The author of Ecclesiastes wrote a message for the Hedonist of his day, and for the modern Secular Humanist. The first part of the message is this: “Your thoughts are not original. There is nothing new under the sun.”
The second part of the message is equally poignant: “Your philosophy of life is vanity. It is empty. It is without meaning. It is self-destructive and other destructive. It is depressing.” The truth about Secular Humanism is that it leads to mental illness. Georges Bataille acknowledged this when he wrote that “Man incarnate must also go mad.”
“Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. 3 What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? (Eccl. 1:1-3). “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” (Eccl. 1:11).
To every person who has experienced the pessimistic belief of Secular Humanism, and all of its various manifestations, such as Hedonism, Stoicism, Drug Addiction, or Existentialism, comes the gospel of Jesus Christ. That which is sought out to be done “under the sun” can also be sought out to be done “under heaven”.
“And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven” (Eccl. 1:13).
There is an alternative to pessimism. There is the good news of redemption. There is the joy of realizing that God exists and that He loves sinners. In matchless grace God has found a way to have fellowship with His creation and that is through His Son, Jesus Christ. Hear Him! That is the royal command.
When people listen to Jesus, they find that this world is not the sum total of human existence. Individuals can have eternal life through Jesus Christ the Lord. Individuals can have life, and that more abundantly. Life does not have to be empty and void of meaning. There is a way to live “under heaven.”
The cry of futility can become a Halleluiah chorus. There is a future, in Christ. There is hope for tomorrow, in Christ. There is blessing for today, in Christ. Time can be given purpose, “under heaven.”
“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace” (Eccl. 3:1-8).
The wise person can discern what time it is and so can act appropriately. The most important redemption of time is salvation. “(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succored thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.) (2 Cor. 6:2).
One day, many years ago, God used an obscure reference to a passage in Ecclesiastes to convert a man. “If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth: and if the tree falls toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be.” (Eccl. 11:3) The idea of a soul lying where it falls arrested the conscience of Dr. R. C. Sproul. He saw himself going nowhere in life, lying on the floor of the forest and rotting.
R. C. Sproul did not want to lie where he was. He wanted to live. He wanted to remember His Creator and serve him forever. And he did.
May the Lord grant you, and me, grace to live life, not under the sun, but under heaven.
“Living for Jesus a life that is true,
striving to please him in all that I do,
yielding allegiance glad hearted and free
this is the pathway of blessing for me.
O Jesus, Lord and Savior,
I give myself to you,
for you in your atonement
did give yourself for me.
I own no other master
my heart shall be your throne:
my life I give, henceforth to live,
O Christ, for you alone.
Living for Jesus, who died in my place,
bearing on Calvary my sin and disgrace:
such love constrains me to answer his call,
follow his leading, and give him my all.
Living for Jesus wherever I am,
doing each duty in his holy name,
seeking the lost ones he died to redeem,
bringing the weary to find rest in him.”
Thomas O. Chisholm