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All is Vanity

In the first chapter of the book of Ecclesiastes in the bible, precisely, the first and second verses, we read, The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.

These first two verses provide us with information about the author of this book of the bible, and his astonishing remark about the matters of life. In order for us to appreciate the authors astonishing remark about life, Vanity of vanities, vanity of vanities, all is vanity, knowledge of the author is appropriate. Students of literature tell us that in order to be able to appreciate a literary work, a person needs to understand not only the times in which the work is set, but also some things about the authorthe times he lived in, his personal experiences in life, and the motivation for the literary work. For as much as the bible is so much more than a work of literature, it is nonetheless essential that we understand who the human author of any book in it was, and other relevant information that could help us understand better the circumstances of the writing.

The book of Ecclesiastes was written by a man who introduced himself as The Preacher and The son of David, king in Jerusalem, or as The Preacher, the son of David and king in Jerusalem. Whichever it is, one thing that bible scholars agree, along with the bible itself, is that the author of Ecclesiastes was Solomon, who was the son of David, and the king in Jerusalem, who last ruled over the united kingdom of Israel from start to finish. Perhaps the most significant aspect of the author of Ecclesiastes is his life.

Solomon, as a youth with the ideals of love, had written the book known as The Song of songs or The Song of Solomon; but he soon metamorphosed into an adult upon whom the affairs of State was thrust, at which time, he sought and obtained from God wisdom with which to govern his people. With this gift of wisdom from God, King Solomon became known, even till this date, as the wisest, wealthiest, and most influential man ever to live on the earth. King Solomon reigned in Israel over a period of forty (40) years, and applied the wisdom God had given to him and prospered. Unfortunately, however, he also misapplied the wisdom God gave to him, which manifested in his conduct, until finally, he got to a point in his life where he realized that all is vanity. It was from this point of realization that all is vanity that King Solomon was finally transformed into The Preacher who was now addressing the general assembly of the human race.

But before King Solomon became the preacher he had married 700 wives and had another 300 women as concubines! This makes many self-styled playboys look more like toy boys! King Solomon was so wealthy that silver was as common as stones in his time (1 Kings 10:27). His annual income was 666 talents of gold (approximately $20 million, which is far greater than that amount in todays estimation), not counting the income he received from traveling merchants, traders, and from the kings of other nations who brought him tributes, as well as the governors in his country (1 Kings 10:14-15). And by wealth, we are talking of legitimate wealth, not wealth obtained from over-inflated contracts, kick-backs, bribes, sale of adulterated products, fake drugs, 419 deals, and other sharp and corrupt practices prevalent today. Indeed, King Solomons wealth makes many of the so-called rich people today look like paupers! The splendor of King Solomon, his palace, and the clothing of his servants, was literarily so breath-taking that the very wealthy queen of Sheba (what we know today as Ethiopia), had no breath left in her when she saw it. Todays skyscrapers and mansions have no splendor in comparison to Solomons display of opulence. He is said to have had chariots and horses in every city in Israel, which we can equate to our modern day military arsenal, private jets, SUVs, and other state-of-the-art vehicles. Indeed, the bible records in 1 Kings 10:24 that the whole world wanted to come and listen to the wisdom of King Solomon.

But for all the glories and wonders of King Solomon and his possessionswisdom, women, wealth, and world dominancetowards the end of his life, he declared, Vanity of vanities, vanity of vanities, all is vanity.

To appreciate what king Solomon meant by the statement, Vanity of vanities, vanity of vanities, all is vanity, we need first to know what the word vanity means. Vanity simply means frustration, futility, nonsense, emptiness, nothingness. Hence, when king Solomon said, all is vanity, what he was simply saying was, For all the women that a man may seek to have as wives, concubines, girlfriends, playmates, or whatever word you may seek to apply, all is frustration, futility, nonsense, emptiness, and nothingness; For all the wealth a man may have, all is frustration, futility, nonsense, emptiness, and nothingness; For all the world dominance a person may exercise, all is frustration, futility, nonsense, emptiness, and nothingness; For all the fame and acclaim a person may receive in this world, all is frustration, futility, nonsense, emptiness, and nothingness; and, For all the wisdom a person may have received from God, it will all amount to frustration, futility, nonsense, emptiness, and nothingness, if it is misapplied! There is something to learn from a man who had it all and yet could make such a remark about all he had. Dont take my word for it; just go and sit with a man who seems to have it all, and hear him speak with disdain about his acquisitions, and it will get you thinking about your own pursuits in life! No wonder, King Solomon, the wisest, wealthiest, most famous and most influential king of his day, and possibly, that the world has ever known, abandoned every other title, preferring instead to be simply called, The Preacher.

So, you may be asking, Are you saying that we should not own anything? and the answer surprisingly, is Yes! But let us qualify the answer by quickly adding that you should not own something to the extent that when it is time to give it up, you will be unable to let go. This is the point we are trying to make: Politicians go to great lengths to hold on to power, it bothers on absurdity. Men work so hard to earn money, and then cannot imagine not having it, so much so, that they go beyond hard work, and engage in sharp practices just to keep on having more! And we ask, How much money is enough? Unfortunately, the power that politicians and world leaders cling to, does not last forever, for they soon find that it is gone, and they become like the common man. Events in recent times show clearly the vanity of power: Some of the leaders of the Arab nations who held on tightly to power, and who sought to perpetrate themselves in office have not only lost that power, but some have lost their liberties and even their lives because they refused to make use of their political power to better the lives of the citizens, but senselessly held on to power even when it was no longer in their hands! Indeed, all is vanity! The wealth which men boast of very easily disappears; and even if it does not, no one has ever been able to take wealth with him to the place where all the dead go. No matter how much money you may have acquired and stashed away (be it legitimate or illegally obtained), you cannot take it with you after you leave this world! All is vanity! No matter how many streets are named after you, all is vanity! No matter how famous you become, all is vanity!

Jesus Christ, the Preacher of all time, said, What shall it profit a man if he gained the whole world, and yet loses his soul? This is the crux of the matter.

The soul of man is that part or aspect of man which is most valuable; for it is the part that lives on after the body has dropped dead, to appear before God, his Maker. A soul is lost when a man spends his life on earth in the pursuit of vanities; but a soul is gained when a man spends his life on earth in the pursuit of God.

The pursuit of God is not a Sunday affair, in which a man goes to church; rather, it is an everyday affair, in which a man lives according to the will of God in every circumstance. The pursuit of God is not a matter of merely attending church; rather, it is a matter of building an enduring personal relationship with God. The pursuit of God is not about praying to God to give you a car, a house, a husband, a wife, children, political office, contracts, a much coveted position or job, or any inordinate desire of yours for that matter; rather, it is about praying to God and asking Him to bring you into the place He has for you in life! The pursuit of God is not going to God when you have a need, and abandoning and forsaking Him after you have obtained what you need; rather, it is maintaining a relationship with God, come rain, come shine; in good times, and in bad times; in sickness, and in health; whether or not you have money; whether or not situations are pleasant; and, whether or not it is convenient to do so. The pursuit of God is living for God, living unto God, and doing what is pleasing to God, even when it may not be pleasing to you.

The Preacher, King Solomon, arrived at the point where he saw the frustration, futility, senselessness, emptiness, and nothingness of lifes pursuit apart from a vibrant personal relationship with God. He arrived at the point where he saw the frustrations, futility, senselessness, emptiness, nothingness, and the dissatisfaction which attend a man who has no vibrant personal relationship with God. He saw that life is not full of pleasant things only, but that there are also unpleasant things in life; and that it is only those who have an ongoing relationship with God, who can truly survive the rough times that life throw at us from time to time.

Friend, God does not promise the absence of rain or sunshine, but He assures His protection against these elements when they become ferocious and scourging, to all those who are in right standing with Him, and who put their trust in Him and Him alone! God does not promise the absence of tough and rough times; rather, He promises His presence and provision at such times, to all those who are in right standing with Him, and who put their trust in Him and Him alone!

Before a person can put his trust in God, and God alone, such a person will have to arrive at the point that King Solomon, the Preacher, arrived at, when he saw the vanity of life without God; the frustrations of a life as it goes on through the never-ending cycles of the seasons; the futility of possessions without the Possessor of all things; the senselessness of lifes pursuit outside of the will of God; the emptiness of human ambition, position, and prosperity, in the absence of the One who fills all things in heaven and on earth; and the nothingness of all of lifes endeavours if it is achieved without God. Some people arrive at this point of realizing how empty, futile, and vain life is, when they are down and out, and are in need of help from above; but unfortunately, they soon get back on their feet, become comfortable again, and with that, they also become complacent, forget God, and are back to square one!

If you want to enter into a vibrant and personal relationship with God, then you need to first of all acknowledge the vanity of your life, even now, while it may be worth something; and make your confession to God that these things in which you have put your hopes and trust in, are indeed vanities. Then, you must proceed to accept Gods offer of salvation from such vanities, which is through Jesus Christ, His Son. It is Jesus Christ Who epitomizes the life that was able to have so much, and yet let it all go to become a man, so He would do the will of His Father. Jesus Christ it is, who overcame and conquered the lure, or temptation, of the devil to live contrary to God, when the devil tempted Him to pursue fame and glory outside of Gods will. It was Jesus Christ who paid the supreme price demanded by God for sin, and He paid it on behalf of all men. Therefore, if any man would come to God through Jesus Christ, such a man is accepted by God, and is infused with the nature of God; and as he continues in his relationship with God, he will not be overcome with the things that have lured many away from the presence of God. It is your continued trust in Jesus Christ that ensures that your soul is saved from sin, its consequence, and, from the judgment of God, which rests upon all who refuse the free offer of Gods salvation through Jesus Christ. This, my friend, is how a man gains his soul after he has died physically. Such a man will not fear the impending doom that hangs over all who do not put their trust in God. Going to church, which is a very good thing to do, however, does not guarantee eternal salvation; it is a life that trusts God absolutely that is guaranteed eternal salvation! The salvation of God can be obtained anytime, and anywhere; even now, as you are listening to this broadcast! All you need to do is acknowledge your need for God, forsake your ways which have been contrary to God, and ask Jesus Christ to come and save your soul. Yes, you can do this even now, while this broadcast is going on. After this, you will need to start attending a bible teaching church. Ask God to lead you, and He will direct you to where you will be able to worship Him in spirit and in truth, and be able to grow in the things of God!

Let us pray!