March 5, 2015

full custody

Ecclesiastes 1:1-11New American Standard Bible (NASB)

The Futility of All Endeavor

The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

[a]Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher,
[b]Vanity of vanities! All is [c]vanity.”

What advantage does man have in all his work
Which he does under the sun?
A generation goes and a generation comes,
But the earth [d]remains forever.
Also, the sun rises and the sun sets;
And [e]hastening to its place it rises there again.
[f]Blowing toward the south,
Then turning toward the north,
The wind continues [g]swirling along;
And on its circular courses the wind returns.
All the rivers [h]flow into the sea,
Yet the sea is not full.
To the place where the rivers [i]flow,
There they [j]flow again.
All things are wearisome;
Man is not able to tell it.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing,
Nor is the ear filled with hearing.
That which has been is that which will be,
And that which has been done is that which will be done.
So there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one might say,
“See this, it is new”?
Already it has existed for ages
Which were before us.
11 There is no remembrance of [k]earlier things;
And also of the [l]later things which will occur,
There will be for them no remembrance
Among those who will come [m]later still.

This preacher fails to start his sermon with a compelling introduction. There is no attention-grabbing illustration. There is no appeal to felt needs. There is no whetting of the spiritual appetite so his audience will want to hear more. The one called “the Preacher” violates a basic preaching principle. He tells his readers up front that he has nothing to say because “all is vanity.” (Aren’t you glad you are reading this?) I regret to say that the translation “vanity” is not the best rendering of the Hebrew word hebel, for in our contemporary speech we typically connect vanity with arrogance.

Unfortunately, many contemporary English versions continue to follow the Old English of the KJV. Nevertheless, there is great debate on what the term hebel means. Does it mean temporary or meaningless? It would seem that the word carries both ideas and even a few others. Hebel is an inexhaustible term. It can mean “vapor, deceitful, futile, and fleeting.” It points to what is without real substance, value, permanence, or significance. In other words, no person or pursuit in and of itself will bring lasting satisfaction. Everything is temporal. It may be that the modern Christian reader can do no better than to import hebel into his or her vocabulary, much as has been done with agape and to a lesser extent koinonia. Everything is hebel and therefore of no lasting value.

In this one verse, Solomon uses the word hebel five times. Hebel appears thirty-eight times in Ecclesiastes and only thirty-five other times elsewhere in the Old Testament. The term is used in every chapter of Ecclesiastes with the exception of chapter ten. It also brackets the book (see 12:8). Furthermore, Solomon uses a literary device to bring out a supreme emphasis: “vapor of vapors—the thinnest of vapors.” The Old Testament authors spoke of the “holy of holies,” “heaven of heavens,” and “servant of servants.” Solomon says that everything in life falls under this definition. Whatever hebel is, the world is full of it! The word “all” in the context of what he proceeds to describe refers to all human endeavors (cf. 1:3).This verse is blunt; it is intended to shock the reader out of complacency. It is designed to rock the boat, shake the tree, and pull the chain.



A dear friend of mine passed away yesterday at the young age of 48, massive coronary. No goodbyes, no will, very little insurance and left behind a wife and 3 boys. Everyone was shocked, he was a pastor of always struggling little churches. As an assistant pastor he had to cope with one of the meanest senior pastor’s in the state (no it wasn’t me). He always worked two other jobs as well as pastor his struggling church.

He never complained, he was a good pastor, father and husband.

Life can be brief, or longer than whatever you expected, I spent time with a lady today who is 91 and because of severe medical problems was never expected to live past her 40’s she always asks me “why am I still here?” I always give her the same answer; “you’ve never asked Jesus into your life, He is still waiting.”


Don’t let your life pass you by without purpose and fulfillment.


God bless from

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