Written about 1000 years before Jesus’ birth, the book of Ecclesiastes is part of what’s known as the Old Testament’s wisdom literature.  It’s a book Jesus himself would have read and been familiar with. If you’ve ever heard the saying, “For everything there is a season,” then you’re already familiar with it too! That nugget of wisdom comes straight out of Ecclesiastes.

It also needs to be said that Ecclesiastes is regarded by scholars as the most emo book in the Bible. From start to finish it sounds as though it’s written by an angsty teenager.

From 9imagesThe author of Ecclesiastes, probably.

Lest you think I’m exaggerating, just check out the opening lines of Ecclesiastes:

“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”

That is how the book begins. It only goes downhill from there!

Over the next 12 chapters, this Teacher goes on to explicate how various aspects of human life are meaningless. Here are just SOME of the things he takes aim at:


All this and more, declares the Teacher, are utterly meaningless!

What are the Olympics but one more meaningless human activity?

But what we need to know is that the word being translated as meaningless throughout the book of Ecclesiastes, in the original Hebrew, actually means: breath or vapor or mist.

That is to say, it hangs in the air for a second and then it’s gone. It’s momentary. It’s temporary. It’s fleeting.

Life is like THAT says Ecclesiastes. 

Life is like mist from a spray bottle says Ecclesiastes: it hangs in the air for a moment, then it’s gone!

After this extended meditation on the breath-ness, the mist-ness, the vapor-ness of all of life, what conclusion does the Teacher come to?

Here is what he writes:

I have observed something else under the sun. The fastest runner doesn’t always win the race, and the strongest warrior doesn’t always win the battle. The wise sometimes go hungry, and the skillful are not necessarily wealthy. And those who are educated don’t always lead successful lives. It is all decided by chance, by being in the right place at the right time. People can never predict when hard times might come. Like fish in a net or birds in a trap, people are caught by sudden tragedy…

So go ahead. Eat your food with joy, and drink your wine with a happy heart,  for God approves of this! Wear fine clothes, with a splash of cologne! And live happily with your spouse through all the meaningless days of life that God has given you under the sun… Whatever you do, do well. For when you go to the grave, there will be no work or planning or knowledge or wisdom. 

Eat your food with joy, and drink your wine with a happy heart, for God approves of this!

May this kind joy – the joy of Ecclesiastes, the joy that Jesus was all about – the kind joy that finds its fullness not in spite of the fragility of human life but because of it, may THAT kind of joy that fill your days and be what you are all about too. 

In Jesus’ name, may it be so!