MEMORIAL MARATHON SATURDAY EVENING SERVICE THIS SATURDAY
For the last two years we enjoyed a Saturday evening service before the OKC Memorial Marathon since the marathon completely shuts down the streets several blocks out from the church building. This year we will do the same with worship Saturday evening, April 29, at 5:00. Dinner will follow and will be provided by the YUM Pig Food Truck. We will bring the extras: A-H bring desserts, G-Z bring salads. The church will pay for the meal, but there will be a donation jar. There will be nursery available, but no Sunday school.
I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 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. I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is [a vapor] and a striving after wind. What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be counted.
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.” 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. For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow. -Ecclesiastes 1:12-18
Last week, in the first 11 verses of Ecclesiastes, we saw Preacher Solomon’s famous line, “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.” We should not read “vanity” as a moral failure or as utter meaninglessness, but in the biblical sense of its Hebrew word, hebel. It is a vapor or a wisp. The passage above also has another well-known phrase: “a striving after wind.” This is not a bad or inaccurate translation of the Hebrew, but it has more exact or vivid usage elsewhere. It speaks of shepherding or herding. Not only is everything under the sun ultimately a vapor, but the work of people in trying to leverage creation by ingenuity and “natural” strengths is not only vaporous, but it is like trying the shepherd the wind! Wind and vapor are related.
The Preacher writes more now to help teach why this is the inescapable way life is under the sun. It is because the Lord has made it that way due to the curse resulting from sin. “What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be counted.” God has twisted it and straightening it out is impossible. No wonder he says, “It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with.” To help support the assertion that this extends from the fall and curse, the phrase “the children of man” is quite literally in Hebrew “the sons of Adam.” Put that way, “God has given the sons of Adam an unhappy business to be busy with.”
Not only is trying to gain leverage in life from our ingenuity vaporous and like trying to shepherd the wind, but God has twisted life under the sun to be that way because of sin and curse. It is truly an “unhappy business” that we are busy with. The result is “vexation.” You’d think that wisdom might be the way out of this unhappy condition, but the Preacher says even that is like trying to shepherd the wind, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.” Again, we see more than a nod back to Genesis. What was the temptation for Adam and Eve? The serpent suggested that they would gain wisdom and knowledge, and the consequent power to go with it, by eating from the Tree of Knowledge. Such wisdom and knowledge would even make them god-like. But now we see that “under the sun” wisdom brings vexation and knowledge increases sorrow.
John Calvin offers a helpful line here literally on the first page of his Institutes of the Christian Religion: “Each of us must, then, be so stung by the consciousness of our own unhappiness as to attain at least some knowledge of God. Thus, from the feeling of our own ignorance, vanity, poverty, infirmity, and—what is more—depravity and corruption, we recognize that the true life of wisdom, sound virtue, full abundance of every good, and purity of righteousness rest in the Lord alone.” (Institutes 1.1.1, quoted in Jeffrey Meyers, A Table in the Mist, 53).
All this vexation from wisdom and sorrow from knowledge should prompt us, even drive us, to look to Christ, who is the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:24). We must not boast in our vaporous wisdom or boast in our strength of knowledge. After all, the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men; therefore, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
Come hear it preached and enacted in the supper with Jesus this SATURDAY.