Sermon – A Cup of Coffee on a Sinking Ship (Ecclesiastes 1:12 – 2:11) – Cornerstone Church Kingston
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Sermon 2 of 6

A Cup of Coffee on a Sinking Ship

Tom Sweatman, Ecclesiastes 1:12 - 2:11, 10 March 2024

Tom continues our new series in the book of Ecclesiastes, and preaches from Ecclesiastes 1:12-2:11. In these verses, the teacher reflects on his pursuit for meaning in life through pleasure and legacy. He concludes that the satisfaction we gain in laughter, wisdom, legacy, sex and alcohol are ultimately meaningless, because they do not last. How are Christians to consider and enjoy these things in light of a relationship with God and our saviour?

Ecclesiastes 1:12 - 2:11

12 I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 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. 14 I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.

15   What is crooked cannot be made straight,
    and what is lacking cannot be counted.

16 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.” 17 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.

18   For in much wisdom is much vexation,
    and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.

2:1 I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity. I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” 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. I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. 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. 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 sons of man.

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.


Transcript (Auto-generated)

This transcript has been automatically generated, and therefore may not be 100% accurate.

We're gonna have our reading from Ecclesiastes chapter 1, and we're reading from verse 12 to chapter 2 verse 11.

Plelesiastes chapter 1 verse 12. I, the teacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem. I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens. What a heavy burden god has laid on mankind? I have seen all the things that are done under the sun.

All of them are meaningless, are chasing after the wind. What is crooked cannot be straightened, what is lacking, cannot be counted. I said to myself, look, I have increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me. I've experienced much of wisdom and knowledge Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom and also to magnus and folly, but I learned this. 2 is chasing after the wind.

For with much wisdom comes much sorrow, the more knowledge, the more grief. I said to myself, come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good, but that also proved to be meaningless. Laugh, I said, is madness, and what does pleasure accomplish I tried cheering myself with wine and embracing folly. My mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was good for people to do under the heavens during the few days of our lives.

I undertook great projects I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me.

I amassed silver and gold for myself and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired male and female singers and a harem as well. The delights of a man's heart I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this, my wisdom stay with me. I denied myself nothing my eyes desired I refused my heart.

No pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind. Nothing was gained under the sun. Tom.

Do keep that passage open in front of you. This is a new series that we began in the book of Ecclesiastes last week. And, just before we pray, 1 extra notice on revive. It might be that you've heard about Revive over the past couple of weeks, and, you would like to join the church family at Revive for the first time this year. But you've had all sorts of questions buzzing around in your mind, which are either preventing you from coming or you would like to at least get an answer to before you book on.

Well, after the service today, we're gonna have a revived Q and A reception in the in the theater rooms. So just out the door, turn left, left again in the theater room. And so if you've got any questions about the accommodation or about catering or anything like that that you'd like to just ask before you book on, then come and see us and we'd be happy to try to answer your questions. Alright. Father, we thank you that we come to your word now.

And we come to a living word which is, inspired and breathed out by your holy spirit. And as we read it today, its relevance is so clear and so plain to us. And, we pray holy spirit that you would please take these words and, show us where we're going wrong, help us to go right. And, we pray that you would, give us a greater appreciation and understanding, for the lord Jesus Christ. Who is the wisdom from heaven, the 1 that we need, and we ask in his name, amen.

Well, verse 2 of Ecclesiastes 1, meaningless, meaningless says the teacher, utterly meaningless, everything is meaningless. That was his conclusion last week. If death is inevitable, which it is, And if our lives are very short, which they are, and if we will 1 day be forgotten, which we will be, And if everything that we gain and acquire in this life must 1 day be handed on to another which it must. And if life must be lived under the sun, that is without reference to god, without a word from god, without a revelation from god, without the certainty of god's judgment, if that's how life must be lived. Then what enduring meaning can there be?

That was his question in verse 3. What do people gain from all their labors? At which they toil under son. Is there anything at all that people gain from toiling away at their labors? Under the sun.

Is there anything that can be gained? Is there any benefit? Is there anything worth doing? Now, you might say Well, of course there is. Of course there is.

The picture is not as bleak as this, and even if you're a person who rejects the the grand god narrative from which we must all derive a sense of meaning. Even if you don't think that's true, you might say Yes, but it's still possible for individuals in a world without god to find a sense of meaning in their family, or in their career, and, in all kinds of other things. That's basically what is known as existentialism. It's when you reject the idea of a grand arc story, a purpose story, a god story, and you say, well, there's no meaning in that sense, and so it's down to every individual to create and find meaning for their lives where wherever they can. That's true, you might say.

But look at the teacher's conclusion. In chapter 1 verse 14, I have seen all things that are done under the sun. All of them are meaningless. Are chasing after the wind. Now you don't have to agree with that, conclusion.

You're free to disagree with it. And you might say, well, that was written thousands of years ago, and, this guy didn't have the same insights that we do. Into technology. He wasn't as optimistic as we are today. You can say all of that, but you must at least hear him out.

Because this is a man who is not without credentials. He is not a keyboard warrior who's just sat behind his computer blogging about experiences he's never had. Writing travel journals about countries he's never visited, claiming that he knows things that he doesn't. This is a man who has been everywhere and tried everything. Money was no object to him.

He amassed silver and gold and was able to spend it on this search for meaning. Travel was no object to him. He said I have seen all things that are done under heaven He was able to go everywhere. There wasn't a rabbit hole that he didn't jump down and explore. He's been everywhere.

He's seen everything. And so you might sit here and say, I just don't agree with his conclusion, but you gotta at least hear him out. You gotta give him some credit. Give him your ear for 40 minutes or so at least because he's claiming to have seen it all done it all and come out with empty hands. And so we're gonna have a look this morning at his journey.

We're gonna have a look at the things that he tried the places which he went. He's written a travel journal, and he's walked out the room, and he's left it open on his desk. And we're gonna go in and we're gonna have a look. We're gonna have a read, and we're gonna see what he's done to see if his conclusions are true. And so firstly, we're gonna look at his first experiment, which is the search for meaning in wisdom and knowledge, the search for meaning in wisdom and knowledge.

And you can see how it begins in verse 12. Note how he moves to the personal, these personal pronouns. I. I. I'm doing.

I've done this. I, the teacher. Was king over Israel in Jerusalem. I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven. What a heavy burden god has laid on mankind?

I've seen all the things that are done under the sun. All of them are meaningless. Are chasing after the wind. And if we agree that this is Solomon writing this book, which many people think that it was, and it seems to fit very well with his life. Then what he says here about wisdom and knowledge he knows what he's talking about.

He was a wise man. Have a look at this verse from 1 kings, and, you'll, you'll see what I mean. Hopefully, I can Get this up. Sorry, really. You have to.

1 Kings 4. God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore. Solomon's wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the people of the east, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt. He spoke 3000 proverbs, and his songs numbered a thousand and 5. I like that.

Don't forget the 5. He spoke about plant life from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of walls He also spoke about animals and birds, reptiles, and fish. From all nations, people came to listen to Solomon's wisdom, sent by all the kings of the world, who had heard of his wisdom. In other words, this teacher is not without credentials. Here is a man who knew everything.

He'd even studied those little grassy roots that grow out of your masonry that grow between bricks he'd studied them and he wanted to understand them and look at them and know how they worked and he wrote about them This was a man who knew lots of things about lots of subjects, and yet look how he concludes chapter 1 verse 15. Look what he says. What is crooked cannot be straightened. What is lacking cannot be counted. In other words, he's saying for all that I have learned There is something fundamentally wrong with this world in which we live.

There is something crooked, which just cannot be straightened down. In the language of Genesis 3, We know that the world has been put under a curse. We know that work would no longer be a blessing and a joy For the people who lived here, it would be frustrating and painful. The world is under a frustrating curse. In the language of Romans 8, we know that this world has been subjected to futility.

Now that phrase that Paul uses, subjected to futility. It's been put under a sort of purposeless curse that no matter what people try to do under the sun without god, they cannot find meaning no matter where they look because it's been subjected to this curse. He says in verse 15, what is crooked? This world cannot be straightened by wisdom. What is lacking cannot be counted.

There are certain things that the wisdom of men just cannot put right. I was reading this week that in the British library, there are 14000000 books. It's quite amazing, isn't it? And if you include all the online periodicals and magazines that you can access through their database, There's a hundred and 70000000 pieces of human wisdom in the British library. Some of them date back 2000 years and yet for all of those millions and millions of books and words, the hospitals are still full, and the counselor's chair is still occupied.

And the medication that we need to ease our pains and burdens still rolls off the conveyor belt in its millions, and the people still go to war. And the relationships still break down. No matter how many books we read about relationships, have we not learned how to save them yet? They still break down, and the ache of every human heart remains. For all that we read and write and publish and read and write and publish and read and write and publish and for all the hours of video content we consume and podcasts that we listen to for it all, there are just some things that the wisdom of man will never be able to fix, which they cannot fix.

And that's what he means. In verse 15, he searched it all out, and what is crooked cannot be straightened and what is lacking cannot be counted. But here's the muddle with ecclesiastes. We know that despite all of that, wisdom is better than folly, don't we? We just we know that.

We believe that that that knowing and learning and wisdom is better than being foolish. It is better. We instinctively feel that and yet wisdom also makes life worse, wasn't it? There's the mud hole. We know it's better than being a fool.

But the more of it we have, the more fed up we feel. Have a look how he puts it in verse 17. Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this too is a chasing after the wind. For with much wisdom comes much sorrow, the more knowledge, the more grief. That's right, isn't it?

He's saying the more you know, the more you realize what you don't know. The more about the human condition I read, the more problems I've exposed to. In fact, sometimes I watch these people on YouTube and I read these books, and I finish it, and I find that I've got a new problem that I didn't have before, and I wish I'd never bothered searching because I've now found that there's a type of anxiety that I've now got because I read that thing. If only I'd kept myself to myself and not bothered, I'd be alright. The more we know The more we search, the more grief that we bring upon ourselves.

What a heavy burden? God has laid upon mankind. And so he says in his conclusion, verse 14, I have seen all the things. That are done under the sun, all of them are meaningless, are chasing after the wind. I wonder if you've ever felt something of that.

Maybe you are the type of person who likes to go from, podcast to podcast and from book to book from influencer to influencer from philosopher to philosopher from article to article and you look around and you consume so much content because you're just looking for that little x a thing, which is gonna sort your life out, and which is gonna bring you peace. It must be out there somewhere. And you keep looking. And maybe it works for a while. And actually, you subscribe to this particular person and their way of viewing life and you try to do life like they just and it works.

But after a couple of weeks time, you look in the mirror, and you realize it's the same old you looking back. It's the same old you, and it hasn't really worked, and it hasn't really done what you hoped that it would. And you think with verse 18 for with much wisdom comes much sorrow, the more knowledge, the more grief No matter how much of it we consume, the wisdom of men can never put right the things that it was made to put right that need putting right. What is crooked cannot be straightened. He's not much of a motivational speaker, is he?

It's not who you'd invite to your birthday party to address your guest. And maybe he senses that. Maybe he senses at this point that he's beginning to lose the room. The room's getting a bit sad, and there's an awkward silence descending upon the room. And so he decides, let's move on to pleasure.

Let's talk about pleasure. Another this wisdom stuff that reminds me of that scene from the Barbie movie, if you've seen it, and hopefully it's gonna win some Oscars tonight. But if you haven't seen it, then you really, really should because there's a fantastic scene in it where all the Barbies are dancing together at the party and it's the perfect party. It's the perfect yesterday, it was the perfect party, and tomorrow it will be the perfect party as well. Because every day is perfect in Barbieland, and they're all dancing, and they're all beautiful, and they're listening to the music, And then main Barbie just is suddenly, you know, that and she suddenly says, Hey, do you guys, do you ever think about dying?

And all of a sudden, There's that scratching sound as the record stops and the music dies and even people who weren't in the conversation are now silent and looking at her and judging her because she's brought up the subject of death at the perfect party, and she says, I don't know what I was thinking. I'm dying to party. That's what I meant. And then the music's back and everyone's everyone's gone like that. It seems a bit like that.

Don't wanna talk about we don't wanna bring wisdom into the sea. We don't wanna talk about knowledge and grief and sorrow. Let's talk about pleasure. Right? Let's talk about pleasure.

And so that's what he moves on to in chapter 2 verse 1 to 8. And you look at chapter 2 verse 1 to 8, this is his second experiment with pleasure and legacy, wisdom and knowledge, secondly pleasure and legacy. And these verses do read a bit like the ideal gap year. That's what it feels a bit like. This is the ideal gap year being recorded here, or it's what might describe a midlife crisis.

Things that are going wrong. And so you quickly abandon course and go for something else. Or really, these are just the things that millions and millions of ordinary people around the world look to for relief and satisfaction and meaning and to try to heal their traumas. Laugh, drugs, of which alcohol is the main 1, sex and legacy. Those are the things he talks about in 2 versus 1 to 8.

Quite interesting. Just have a look with me. Just turn over 2 versus 1 to 8. I said to myself, come now I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good, but that also proved to be meaningless. And it's worth saying that the things that he discusses in these verses things like sex and alcohol and food and palaces and gardens and legacy and gold and silver Lots of these things are not essentially bad.

So these are things that are not in and of themselves evil. In fact, many of them are good gifts but what he's gonna tell us now is that when these good gifts are enjoyed without reference to the giver, Under the sun, when we try and take them under the sun, then they end up as the smoke and the vapor hollow and unsatisfying. And empty. I've shared this with you before, I think, or at least in in in some place. Adam Pety, who's a a British swimmer and, just just knock it.

Just knock it back. If that's alright, I'll come to that in just a second. I'll just introduce you. Adam Peter, who's a British swimmer, and he, he he's dominated breaststroke swimming for, a long long time. He's won something like 3 Olympic golds and 17 European golds and 8 Commonwealth golds and He's got just about every medal that you could want in the sport.

And yet he's also been very open about his own mental health, struggles, and how for all of his success and for all of his searching and for all of his medals, he still has not found what he would love to have found in those things. And this is the quote. Thanks, really. This is from an article that BBC did with him in interview. I was on this endless search for a gold medal or a world record.

And I looked into the future, and I said, okay. If I do get that, Is my life fixed or any better? No. A good friend of mine said, a gold medal is the coldest thing you will ever wear. It's the coldest thing because you think it will fix all of your problems.

And it will not. Isn't that an amazing thing to say? For an athlete, for someone who's given up how many hours over the Saturdays in his life to go up and down and up and down a 50 meter swimming pool. And he's done it all. He's given it all so that he can wear a gold medal, and he says in the end, there is nothing colder that you can wear than a gold medal.

And that's like so much of what the teacher says here. He talks about palaces, and he talks about houses, and he talks about gardens and institutions and universities and pools and reservoirs. And like gold medals, those are legacy items, aren't they? That's something that you can hold and observe. It's not just like getting drunk, and that's a pleasure that just evaporates and leaves you with no legacy.

A gold medal or a building is something there, something you can wear, something that you can put in your display cabinet and show your children 1 day. It's a legacy item, and there's something good about it. That's the thing. It's not all bad. There's something good.

This is what I think he's saying in chapter 2 verse 10. If you have a look at his just concluding proverb there. He says, I denied myself nothing my eyes desired. I refused my heart. No pleasure.

My heart took delight in all my labor and this was the reward for all my toil. My heart took delight in my labor. This was the reward for all my toil. So there's something satisfying. There is something delightful about working hard and wearing the medal and yet what Peter is saying and what this teacher is saying verse 11, that just as soon as I felt that, When I surveyed all that my hands had done, and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, are chasing after the wind.

Nothing was really gained. Under the sun. Isn't that amazing? 1 helpful illustration, which may help. To understand what he's saying there in verse 10 and 11 is to try to imagine yourself on a cruise liner.

So you're on a boat and you're on a cruise and you decide to go to the onboard cafe. And you get to the onboard cafe and you order yourself your favorite coffee which is a cappuccino. And you watch them pour it, and the milk is frothy, just how you like it. And that little combination of chocolate and sugar is dusting the top. Just how you like it.

And you take a sip of your cappuccino and you're drinking it. And yet you also know that there's a huge hole in the hull, and the boat is taking on gallons and gallons and gallons of water per second. And that the onboard cafe is beginning to look a little bit lopsided. And you know the boat's going down. Here's the question, can you enjoy that cappuccino?

Can you enjoy that cappuccino? On the micro scale, you might be able to because the milk is frothy, just how you like it. And it's nice and strong, and it tastes of coffee, and the sugar is sweet on your lips, just how you like it. There's some rewards and pleasure to be had on the micro scale, but is it even possible for a person to divorce that from the macro scale? Could you ever really enjoy it knowing that the whole thing is gonna be at the bottom of the sea in just a few time.

Would it be possible to divorce it from the context and enjoy that little pleasure for a moment? That's something of how the relationship between verse 10 and 11 goes. There's there's some kind of reward in all my toil, and I taste it. It's a bit of sugar on my lips. But I cannot divorce it from the fact that this life is going down and that under the sun, It's all it's all meaningless.

Legacy, he says, is to chasing after the wind. Well, okay. How about laughter? Let's try laughter. Laugh chapter 2 verse 2, Lafter, I said is madness.

What does pleasure? Accomplish. I remember a Pete, an illustration that Pete gave some time ago on on this and on the comedian. And he talked about those stand up comics. And when you watch them, or you go to watch them for for an hour or an hour and a half or so, they cannot get away with just telling 1 joke.

They they can't just tell 1 joke and trust that the audience will laugh at it for 90 minutes. They have to go, and down and up and down and then he joke after joke after joke after joke after joke after joke after joke after joke because they need to keep people up. They can't tell what I mean, it'd be wonderful, wouldn't it? To tell 1 joke and to see everyone increasing for 90 minutes. But you can't even the best stand up comics, they've gotta go up and And the and why is that?

Well, it's just a little picture, but it shows us that the laughter of men, the laughter under the sun cannot gladden the human heart forever. It cannot make the heart happy forever. Laugh, he says, is madness enjoyable for a second but then it needs replacing and replacing and replacing and replacing. Okay. Well, how about alcohol then, verse 3?

Have a look what he says. I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly. My mind's still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was good for people to do under the heavens during the few days of their lives. So here he is, and he's now about to experiment with the drug of choice apart from caffeine.

With the drug of choice for millions and millions and millions of people. And he's not gonna get completely drunk. Notice that. He says my mind stayed with me. In other words, he wasn't gonna get totally paralytic to to drink, you know, 3 bottles of vodka to embrace folly totally and to black out his mind, but he was going to search to the bottom of every wine bottle and search to the bottom of every pint glass just to see whether this drug of choice really can straighten out all the crooked things.

In my life. Can it really, as it sparkles in the cup? Heal the traumas of my past, will I find answers in a bottle? Can it really relieve all the stress that other people and my profession put me under. Can it really?

I think that it can. And I choose it because it feels like it does, but does it really? And does it even really help me to escape? From the difficulties in life. That's why many people at the end of the day make sure they don't get home without visiting and using because they believe that that drug of choice will do something every night or every other night just to help me escape and unwind and just to heal me a little bit.

From the traumas of the day. And yet he says in verse 15, what is crooked? Cannot be straightened by any of these drugs. See, alcohol is a bit like it's a bit like laughter in the it's like throwing a ball up in the air, isn't it? And you throw it up, and it takes you high for a while, but it always comes back down.

And what happens with drug dependence is eventually you have to throw the ball higher and harder every time. It takes more effort to get it up in the air. It takes more effort and more effort, and you have to buy more and spend more and drink more just to get the ball off the ground. And still, And still, it comes back down because what is lacking cannot be made up for in alcohol. That's what it says.

And so then he moves on to sex and relationships. You can see that with me in verse 8. I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces, I acquired male and female singers and a Harim as well, which is basically a huge collection of sort of concubines or military wives and girlfriends that you've got as well, the delights of a man's heart. And again, this is surely the voice of Solomon speaking through these words. I mean, have a look again, really.

If you wouldn't mind, putting up this verse from a 1 kings 11, that's 1 and 3. King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women. Besides pharaoh's daughter, Moabites, ammonites, edomites, Sidonians, and hittites, He had 700 wives. I mean, of royal birth. And 300 concubines.

In other words, when he says in verse 8, I acquired male and female singers Anna Harim. He's downplaying. What the situation is actually like. He could do whatever he wanted, sexually, with whoever he wanted and probably did not have to be intimate with the same person more than once for all of his life. If he didn't want to.

And yet he says in chapter 2, verse 11, when I surveyed all that my hands had done. Everything was meaningless. A chasing after the wind. Nothing was gained under the sun. Isn't that striking?

This is such a relevant book, isn't it? Because these are still the things laughter, drugs, sex, legacy. These are the same things which still put a spell on our own culture. These are the things that people leave their marriages for. These are the things that people sacrifice everything for.

These are the things that people spend their money on. These are the things that people don't come home at night for. They This is what people look to. And yet he says when I had it all and when I surveyed it all, It was all a chasing after the wind. And again, his point is not that these things are evil in themselves.

But that they cannot make up for what is lacking in the human heart. It's interesting just to summarize all of this. If you look at Ecclesiastes 2 1 2 8 and you just look over the words with me, Have a look and we'll do it together in just a moment. What does it remind you of? What other chapter in the Bible?

Does it remind you of? Ecclesiastes 2. Think of the words. Where does it take you back to if you know the Bible? First 4, planted vineyards.

Verse 5, made gardens. Verse 5, all kinds of fruit trees in them. Verse 6, reservoirs, and water groves. Verse 6, flourishing trees. Where does it sound like?

Sounds like Eden, isn't it? Sounds like Eden. This is Genesis 2. Ecclesiastes 2 mirrors Genesis 2 with 1 big difference. Here he is trying to find a second eden under the sun.

Here he is trying to find paradise without god. You notice that? Who did all of this work? I planted I made the reservoirs. I filled the streams.

I harvested Genesis 2 has a lot less of that eye language. God god planted. God planted. God made the waters grow. God filled the garden with fruit and water.

The this This really is how to summarize his whole pursuit. He is trying to see if paradise can be found. Without god. Is there an eden apart from god? And he concludes that everything was meaningless It could not be done.

It could not be found, chasing after the wind. Nothing's gained under the sun. It's really powerful stuff, isn't it? Because the thing is every single 1 of us wants to be happy. We all wanna be happy.

And almost every decision that we make in life is aimed at our own personal happiness. Things that we choose to do and the places we choose to go even how long we stay in the shower. Every decision from the big to the spot is aimed at our own happiness. And yet he says it is not to be found in the gardens of this earth. Rather, we need to look above the sun, if we are going to find the happiness that all of our hearts crave.

And there are so many ways that we can look at Jesus from this passage. We can see him as we did last week, as the wisdom that comes from above the sun, the wisdom of god that steps into this world to make sense of our lives and to reveal what is right for us to do and wrong for us to do. He is the wisdom from above the sun. We can see him as Paul describes him as the the place where all of god's treasures and wisdom are tied up. That's true as well, isn't it?

That's the language of colossians. In him are hidden. All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. In Christ, it's like god has given a big treasure chest to the world called Jesus. And when you pop him open, you find everything that is true and valuable in Jesus.

We see him here as well, but perhaps clearest of all in light of 1 verse 15. It's only Jesus who can straighten out what is crooked. It's only Jesus that can make right what the wisdom of men can never put right. Only him. And isn't that what this first Easter is all about?

We're gonna be celebrating it in 2 weeks time. And we remember that Jesus came into the world to straighten out what we could not fix, that he came into the world And on the first Easter Sunday, he rose again from the dead. He was resurrected in power and glory. He rose from the dead. He's risen.

And the thing that cannot be straightened out, death He has ironed out forever in his resurrection and he's made that crooked curse of death straight because he came out of the tomb alive, and what we have never been able to fix the decaying mind and the decaying body, he has been able to fix that when we trust in Christ, though outwardly, we will waste away. Inwardly, we will be renewed day by day because there's resurrection life in our veins and he straightened out forever, which we couldn't fix. He's fixed us, brothers and sisters. He's fixed what was broken. Nothing that this guy experienced could do it, but Christ was able to do it.

To make up for what was lacking, to fix death and decay for us. And you know, when we come to know Jesus, as our treasure, then everything else we are free to enjoy as gifts and not as gods. He frees us to do that. Have a look. Chapter 2, we didn't read it.

Chapter 2 verse 24. And we'll finish with this thought. A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This I see too I see is from the hand of god. For without him who can eat or find enjoyment.

Without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? If you leave him out of the picture, you can search as far and wide as this man did, and you will say there is no lasting enjoyment to be had. But when you know Christ, When Christ is your treasure, you are able to enjoy relationships and set and travel and gold medals and legacy in their proper place because you no longer demand them to do for you That which they were never created to do. You don't look to them to find enduring meaning because you found it all wrapped up in Jesus. And with Jesus, as the gold medal around your neck, you're free to enjoy everything properly.

Isn't that right? Brothers and sisters who follow the lord Jesus? Doesn't knowing him make everything else richer for you. Don't you find haven't we learned that? Then when we divorce him from these things, we just feel hollow, but when we have them with him at the center and flowing into.

We just enjoy the more. They're better for us. That's the way that it was meant to be. So he says, verse 25, and I'll leave this as a question for you for without him who can find enjoyment. Without him, be honest with yourself, without him who can find enjoyment the teacher would have us read through his diary, close it, and embrace the same conclusion that he embraced.

That with god as number 1, my heart is full and everything else is in this proper place. Should we ask that the lord would help us to keep that the right way around. Let's pray. I'll just give you a moment and you can perhaps look over the verses we've touched on today. You can repent of anything that you need to repent of.

Say sorry. Thank the lord. Come back to him. What is crooked cannot be straightened? What is lacking cannot be counted?

Father, we thank you for your honesty with us. We know that no matter what we try, and no matter who we read, there are so many things in this world and in our own hearts which cannot be put right by our own learning or by our own experiences. And so how we thank you for King Jesus. We thank you that he makes the heart at rest that he satisfies us with every good thing and that he enables us to relate properly to creation. Understanding that gifts are gifts and not gods.

Help us, please, lord. We are so this is not a 1 time lesson. This is something we need to relearn over and over again. Help us please to look to Jesus. In his name, we pray.

Preached by Tom Sweatman
Tom Sweatman photo

Tom is an Assistant Pastor at Cornerstone and lives in Kingston with his wife Laura and their two children.

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