The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
What does man gain by all the toil
at which he toils under the sun?
These are the famous introductory words of Solomon’s end-of-life reflection.
I want you to notice the impetus of his musings. We find the impetus in his question, “What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?” Solomon’s end-of-life musings are catalyzed by his life of “toil.” Recall, “toil” first and literally means our daily work. So Solomon was catalyzed to contemplate at the end of life by his work log.
What did Solomon contemplate?
There is Nothing New Under the Sun
A few verses later, still in his introductory remarks, he sighs:
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. Ecclesiastes 1:9-10
Solomon’s sigh is remarkably insightful, speaking relevantly to our culture even 3000 years later. Here’s why. The whole point of work is to create something new, isn’t it? We work hard to provide a new, clean, harmonious home for our family. We endeavour to create a new and beneficial product for the consumer. We work hard to create a new experience for customers. We work hard to create a new vision for what could be. We work hard to provide and create a new and better life for ourselves and our loved ones. We work hard to create new art and to find new discoveries that inspire the world. We work hard to find new scientific discoveries. The list is endless.
A new creation teeming with life and benefit validates our work. Something new is what excites us–when the next model of ________ is revealed, when the new culinary dish is presented, when the drape is pulled to reveal the new work of art, and on and on.
Solomon is saying two things. First, we long for newness in our lives. Second, let’s not kid ourselves–there is nothing new under the sun and we merely create the illusion of experiencing something new. To paraphrase, there’s nothing new under the sun but there certainly are a lot of recycled ideas and products in different iterations and expressions.
There is One Thing New Under the Sun
Enter Jesus Christ.
If what our hearts are longing for is a truly new creation, then Jesus is the one person who can and does indeed offer a new creation. Scripture tells us…
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. Revelation 21:1
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:5
New outfits, new hairdos, new cars, new titles, new experiences–these are all great but limited. The true new that we are longing for, that deeply satisfies and transforms us is newness in Christ.
Try praying a prayer like this:
Dear Lord, thank you for your great love. Give me a new heart to know you. Write your ways into my thoughts, my affections, and decisions. Today, let my joy come from the unfolding of my new life in Jesus and from the hope of eternal new life with you in the new creation. And let this new joy carry me through whatever today brings. Amen.