All is Vanity - Ecclesiastes 1:1-11 (Part 5)
What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us. There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to be among those who come after.
This is the continuation of the previous verses. If nothing changes then there is nothing new. I had a student once ask me if this verse meant that there were laptops in ancient times. We have laptops today and if there is nothing new then there must’ve been laptops in the past already. I don’t think that this is what Solomon is talking about. I think what he means is that the fundamental things of life: birth, work, relationships, sin, and death will not change. In that sense there is nothing new that will fundamentally alter these realities. Of course, we can make birth easier and safer, we can delay death, we can mitigate the affects of sin, but we can never alter these fundamental realities of life in this world.
And, as I’ve said a few times now, this leads us to focus our hope on heaven where these realities will finally change. Sin and death will be defeated and a new world will begin.
But the problem with this hope for heaven is that none of us is good enough to go to heaven. Paul says in Romans 3:23 that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. None of us deserve to go to heaven. None of us deserve to have this hope for another world, none of us deserve eternal rewards. Even the best person isn’t good enough to deserve heaven. What we deserve is hell. God is completely perfect and He will create a perfect world without sin, so how can we, who are sinners, who are imperfect people be allowed into that world?
And that leads us to Jesus. Because in Jesus, God has opened for us the way into heaven. Paul continues in Romans chapter 3 that all…are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. What Paul is saying is that Jesus came to earth to pay the punishment that we deserved so that we could be cleansed of our sin and enter into God’s perfect world in heaven.
There is no other way. Because of our sin we cannot save ourselves, we can never be good enough in ourselves to deserve heaven. But because of God’s love for us, He provided a way for us to be saved in Jesus Christ. All we have to do is to turn from our sin and turn to Jesus in faith and trust in the work that He has done for us on the cross. And when we do that, and only when we do that, we can have this hope of heaven, this hope of eternal rewards, this hope that carries us beyond the vanity of this world. So, I invite anyone who hasn’t already done this, to do it now and take hold of this hope now and forever.
I just would like to finish with a quote from a commentary that is a good summary:
This passage is not a contradiction to the gospel but a call for it. The world is in bondage; and humanity is unable to explain, find satisfaction in, or alter it. Only the Word, who came into the world from above, can open the way of understanding and escape. He has done a new thing: he has created a new covenant, given the new birth, new life, and a new commandment. He gives a new name that will last forever. Everything else is old and passing away.