It seems like the world has lost its mind. Realities as basic as male and female are being denied. Yet at the same time, identity is being found in sexuality. Marriage as God’s building block for society is being dismantled, the result of which is societal disability and disarray. Children are being allowed to follow their heart, despite what the Bible says about the misaligned condition of that fallen human heart and the responsibility of parents to guide and protect.
The Creator’s well-crafted mechanism for a well-ordered society limps along battered and broken. Above it all, hammer in hand, stands man in rebellion against God.
Yet as current as all this is, there is nothing new under the sun.
“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done” (Eccl. 1:9). So writes Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes.
When we look at the political landscape of our day or an educational system addicted to novelty or a depraved society conspiring against the Lord and His anointed in order to jettison any moral or normative restraint, we cringe at the downward spiral. What was once thought untenable is now embraced, what was once tolerated is now imposed.
Yet there is nothing new under the sun. The outward manifestations may differ across the ages, but the rebellion and irrationality at the core remain the same. To the question, “Is there a thing of which it is said, ‘See, this is new’?” a firm answer is given. “It has been already in the ages before us” (Eccl. 1:10).
Ecclesiastes is a book of the Bible given by God to help us make sense of dysfunctional life in a fallen world. It gives us corrective lenses by which we look at the world with perception and understanding. It describes things that are all too familiar to us. As we read its descriptions, we find ourselves nodding in agreement. “Yes, I’ve seen that before.”
Like an optometrist flicking through multiple lenses of a phoropter in preparation for fitting us with eyeglasses, Solomon brings to bear phrases and terms and scenarios that give us perspective and sharpen the visual acuity of our faith as God Himself ministers to us.
Just as Ecclesiastes chronicles the frustrations and fragmentations of a messed up, mixed up world, so it gives us the bearings and direction we need for the journey, ultimately leading us to redemption in Jesus Christ. Since there is nothing new under the sun, we can be assured that these bearings and direction will be sufficient to enable us to navigate life in the twenty-first century.
The world of Ecclesiastes exists in the same plane as does the world of our day, as has the world ever since our first parents’ exile from the Garden of Eden. The names may have changed but the people are the same. The conditions may be different but the core causes remain. Efforts of yesteryear at finding meaning, purpose, identity, and value find eerily similar manifestation in our day, in what we are witnessing in culture, classroom, and courtroom.
So we turn in this series to God’s wisdom in the book of Ecclesiastes, eager to hear what the living God will say to us and expectant in how He will equip us for looking at and living life to His honor and glory.
1. Where do you see insanity and dysfunction in our world today?
2. In view of these things, what would you ask of God?
“Lord our God, teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
For further study, see Stanley D. Gale, Making Sanity out of Vanity: Christian realism in the book of Ecclesiastes (Faverdale North, Darlington, England: EP Books, 2011).
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Books, a division of Good New Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.