Life Under the Sun
Verse: Ecclesiastes 1:1–1:11
We need the realism of Ecclesiastes because it will rescue us from cynicism and despair. Some of us are in danger of growing skeptical about God’s goodness. We’re disillusioned and discouraged and feeling destroyed by life. But this book will protect us. It will protect us from pretending that everything is fine. And it will do that by its realism. And Ecclesiastes will protect us from despair. And it will do that by revealing to us what the author calls “the end of the matter”—the point, the purpose, the meaning. But we have to be patient. That doesn’t come until the epilogue in chapter 12. This book destroys in order to build.
God cursed this world because of sin, but in hope. All of creation and all of God’s people will one day be set free from this prison of futility. So this book is about how to live life in between. In between what? In between Paradise lost and Paradise regained.
The phrase “under the sun” refers to this world and nothing else—this closed, contained system, this snow globe—just what we see and touch. It’s the limited perspective of human beings. It’s what we learn from observation at ground level. “Under the sun” is a limited way of interpreting reality that determines how a person thinks and feels and lives.
There is a monotony to life. And if we merely experience it from “under the sun,” we will see no point. And that’s not a worldview that humans can live with. So we’ll do what we have to do to find meaning in something. But we’ll only find that there is no point . . . if there is no God. Did you notice that God is completely absent from this prologue?
Life is more than “under the sun.” There is reality above the sun. God is there above the sun. And we’re to fear him—not be terrified of him, unless we haven’t repented of our sins and are still under his judgment and wrath. But this is a call to acknowledge him. And having acknowledged him, to honor him, obey him, yield to his lordship. Be accountable to him. Live life before the face of God in obedience to God for the glory of God.