An Empty Dream

An exposition of Ecclesiastes 2:1-11. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, July 25, 2010.

It’s one of life’s most disappointing experiences.  It is the kind of thing that leaves you jaded, skeptical and disillusioned.  Getting what you’d hoped for!  Have you been there?  Maybe it was your dream job but it turned out to be a nightmare.  Perhaps your dream house was, in fact, a money pit.   Your dream car?  A lemon.  That girl you had to marry…well we’ll not go there but you get the idea.  Life under the sun is filled with broken dreams, disappointing successes and unfulfilled expectations.  In short, satisfaction is just beyond your grasp.  Satisfaction is the “fulfillment of one’s wishes” or the pleasure derived from experiencing dreams come true.  In fairy-tales people live happily ever-after.  But, in case you haven’t noticed, life is no fairy-tale.  In the real world it seems we are forever on the trail of satisfaction.  It’s just around the corner.  Perhaps it will come with the next promotion.  Maybe if we get in the right neighborhood.  Surely when we get out from under this debt – but by the time we get there satisfaction has moved on.  It’s why the preacher cried, “Vanity of vanities!  All is vanity!”  Empty, transient, passing, hollow.  What is?  Everything!  Everything that is, “under the sun.”  When you evaluate life without regard for God or the things of God the logical conclusion is – it’s empty, meaningless, unsatisfying.

Solomon is looking back over his life and evaluating.  He sees his life as a grand experiment.  He has done a little bit of everything.  He has tried everything.  And he has come to this conclusion – “after all my I’ve experienced, after all I’ve accomplished, if you add up what I’ve accomplished and what I’ve accumulated, what do I have?  A great big jar of nothing!”  He is not saying he has not accomplished anything.  He isn’t suggesting that he has not enjoyed himself along the way.  He is saying, “ultimately it does not satisfy.”  The apostle Paul told the church at Corinth that the Old Testament Scriptures were written for their benefit.  They were to learn from them so as not to make the same mistakes.  We have the benefit of Solomon’s experience.  He’s been there, done that and he has the t-shirt but it seems we are determined to learn the same lessons the hard way – through our own painful experience.  Our text this morning is found in the 2nd chapter of Ecclesiastes and we will begin at verse 1.

Text: Ecclesiastes 2:1-11
Solomon leaves no doubt about where he is heading – 1:2-3.
He states his conclusion at the very beginning.
Keep in mind he is “thinking out loud” we are traveling this road with him.
Solomon shifts gears with chapter 2.  If wisdom proves to be ineffective then maybe the “good life” is the key to a good life.  If not wisdom how about pleasure?

It is here that we learn…

Thesis: Genuine, lasting satisfaction cannot be attained through human means.
This is something our culture needs to hear.  We have been raised to believe we can accomplish anything.  If you want it bad enough and you work hard enough you can have it.  We idolize the “self-made” man.  We love those rags to riches stories and want to believe it can happen to us some day.

In addition we’ve convinced ourselves that the “successful” are happy and fulfilled.  They must be because they have it all.  That’s not what Solomon says.

Let me point out three things as we work our way through this text.

  1. The promise of satisfaction through pleasure proves to an illusion.  (2:1-3)
  2. The notion that power, position and prestige brings peace and contentment is an empty dream.  (2:4-8)
  3. Though the pursuit of pleasure and the accumulation of power bring momentary relief and provide a temporary distraction they do not, in fact, cannot satisfy.  (2:9-11)

He had a thousand women – 700 wives and 300 concubines (all them beautiful).
He had more money than a man could spend.
He had vast estates.
He had time and means to pursue every possible pleasure.
And it all amounted to what?  Nothing.  Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.

Why is that?
Hebrews 9:27 – appointed unto man to die once and then comes the judgment.
Death comes to all and then what?

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