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With New Testament Eyes: 70 - The Conclusion of the Whole Matter

By Henry Mahan


      Ecclesiastes 1 & 2

      The principal doctrine of these chapters is that the world and all things in it and of it are vain things. 'The fashion of this world passeth away' (1 Cor. 7:31). Our Lord said, 'What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his soul?' (Mark 8:36).

      What remains of this world (its labors, its glory, its relationships, its titles of honor, its wealth) after a man is dead? Nothing at all! These all die with him. He goes naked out of this world as he came into it.

      (Eccles. 1:12) Solomon was God's preacher first and king of Israel second. Being the preacher, he was qualified to teach and instruct others; and being the king, he did not lack for money, power, nor opportunity to search into and participate in all that the world afforded. If there were anyone who could speak firsthand of the vanities of the world and the true riches of God, it was the preacher-king, Solomon (1 Kings 3:12; 1 Kings 4:29- 31).

      (Eccles. 1:17-18) 'I gave my heart to seek and search out wisdom.' He made himself master of the arts and sciences; he got knowledge of trades and vocations: he studied politics, philosophy, education, and history. He pursued human wisdom; not just superficial knowledge, but he penetrated into the depths of all that men can know.

      His conclusion? 'Behold all is vanity and vexation of spirit.' 'In much wisdom is much grief.' The more a man knows, the more he would know, and the more sensible he becomes of his ignorance and the insufficiency of such knowledge to make him happy. All that worldly knowledge and wisdom can do is cause vexation of spirit and promote grief and sorrow. The wisdom of men is foolishness with God and only serves to take a man farther from God and promote misery of soul.

      (Eccles. 2:1-3) Solomon reasoned within himself that since he could not find happiness in natural wisdom, he would seek it in pleasure. Sordid lusts and sensual pleasures are not meant here; for Solomon was too wise and too godly a man to indulge in low, lewd behavior. No particulars are given, but it is reasonable that he decided to give himself to laughter, entertainment, foolishness (taking nothing seriously), and feasting. By 'giving himself to wine,' he does not mean drunkenness, but giving himself to the so-called 'good life' of banquetry, entertaining, living luxuriously, and keeping back nothing that would give his flesh pleasure and comfort (1 Kings 4:22-23).

      His conclusion? 'Behold this also is vanity.' He said of laughter, entertainment, and pleasure that it is mad and what good does it do? There is no solid and substantial happiness nor lasting peace in any of it. It is a road that has no end and a hunger and thirst that is never satisfied.

      (Eccles. 2:4-11) Solomon then turned to 'great works.' He did not spend his time with small projects nor trifling things. Being the richest, wisest, and most powerful man in the world, he made GREAT works. His houses, his gardens and orchards, his lakes, his treasures, his staff of servants, and his orchestras would be the envy of any person who ever lived (vv. 9-10). 'So I was great, wise, and wealthy: then I looked on all these things and on all my labor and behold! All was vanity and vexation of spirit.' There was no real profit in any of it! (Eccles. 2:12-23) Wisdom is better than foolishness: but the wise man, like the fool, dies and leaves it all behind. There is no remembrance of the wise nor the great; they all die alike.

      Therefore, I hated life, I hated my labor; for in itself, it is vanity and affords no peace nor rest. Here is the conclusion of the whole matter. There is an answer and there is a good life here and a greater life hereafter, if these things are put in their proper places.

      (Eccles. 2:24) Is it wrong for a man to study, to improve his mind, acquire an education, become a teacher, a mechanic, a builder, or an artist? Is it wrong to marry, build a house, plant a garden, raise a family, and enjoy our friends and life? No! 'There is nothing better for a person than to eat and drink and enjoy his labor,' for it is all from the hand of God! 'A man can receive nothing except it be given him from above' (1 Cor. 4:7; James 1:17). All that God gives us is to be received with thanksgiving and enjoyed.

      (Eccles. 2:25) 'Who knows that more than I,' says Solomon. God made me wise, God made me king, and God gave me what I have.

      (Eccles. 2:26) Here is the key! 'God gives to the man who is good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy.'

      1. Who is the man that is good in his sight? 'There is none good,' say the scriptures. This is the man who is righteous and good in Christ through faith (Rom. 3:20-23; 2 Cor. 5:21).

      2. God gives him that wisdom, knowledge, and joy that enables him to properly enjoy the good of his labor.

      He is not spiritually wise by nature but by the regenerating grace of God. 'I am what I am by the grace of God.' What he knows and what he has are gifts of God!

      3. God gives the believer wisdom (1 Cor. 1:24-30; Col. 2:3). This wisdom enables him to understand the mysteries of grace and life, to understand what true riches are, to remember that a man's life is not in meat and drink, to look on things which are NOT SEEN, and to hold lightly to all material possessions and relationships; for they are temporary.

      4. God gives the believer knowledge (2 Tim. 1:12; John 17:3). He knows the source of all mercies and blessings, he knows how to use them and not be used by them, he knows how to be a generous and good steward, he knows how to be abased and to abound, he knows that the earth is the Lord's!

      5. God gives the believer true joy (Rom. 5:11). Our joy is not in this world nor in anything it holds; our joy and rejoicing are in our Lord Jesus Christ. We rejoice that our names are in his book and we are in him (Phil. 3:1-3).

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See Also:
   Foreward & Acknowledgements
   1 - The Fall
   2 - Abel's Offering
   3 - The Ark Of Noah
   4 - Sarah and Hagar; Law and Grace
   5 - The Lord Will Provide
   6 - A Bride for the Heir
   7 - Bethel - The House of God
   8 - Peniel - The Face of God
   9 - Joseph Opens the Storehouses
   10 - Joseph and His Brothers
   11 - Shiloh
   12 - The Passover
   13 - The Manna
   14 - Water from the rock
   15 - The Blood Before the Lord
   16 - The Ram of Consecration
   17 - The Day of Atonement
   18 - Caleb - The Faithful Dog
   19 - The High Priest Intercedes
   20 - The Brazen Serpent
   21 - A Prophet Like Moses
   22 - The Cities of Refuge
   23 - Joshua
   24 - The Scarlet Line in the Window
   25 - The birth of Samson
   26 - The Kinsman Redeemer
   27 - The Song of Hannah
   28 - Give us a King
   29 - Saul's Great Sin
   30 - David and Mephibosheth
   31 - Why God Permitted David to Fall
   32 - Comfort from God's Covenant
   33 - I Will Not Offer to God that which Cost me Nothing
   34 - The Queen of Sheba Comes to Solomon
   35 - Three Examples of Faith
   36 - Where is the Lord God of Elijah?
   37 - Empty Vessels Filled
   38 - Naaman, the Leper
   39 - Open his Eyes that He may See
   40 - Four Lepers Teach us a Lesson
   41 - Nehushtan--A Piece of Brass
   42 - Bringing Back the Ark
   43 - Uzziah's Great Transgression
   44 - Four Things Learned in Trouble
   45 - How Can Man be Just With God?
   46 - Three Vital Questions
   47 - I Know that my Redeemer Liveth
   48 - Now Mine Eye Seeth Thee
   49 - The Psalm of Messiah the King
   50 - God's two great books
   51 - The Psalm of the Cross
   52 - The Lord is my Shepherd
   53 - True God - True Israel - True Redeemer
   54 - Eight Great Precepts
   55 - My Hope is in Thee
   56 - Many, O Lord, Are Thy Wonderful Works
   57 - A Song of Love
   58 - The Sinner's Prayer
   59 - My Rock and my Salvation
   60 - Our Lord's Sufferings for Our Sins
   61 - Mercy and Truth are Met Together
   62 - The Victory of the Messiah
   63 - Bless the Lord, O my Soul
   64 - Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say So
   65 - The King-Priest
   66 - The Chief Cornerstone
   67 - The Observer and the Observed
   68 - Praise the Lord O my Soul
   69 - Wisdom in Christ
   70 - The Conclusion of the Whole Matter
   71 - Remember Now Thy Creator
   72 - My Beloved is Mine and I am His
   73 - What is Thy Beloved more than Another Beloved?
   74 - The Lord Our Righteousness
   75 - The Believers Hope
   76 - From Nothing to Everything
   77 - Lost, Driven Away, Broken, Sick
   78 - Can These Bones Live?
   79 - Four Things God Taught Nebuchadnezzar
   80 - Thy God Will Deliver Thee
   81 - Hosea--Type of Christ
   82 - A Famine to be Feared
   83 - Salvation is of the Lord
   84 - A Fountain Opened for Mourners
   85 - The Messenger of the Covenant

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