Solomon wrote 3000 years ago on wealth and the vanities of the heart in his book Ecclesiastes. The wisdom in this book is still relevant today. In fact, if you didn’t know better, you would think it was written today.
“Then I became great and increased more than all who preceded me in Jerusalem. My wisdom also stood by me. All that my eyes desired I did not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart was pleased because of all my labor and this was my reward for all my labor. Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there as no profit under the sun.”
Ecclesiastes 2: 9-11
Solomon is talking about the emptiness of a life that has pursued material things. That is, a life that does not have God at the very core of it. He tests the vanities of human pleasures such as wealth, sex and comfort and finds that they each lead to a dead end and no long-term sustainable happiness.
Steven Hawking is one of the most brilliant cosmologists and astrophysicists not only of our age but also of any age. He wrote the book, A Brief History of Time. In this book, he seeks to substantiate his thesis as it relates to the origins and significance of the universe. He is honest enough to recognize that his arguments force him in the end to lament the ultimately unsatisfactory nature of science when it comes to answering ultimate questions. And so he writes, “Even if there is only one positive unified theory, it is just a set of rules and equations. What is it that breathes fire into the equation and makes a universe for them to describe. The usual scientific approach of a mathematical model cannot answer the question of why there should be a universe for the model to describe. Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing?” Good question! He says, “We can construct the mathematical models. We can put the rules together. And within the framework of our astrophysical research we can make certain extrapolations but what we cannot answer is where the fire comes from that breathes life into this. What we cannot answer is why does the universe bother to exist.”
This is a poignant statement because it helps us understand how Solomon comes to his conclusion and brings to us a modern, brilliant mind that comes to the same conclusion.Steven Hawking, although in his own mind is an atheist, sets aside a conclusion about education and intellectualism that is biblical:
Intellectualism does not hold the answer to life. It is a mistaken notion that education holds the answer to all problems in society.
Let’s face it; we have seen gang rape in high institutions of our country. Those in high places have lied and stolen to get what they want. Even Einstein agrees to say that the men who know the most are the gloomiest. Information of the mind cannot satisfy the needs of the heart nor tame the unruliness of the soul. As Solomon says it is merely “striving after the wind”.
I have found some who believe that they can achieve contentment in things and knowledge, believing that Christian faith is the ultimate escapism. The number of suicides and divorces and the amount of prescription drugs and alcohol consumption seems to defy that theory. Unhappiness is predominant, and the real escapism is made of a rose colored, self-focused life that leaves God completely out of the equation. Would you agree?
Our current generation of kids, for the most part, do not understand the ultimate impact of “chasing the wind”. If we are to leave a legacy that matters and that continues as a meaningful example of God’s plan, we will need to relentlessly pursue our children the way Jesus relentlessly pursues us. Don’t give up. Their destiny is wrapped up in what and how they receive God’s place in their lives.
Solomon implies that we are fools if we cannot learn this wisdom and the fool is not one who is mentally bankrupt, but is morally bankrupt. It is not they he cannot learn wisdom, but that he won’t. He refuses to know, fear, and obey God.
Thanks to Alistar Begg for these ideas.
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