Life Lessons, Ecc 1:4-11

In Ecc 1:4-11, Solomon wrote about life lessons that he learned from living, observing, experiencing, and studying history.  His conclusions are profound.

Lessons from Life – Ecc 1:4.  Life is always followed by death under the sun.  “Passeth away” is the expression we use today.  We say, “he passed away”, when a man dies.  Everyone living dies and this never changes.

One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh.  My Great Great Grandfather founded J.F. Welder Heirs, and ranching and land partnership, in 1877.  I knew his wife, my Great Great Grandmother, who was born during the Civil War.  That generation finally passed in my childhood.  Their children passed away in my youth and young adult years.  Their children, my parents’ generation, passed in my adult years.  My mother was the last of that generation and she passed in 2022.  And now my generation will be passing away since the youngest of my generation is in his mid-fifties.  The family is still in partnership and the operation continues, but all the people involved now are not the ones who started it.

But the earth abideth for ever.  This is true when compared to generations that come and go.  Solomon is not making a doctrinal statement about the eternity of the earth.  We know that the earth will pass away, Matt 24:35.  And when it does, there will be new heavens and a new earth, 2 Pet 3:10-13.  These new heavens and new earth are not “under the sun”.  The earth abides for ever under this sun.  When this sun dissolves, so will this earth.

Lessons from Nature – Ecc 1:5-7.  The sun ariseth, and the sun goeth down.  This is our observation under the sun.  And this cycle is still called sunrise and sunset today.  It never changes.

The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north… returneth again according to his circuits. The winds blow constantly from west to east around the earth and shift south and north in jet streams, following the boundaries between hot and cold air.  This never changes.

All the rivers run into the sea… from whence the rivers come thither they return again. Like the sun and wind, water moves in a circuit.  It evaporates to form clouds, from which it descends in rain, recharging aquifers and filling streams and rivers, which flow to the sea.  This never changes.

The sun, wind, and water are all described as doing the same thing day after day, year after year, generation after generation.  They are always the same; they never change.  Solomon’s God-given observations indicate that these natural things “under the sun” follow repetitive patterns.  These are great life lessons.

Lessons from Experience – Ecc 1:8-9.  All things are full of labour. The natural things discussed above are always “working”.  Likewise, men bring forth the fruit of the earth by labour, and women bring forth the fruit of the womb by labour, as well.  The earth is not at rest, and never will be “under the sun”.

The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.   In Prov 27:20 Solomon wrote it this way, “Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied”.  Television, Broadway, and Hollywood know this perfectly.  They are always churning out productions for people to see.  But their productions keep following the same themes, over and over again.  If someone comes to you to give you and ear-full, rest assured that they can’t do it.  The Athenians never heard enough, Acts 17:21.  And this will go on for ever “under the sun”.

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be… there is no new thing under the sun. Under the heading “Lessons from Inventions” below, we will discuss the topic of new things.  In this section, Solomon is simply stating that, based on observations of nature and his life experiences, things going on now have happened before.  And things that happened before will happen again.  The cycles of the cosmos, the atmosphere, nature, life, and death are repetitive.  What you see now has already been.  This is not new.  This is one of the profound life lessons.

Lessons from History – Ecc 1:9-11 “It hath been already of old time, which was before us.  There is no remembrance of former things”.  Today, we simply say, “History repeats itself”.  Georg Hegel said, “We learn from history that man can never learn anything from history”.  It’s true.  We repeat the same things over and over again.

Countries make peace treaties hoping for peace.  They never have lasting peace.  World peace would be a new thing.  Life without dying would be a new thing.

Men got together and tried to build a tower to heaven in Gen 11, and today they are launching rockets from towers to attempt the same thing.  There’s nothing new.

Nimrod was the mighty man in the earth in his kingdom of Babylon back then, Gen 10:8-10. And the antichrist will be ruling as a mighty man in his Babylon in the future, Rev 17.  As Cain killed Abel in Gen 4, so the antichrist will be killing the righteous in the Tribulation, Rev 6:9-11, Rev 20:4.  It just goes on and on and on.

We will continue to eat, drink, marry, give in marriage, buy, sell, plant, and build, Lk 17:26-30, just like we always have.  There is nothing new “under the sun”.  Another of the life lessons.

Lessons from Inventions – Ecc 1:10.

The “advancements” in “new” things are advancements in “inventions”, Prov 8:12, Ecc 7:29.  These are not things that God put here under the sun.  These are things that men invented and then improved, like guns, technology, buildings, medicine, computers, and space explorations.

But with our advancements we still kill each other like Cain killed Abel, kill babies like Pharaoh and Herod did, kill people with automobiles, drugs, weapons, etc, and fight wars with other nations.  Birth and death are still here just like they have always been and always will be.

Medicine has had many advancements to prolong your life and make it more comfortable or functional or tolerable.  However, the goal of medicine is not for you to live for ever.  You are born and you die.  Nothing has changed.  And with all the medical advancements, 120 years is the limit of man’s maximum age, Gen 6:3, and that will not change.

It’s interesting that Solomon observed nothing new going on with the sun, wind, and water.  These are the sources of green energy today.  These sources of energy are simply converted by the inventions and imaginations of men, Gen 11:6.  They work because the sun still rises, the wind still blows and the water still flows, like they always have.  When these stop, like they will in the Tribulation, green energy will stop.

Take transportation as an example of something that has changed because of inventions.  A horse converts the caloric energy of grass and grain to transport you.  Yet, it needs to eat again to have the energy to go again, just like your car needs to be refueled to keep going.  A sail boat utilizes wind energy to move.  Today we have windmills producing electricity to recharge batteries in cars so that they can go.  And we have hydroelectric energy, which is produced by moving water, just like grist mills of old.

Solar power is just like using the sun to dry tea leaves and coffee beans, or to mature crops that grow.  It’s simply harnessed as electric energy to run man’s inventions.  The more we have advanced in our inventions, the further we have gotten from God.

In addition to these green energy sources, we use fire to burn the concentrated energy in fossil fuels to make steam to turn turbines to produce electricity.  Or we burn fossil fuel in engines to make things go.  We use fire for guns, cars, rockets, and heating.  It’s all the same.  It’s fire.  The inventions are “new”, but the processes are just the same as they have always been.

Interestingly, once you harness the energy and utilize it, the “waste” is heat.  And heat is a problem in the atmosphere.  It’s going to be a serious problem in the Tribulation.  What climate change advocates are attempting to do is slow down the decay.  Just like medicine, nutrition, health clubs, etc, which we use to extend life a little longer.  We spend trillions of dollars annually just putting off the inevitable., because we don’t learn these life lessons.

Conclusion: All of these methods to extend your life or the life of the earth are just temporary “solutions”.  Man kills himself trying to live longer “under the sun”.  The answer, as you can see from these lessons, is not down here.  The answer is above you in the Lord Jesus Christ, who alone can give you eternal life so you will live forever.

To study the prior lesson is this series, see What Profit Is In Your Labour.  Or to study the next lesson in this series, see Things You Cannot Do.