Author: George Ippolito (Page 1 of 37)

Why Am I Here (On Earth)? The Vanity of Entertainment and, perhaps, Sexual Pleasure (Eccl. 2:8b)

8b I acquired male and female singers, the delights of the sons of men, and musical instruments of all kinds. (Eccl. 2:8b)

Entertainment didn’t cut it for Solomon either. While typically reserved for feasts and banquets, he had for himself male and female singers. If you’re impressed with iTunes or Spotify, imagine what it would be like if you could have live performances at your disposal whenever you wanted. Before you marvel too long at Solomon’s entertainment options, you’d do well to consider how he might have marveled if he knew what would be available to the average Westerner in the 21st century. Who could have imagined screens of all different sizes providing seemingly instant access to music, movies, news, and just about any piece of information one could want? You probably don’t need either Solomon or I to tell you – trying to find fulfillment in the transient distraction of entertainment is vanity (cf. Eccl. 2:11). Sure, Nabal’s feast was festive (1 Sam. 25:36) until his heart died within him and he became like a stone (vs.37). Sure, Herodias’ illicit dancing pleased Herod (Mt. 14:6); in fact, Herod even found John’s preaching entertaining (cf. Mk. 6:20); and this man was so addicted to amusement that when he had the Son of God in front of him he didn’t worship Him; rather, he wanted a miracle to be done by Him (Lk. 23:8).

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Why Am I Here (On Earth)? The Vanity of Accrued Wealth

If you asked yourself, ‘What are some of the things that people try to find joy and fulfillment in?’, provided you live in a somewhat developed part of the world, at some point you’d probably include in your list – things. Stuff. Possessions. Money. Gold. Shoes. Old Baseball cards. And so on. Despite Jesus’ instruction that life does not consist in the abundance of one’s possessions (Lk. 12:15), it’s not uncommon to find those who live like it does. Jesus’ words, you could say, are corroborated by Solomon’s experience. He was a man who had just about everything he wanted to have, and found that everything wasn’t enough.

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Why Am I Here (On Earth)? The Vanity of Building Your Own Estate

Solomon’s pursuit of pleasure did not cease with his failed experiments in the areas of partying, laughing, and drinking (Eccl. 2:1-3). He pressed on. Not to an OT equivalent of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:14); but, in continued attempts to find meaning and fulfillment, he surveyed the sensations that accompanied success in the hopes of finding fulfillment therein. Next up, building and real-estate beautification.

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Why Am I Here (On Earth)? The Vanity of Pleasure Seeking

1 “I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure”; but surely, this also was vanity. 2 I said of laughter—“Madness!”; and of mirth, “What does it accomplish?” 3 I searched in my heart how to gratify my flesh with wine, while guiding my heart with wisdom, and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the sons of men to do under heaven all the days of their lives. (Eccl. 2:1-3)

The opening verse of chapter two is a telling one. Solomon spoke to his heart saying, “I will test you with mirth [i.e. gladness]; therefore, enjoy pleasure” (2:1a). He was in essence doing an investigation trying to find out what could bring lasting fulfillment and lasting happiness. But… it didn’t work out. He said, “This also was vanity” (vs.1b). Pursuing laughter and the constant ecstasy of frivolity was seen to be madness (vs.2a).

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Why Am I Here (On Earth)? The Vanity (or Value) of Work

As we continue to prepare the way for the answer to the question, “Why am I here (on earth)?” we come to Solomon’s first case study to deconstruct supposed self-satisfiers. He begins with the subject of work, briefly introducing the subject at the beginning of the book and then developing it further in chapter two. In the third verse of the book he wrote,

What profit has a man from all his labor
In which he toils under the sun? (Eccl. 1:3)

He used a financial term (“profit”) as though he was doing a kind of cost-benefit analysis. What’s the ‘bottom line’ from all of man’s labor? He gets around to the conclusion shortly after asking that question and the review he gave wasn’t exactly glowing, though it did start off promising.

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