“Meaningless! Meaningless!”Ecclesiastes 1:2 NIV
says the Teacher.
Everything is meaningless.”
Ecclesiastes is a challenging book to read. I suspect many believers never manage to read it all the way through even once. Some of us, who try and read through the Bible every year, just race through it. I know I am guilty of not parking on Ecclesiastes for any period of time.
And yet this book has something significant to say to us, although our English translations hide it a bit. The NIV translates the end of this verse as “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” Even more challenging is the KJV’s “Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” This word, translated as meaningless, or vanity, is the Hebrew word, “hebel”. According to Mounce’s Expository Dictionary, this word means “breath; by extension: something with no substance, meaninglessness, worthlessness, vanity, emptiness, futility.” It is something with no real substance. It is temporary.
This World Is Temporary
And is that not true of the world around us? While it seems to have real substance to our physical senses, it is only temporary. This is what Paul says to us in 2 Corinthians 4:18, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” The author of Ecclesiastes reiterates this repeatedly throughout this writing. Of all the many things he tried, he concluded that they had no permanent value. And, I believe, that is the real lesson we can learn from Ecclesiastes. Nothing that this world has to offer will last. Hold lightly to it. Instead, hold on to what has permanence. To the eternity that God is preparing us for.