets the tone for much of what will be said concerning our righteousnesses and our sins. If we take credit for anything we do in any way, be it good or evil, then this is the simple fact of the matter:

Ecc 1:2 Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.

Ecclesiastes begins and ends with this refrain:

Ecc 12:8 Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity.

This book is especially designed to show us that “the end of a thing is better than [ its] beginning” (Ecc 7:8). The end of “the first man, Adam” will in every case be “the last Adam” or “Christ in [ us] the hope of glory”.

1Co 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

So the New Testament confirms this statement of “the preacher”, concerning all that is done in the life of the old, first man Adam with these words:

Mat 10:39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life [ his old first man Adam] for my sake shall find it.
Joh 12:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat [ our old first man Adam] fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.
1Co 15:19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

King David, Solomon’s father, revealed this Truth concerning a life of materialism to his son Solomon:

Psa 39:11 When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth: surely every man is vanity. Selah.

But our old man worships the beast which he is, and such a hedonistic, narcissistic life leads to the “all is vanity” conclusion which Solomon expresses 14 times in this book. According to the scriptures, this is the perspective with which Solomon died:

1Ki 11:3 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.
1Ki 11:4 For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.

The reason “all is vanity” is true is that Solomon is speaking from the perspective of his apostatized position of being “under the sun”, a phrase which, according to e- sword, appears 29 times in 27 verses of Ecclesiastes!
Consequently in this tormented state of mind he laments:

Ecc 1:3 What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?

As we will see, in spite of his tormented, apostatized state, Solomon is still speaking under the inspiration of the holy spirit, and these words simply confirm the futility of attempting to give life a sense of lasting meaning while refusing to acknowledge our Maker in all of our ways, as Solomon himself tells us before his apostasy:

Pro 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
Pro 3:6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Pro 3:7 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.
Pro 3:8 It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.

But “trust[ ing] in the Lord” does not come to us naturally, and until we are granted faith in our Maker’s ways, life appears to be a vain and empty cycle of one vain generation following another vain generation.

Ecc 1:4 One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.
Ecc 1:5 The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.

This and other verses which mention the rising and setting of the sun are used to discredit scripture, when even today the wisest among us use the same words, which are simply the obvious perspective of all who are “under the sun”.

Ecc 1:6 The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.

These words are thousands of years old, and were written long before there were any satellites to show us the motions of the clouds being carried about by the winds.

Ecc 1:7 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.

There was a seven year drought in the days of Joseph, and there was a three and a half year drought in the days of Elijah, yet all the while “all the rivers [ were] run[ ning] into the sea…” and return[ ing] again… from whence the rivers come”, and they are doing the same to this day. It is God who is working all things after His own will (Eph 1:11), including the famines and floods which afflict this earth, just as it is He who brings the famines and floods within our lives. God is not running out of water, wind or sunlight, and His ability to bless the righteous or to curse the wicked is just as intact today as the day these words were penned.

Ecc 1:8 All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.

Man’s “labors” are his history, and it truly “cannot [ be] utter[ ed], what man has accomplished. And yet it truly is all vain and temporary. This is the truth of the lives of all men, and of the labors of all men:

Jas 4:14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
Jas 4:15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

Until Christ Himself comes into our hearts and dethrones the beast who we are sitting upon His throne within us, our lives and all we accomplish within our lives truly is nothing more than “vanity of vanities”, and is nothing more than a repetition of all the vain lives that have gone before us.
Or, as the preacher puts it:

Ecc 1:9 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.

When we read these words with our physical vision, we are tempted to point to all the industrial and technological advancements which were unknown in previous generations of mankind. Where were motor vehicles, airplanes, rockets, satellites and computers with the internet before this past century? Truly knowledge has been increased. But the only one to whom any of this is new, is mankind. Not only is it not new to our Creator, but it is all old, temporary and obsolete in His eyes. When we are given to see and understand those words “under the sun”, then we are granted to know that all man has ever accomplished is nothing more than the discovering of that which has always been within our Creator.
Here is the Truth about all that mankind ever has or ever will discover, invent or manufacture:

Rom 11:34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?
Rom 11:35 Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?
Rom 11:36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

Even mankind’s thoughts, from which all of his inventions come, are “of the Lord” as this same author tells us:

Pro 16:1 The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD.

In scriptural terms “all that is in the world” is nothing more than “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life”. So when Solomon asks:

Ecc 1:10 Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.

This is the answer to “Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new?”

1Jn 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

As we have demonstrated “all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” were all in our original parents from “the Potter’s hand” (Jer 18:4). Note that our mother Eve, who was “of Adam”, had these very qualities within her from “the Potter’s hand” before she ever touched the tree of the knowledge of good and evil:

Gen 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food [“lust of the flesh”], and that it was pleasant to the eyes [“the lust of the eyes”], and a tree to be desired to make one wise [“the pride of life”], she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

So we do not die because of what Adam did as much as we are dead because of what Adam was from the hand of his Creator.

Jer 18:4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.

The Hebrew is in the aorist tense and denotes an ongoing process, of which this clay vessel is but the first step, as the Young’s Literal Version demonstrates:

Jer 18:4 and marred is the vessel that he is making, as clay in the hand of the potter, and he hath turned and he maketh it another vessel, as it was right in the eyes of the potter to make.

Adam was “made of clay… in the hand of the Potter. He was created as a dying beast who is already spiritually dead and in dire need of the Savior who was provided for his spiritually dead condition “from the foundation of the world”:

Luk 9:60 Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.
Rev 13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

In God’s time all our self- righteousnesses, and all the other sins of our old first man Adam, will be destroyed and will become the dung which will nourish the birth of our new man:

Joh 12:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.
Joh 12:25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.

The dead corn is all of us while we are spiritually dead. In time that man will die, and he will in time be forgotten:

Isa 43:25 I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.

What a wonderful promise, to have our Creator to forever forget all of our sins!:

Ecc 1:11 There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.

Again this is all speaking from the perspective of all that is “under the sun”. In God’s time our old, carnal- minded, self- righteous, first man Adam will be destroyed and forgotten forever by us and by all who will come after us.
But this is the eventual fate of “every man”:

Job 14:15 Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands.
Psa 92:4 For thou, LORD, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands.
1Co 3:15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
Col 1:28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:

Next week, if the Lord wills, we will discover once again that all the evil we encounter in this life is an experience which we are given of the Lord Himself:

Ecc 1:12 I the Preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem.
Ecc 1:13 And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith.

Here is verse 13 in the Concordant Literal Version:

[Ecc 1:13 I applied my heart to inquiring and exploring by wisdom concerning all that is done under the heavens: it is an experience of evil Elohim has given to the sons of humanity to humble them by it.]
Ecc 1:14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.
Ecc 1:15 That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered.
Ecc 1:16 I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.
Ecc 1:17 And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit. Ecc 1:18 For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.

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