“Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2)
In the first two chapters of Ecclesiastes, Solomon relates how he examined the best that life had to offer, especially if one has unlimited resources. His conclusion? Nothing “under the sun” brings lasting contentment and a meaningful life. Worldly accomplishments, wealth, fame, and pleasures leave everyone empty in the end.
One reason for this is mortality. No number of digits in a bank account can lift the spirits of those facing their own death or the imminent death of a loved one. Leo Tolstoy, for example, regarded by many as one of the world’s greatest writers, is reported to have said near the end of his life, “Why go on? Whether I do this or that or nothing at all, it doesn’t matter. It’s all empty.”
Kings, philosophers, and nearly everyone else all arrive at the same conclusion when they stop and think about it, which is why so many try hard not to think about it. Stay busy! Focus on pleasure! Make money! Regardless of how hard people try not to think about how vulnerable they are and how empty life in this world is, repressing those thoughts won’t change reality. Everyone is going to die, no matter how good their diet is, no matter how much exercise they get, no matter how good their genes are.
The world God made was very good. He gave men and women the great privilege of being caretakers of this marvelous world. But then they decided to serve their desires rather than God. That was the moment when pain, emptiness, and death became the human experience. Ironically, humans now were unable to rule even themselves well, let alone the world.
Many people fear that their life will not turn out to be as good as they hope. They can become nearly hysterical when it comes to things like climate and politics. Sin is the reason for so much unsettledness. Death is reality for those created in God’s image. They desperately need to be saved from this mess.
Hebrews 2:10 says that God sent Jesus to be the source and leader of our salvation. In order to do that, Jesus became flesh and blood. Satan attempted to push Jesus into the category of sinner, to make Him exactly like everyone else—unable to do anything about sin and death. But Jesus, our authentic Substitute, defeated every temptation.
Death had defeated all comers. Kings and princes, as well as the crippled and the homeless, succumbed to death. The fear of death held everyone in a tight grip.
To defeat death, Jesus Himself had to die. When the angel rolled away the stone from Jesus’ tomb, it became clear that death had finally met its match. The tomb was empty! Jesus had risen and thereby rescued us from the fear and power of death!
Is the moral and spiritual condition of the world getting worse every day? It certainly seems that way. Will we continue to experience disappointment, sickness, and pain in this world? Yes, we will. But God tells us not to dwell long on those things! Instead, fix your eyes on Jesus! (Hebrews 12:2)
Thanks to Jesus, everything we’re ashamed of has been washed away, everything we’re afraid of has been defeated by Him, and He is not ashamed to call us His brothers and sisters. (Hebrews 2:11-12) That is more important than today’s headlines and longer lasting than today’s troubles. It guarantees to us a blessed meaning and an eternal reality above and beyond everything else!
Fix your eyes on Jesus!