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Sermon No: 2769-Empty promises



Gavin-Paynter/Empty-promises.jpg

SERMON TOPIC: Empty promises

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 27 March 2016

Topic Groups: EASTER, RESURRECTION, SOUND DOCTRINE

Sermon synopsis: Facebook (which is of course the ultimate source for research) proclaims the following ‘truth’ about Easter:

Easter was originally the celebration of Ishtar, the Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility and sex. Her symbols (like the egg and bunny) were and still are fertility and sex symbols (or did you actually think eggs and bunnies had anything to do with the resurrection?) After Constantine decided to Christianize the Empire, Easter was changed to represent Jesus. But at its roots, Easter (which is how you pronounce Ishtar) is all about celebrating fertility and sex.

The above post appeared on the Facebook feed of notorious atheist Richard Dawkins’ Foundation for Reason and Science. Similar claims are made on some Christian websites.

As a result some English Christians dislike using the term ‘Easter’ as the name is supposedly derived from pagan origins. They prefer to talk of Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday.

The argument largely rests on the supposed pagan associations of the English and German names for the celebration (‘Easter’ in English and ‘Ostern’ in German). But in most other European languages, the name for the celebration is derived from the Greek word ‘Pascha’, which comes from ‘pesach’, the Hebrew word for Passover. Easter is the Christian Passover festival, because the New Testament records that Jesus was crucified at the time of the Passover (John 19:14) and was called “our Passover Lamb” (1 Cor 5:7).
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SERMON OVERVIEW:

In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul lists the three key components of the gospel.

1 Cor 15:1-3 Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…

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INTRODUCTION

EASTER MYTHS

Facebook (which is of course the ultimate source for research) proclaims the following ‘truth’ about Easter:

Easter was originally the celebration of Ishtar, the Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility and sex. Her symbols (like the egg and bunny) were and still are fertility and sex symbols (or did you actually think eggs and bunnies had anything to do with the resurrection?) After Constantine decided to Christianize the Empire, Easter was changed to represent Jesus. But at its roots, Easter (which is how you pronounce Ishtar) is all about celebrating fertility and sex.

The above post appeared on the Facebook feed of notorious atheist Richard Dawkins’ Foundation for Reason and Science. Regrettably similar claims are made on some ill-informed Christian websites.

EASTER MYTHS

As a result some English Christians dislike using the term ‘Easter’ as the name is supposedly derived from pagan origins. They prefer to talk of Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday.

The argument largely rests on the supposed pagan associations of the English and German names for the celebration (‘Easter’ in English and ‘Ostern’ in German).

But in most other European languages, the name for the celebration is derived from the Greek word Pascha, which comes from Pesach, the Hebrew word for Passover. Easter is the Christian Passover festival, because the New testament records that Jesus was crucified at the time of the Passover (John 19:14) and was called “our Passover Lamb” (1 Cor 5:7).

EASTER

Besides its Germanic roots from Anglo-Saxon, English drew heavily on Latin, which in turn borrowed a lot from ancient Greek.

English was also influenced by French (courtesy of the Normans), which again was a Romantic (i.e. Latin based) language.

ENGLISH ROOTS

Now both the Greeks and Romans called Easter ‘Pascha’. The French call it ‘Paques’.

The other Romantic languages Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Romanian call it ‘Pasqua’, ‘Pascua’, ‘Páscoa’ and ‘Paștele’ respectively.

Yet in English the festival is known as ‘Easter’.

ETYMOLOGY OF EASTER

So the word ‘Easter’ came into English not through its Latin / French / Greek roots, but through its Anglo-Saxon heritage.

Old English (i.e. Anglo-Saxon) Eōstre continues into modern English as Easter and derives from Proto-Germanic austrōn meaning ‘dawn’, itself a descendent of the Proto-Indo-European root aus-, meaning ‘to shine’ (modern English east also derives from this root). 1

1 https:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Names_of_Easter

This explains why these unfounded claims about Easter and Ishtar come only from English and German speakers.

EASTER IS NOT ISHTAR

Ishtar is the East Semitic Akkadian, Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility, love and war. So how exactly could the name of an East Semitic fertility goddess jump all the way to England from the Middle East without stopping in Rome, Byzantium or Paris?

In fact Ishtar’s closest equivalent in Greek culture was the goddess ‘Aphrodite’ and in Latin culture the Roman goddess ‘Venus’.

It is clear then that Ishtar and Easter are simply what we call homophones in English - while they are pronounced similarly, the one word is not derived from the other.

Besides the lions on her gate, the symbol of Ishtar is an eight-pointed star. 1 There is no evidence of eggs or hares being associated with her or that she was worshipped at the time of Easter.

1 https:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Ishtar

EASTER IS NOT ISHTAR

Detail of a kudurru (stele) of King Melishipak I (1186–1172 BC), showing a version of the ancient Mesopotamian 8-pointed star symbol of the goddess Ishtar representing the planet Venus as the morning or evening star.

In the 8th century, the Anglo-Saxon Christian monk Bede claimed that the month of Eosturmonath (our April) was named after Ēostre, who was an Old English goddess:

Eosturmonath has a name which is now translated “Paschal month”, and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honour feasts were celebrated in that month. Now they designate that Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honoured name of the old observance. 1

So it seems that the Anglo-Saxon Christians called the resurrection holiday ‘Easter’ simply because it occurred around the time of their month Eosturmonath.

1 De temporum ratione (Reckoning of Time) ch. 15, Wallis translation

ĒOSTRE

Similarly Germanic Christians may have called the holiday ‘Ostern’ simply because it occurred around the time of their month Ostarmanoth.

So is using ‘Easter’ as the name for a Christian festival wrong simply because it took its name from the Anglo-Saxon month, which was possibly named after a goddess?

If so, using the terms Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday have similar issues.

Friday is named after the Old English goddess Frigg associated with the Roman goddess Venus.

Likewise Sunday is named in honour of the sun god.

So getting legalistic about these issues simply gets you tied up in all sorts of knots.

ĒOSTRE

Incidentally many have questioned whether Bede was even correct in his claim that the month Eosturmonath was named after a actual goddess Eostre or if he was just speculating. While known Anglo-Saxon deities like Woden and Thor are paralleled in pre-Christian Norse and Germanic paganism, there is no equivalent goddess to Eostre.

… there is no evidence outside of Bede for the existence of this Anglo-Saxon goddess… Hutton suggests, therefore, that “the Anglo-Saxon Estor-monath simply meant ‘the month of opening’ or ‘the month of beginnings,’” and concludes that there is no evidence for a pre-Christian festival in the British Isles in March or April. 1

1 http:// truelightministries.org/ blog1/ archives/ 344

ĒOSTRE

If Ostarmanoth was really named after a pagan goddess, it seems extremely strange that the staunch anti-pagan, Christian king Charlemagne chose it to replace the old Roman name of April. On conquering the pagan Saxons, he had insisted that they convert to Christianity. Einhard, the courtier and biographer of Charlemagne writes:

Sometimes they were so weakened that they promised to renounce their worship of devils, and to adopt Christianity, but they were as quick to violate these terms as they were to accept them…This long war finally ended with the Saxons submitting on Charlemagne’s terms, renouncing their national religious customs and the worship of devils, accepting the sacraments of the Christian faith and religion, and uniting with the Franks to form one people.

Many supposed ‘scholars’ and website articles link the hare to the worship of the goddess Eostre. This is quite remarkable as the only time she is ever mentioned is in one paragraph by Bede, who simply says that a month was named after her. 1 According to an article in the Guardian:

EASTER BUNNY

There are no images of Eostre, no carvings, no legends, and no association with hares, rabbits or eggs. Yet a swift Google search turns up heaps of repeated Eostre lore. Even the usually formidable Snopes.com allocates Eostre her customary sacred hare, without any historical justification. So where do the tales come from? 2

1 Bede cites two goddesses (Hrede and Eástre) very briefly, without any description, merely to explain the months named after them, are, March taking its name from the first, and April from the second. 2 http:// theguardian.com/ commentisfree/ belief/ 2011/ apr/ 23/ easter-pagan-roots

The origin of the Easter Bunny is thus obscure. Its origins are reputedly in Germany, spread to America through the Pennsylvania Dutch. According to Lutheran Hour Ministries:

The bunny as an Easter symbol seems to have its origins in Germany, where it was first mentioned in German writings in the 1500s. The first edible Easter bunnies were made in Germany during the early 1800s. These were made of pastry and sugar. 1

1 http:// www.lhmint.org/ easter/ symbols.htm

EASTER EGGS

Again there is no evidence for our potentially imaginary goddess Eostre being linked to the Easter Egg.

As the feast of Easter developed in Christian tradition, so did the festival’s preparatory period, known as Lent. This involved fasting and later abstinence from certain foods, including eggs. 1

When the Lenten fast was adopted in the third and fourth centuries, observant Christians abstained from dairy products, including milk, cheese, butter, and eggs. In England, on the Saturday before Lent, it was common practice for children to go from door to door to beg for eggs—a last treat before the fast began. 2

1 http:// christianitytoday.com/ ch/ bytopic/ holidays/ fastlenteastereggs.html 2 http:// blogs.scientificamerican.com/ anthropology-in-practice/ beyond-ishtar-the-tradition-of-eggs-at-easter/

In addition, Orthodox churches have a custom of abstaining from eggs during the fast of Lent. The only way to keep them from being wasted was to boil or roast them, and begin eating them to break the fast. As a special dish, they would probably have been decorated as part of the celebrations. Later, German Protestants retained the custom of eating coloured eggs for Easter, though they did not continue the tradition of fasting. 2

Among Christians, red symbolizes the blood of Jesus. Among Macedonians, it has been a tradition to bring a red egg to Church and eat it when the priest proclaims “Christ is risen” at the Easter vigil and the Lenten fast is officially broken. 1

1 Ibid 2 https:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Easter_Bunny

PASSOVER

Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover by much of its symbolism, as well as by its position in the calendar. As we have seen in many European languages, the words for ‘Easter’ and ‘Passover’ are identical or very similar.

Those who allege that Easter is linked to pagan festivals in connection with the Spring equinox are in error. The equinox is a solar event while the celebration of the resurrection is based on a feast in the Jewish lunar calendar. Jesus was resurrected on Sunday and prior to the First Council of Nicaea in AD 325, most Christians celebrated the resurrection on Sunday, but some celebrated it on the 14th Nisan in the Jewish calendar (i.e. Passover). At the council Christians agreed to celebrate on the first Sunday after 14th Nisan because that was the day Jesus was resurrected — the Sunday after Passover.

CONSTANTINE

Finally what about the idiotic claim, “After Constantine decided to Christianize the Empire, Easter was changed to represent Jesus”? (Naturally Constantine always has to be at the centre of every good Christian conspiracy theory.)

Constantine simply legalised Christianity - he did not enforce it. It was over 40 years after Constantine’s death that Theodosius I (378-395) made Christianity the state religion.

In the late 2nd century, Roman bishop Victor weighed arguments about 2 competing dates for Easter. 1 How could Constantine ‘invent’ Easter if people were already debating about it a century before he was born?

1 Eusebius, Church History 5.23.3

What exactly did Constantine change? There was no corresponding pagan festival. The celebration date was linked to a lunar-based Jewish festival.

Constantine spoke both Greek and Latin and in those languages the existing feast in his time was already known as ‘Pascha’ (a word derived from the Hebrew word for Passover). The word ‘Easter’ is a Germanic word which was first mentioned by the Anglo-Saxon (Old English) monk Bede 4 centuries after Constantine.

Allegations that the first Christian Roman emperor Constantine tried to appease his pagan subjects are bogus.

He had his statue removed from pagan temples.

Treasures of many temples were confiscated and given to Christian churches. The repair of pagan temples that had decayed was forbidden. These funds were given to the favoured Christian clergy. Within his reign the cost of the church became larger than the cost of the entire imperial civil service.

He replaced pagan government officials with Christians. Leading Roman families refusing Christianity were denied positions of power.

Hardly the actions of a man trying to curry favour with pagans?

CONSTANTINE

A hot cross bun is a spiced sweet bun made with currants or raisins and marked with a cross on the top, traditionally eaten on Good Friday in the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and India. 1

The cross is said to represent the crucifixion of Jesus and the spices inside remind Christians “of the spices put on the body of Jesus.” 1 Amazingly hot cross buns haven’t yet been linked to the worship of Ishtar or Eostre. Food historian Ivan Day states:

“The buns were made in London during the 18th century. But when you start looking for records or recipes earlier than that, you hit nothing.”

1 https:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Hot_cross_bun

HOT CROSS BUNS

“EMPTY” PROMISES

See NOTE 2

The unrighteous justify the unjust situation or society they live in with empty arguments. As a result God promises to be silent!

Isa 59:1-4 Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken falsely, and your tongue mutters wicked things. No one calls for justice; no one pleads a case with integrity. They rely on empty arguments, they utter lies; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil.

EMPTY ARGUMENTS

False religious leaders appeal to people’s lust with empty words. They are promised “blackest darkness”.

2 Pet 2:17-18 These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error.

EMPTY WORDS

False teachers use empty words to deceive people into thinking they can live in open sin and still be Christians. Those who heed them are promised “God’s wrath”.

Eph 6:3-8 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient… For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light …

EMPTY WORDS

God exalts the humble, while the rich are promised emptiness. Mary prayed in Luke 1:50-53:

RICH BUT EMPTY

… he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.

Those who get rich by cheating in business are promised no true satisfaction in their riches:

Micah 6:10-14 Am I still to forget, O wicked house, your ill-gotten treasures and the short ephah, which is accursed? Shall I acquit a man with dishonest scales, with a bag of false weights? Her rich men are violent; her people are liars and their tongues speak deceitfully. Therefore, I have begun to destroy you, to ruin you because of your sins. You will eat but not be satisfied; your stomach will still be empty. You will store up but save nothing

RICH BUT EMPTY

God promises that his word will not return to him empty:

Isa 55:10-11 “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

Josh 21:45 Not one of all the LORD’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.

WILL NOT RETURN EMPTY

When Jesus came to earth he emptied himself of his rights as God, and as a man became subject to death. Therefore God promises that every knee will bow to him.

Phil 2:6-11 (NASB) … who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord…

EMPTIED HIMSELF

John 20:1-18 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb …

EMPTY TOMB

See NOTE 2

and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.

See NOTE 2

So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

See NOTE 2

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb.

See NOTE 2

Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.

See NOTE 2

He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in.

See NOTE 2

Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb.

See NOTE 2

He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen.

See NOTE 2

Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.

See NOTE 2

Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

See NOTE 2

They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”

See NOTE 2

At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

See NOTE 2

He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

See NOTE 2

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

See NOTE 2

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher”).

See NOTE 2

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ”

See NOTE 2

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

See NOTE 2

The following is a true story related by Ida Mae Kempel in an article appearing in Focus on the Family, in April 1988. The names have been changed for sake of privacy.

Jeremy was born with a twisted body, a slow mind and a chronic, terminal illness that had been slowly killing him all his young life. Still, his parents had tried to give him as normal a life as possible and had sent him to St. Theresa's elementary school. At the age of 12, Jeremy was only in second grade, seemingly unable to learn.

His teacher, Doris Miller, often became exasperated with him. He would squirm in his seat, drool and make grunting noises. At other times, he spoke clearly and distinctly, as if a spot of light had penetrated the darkness of his brain. Most of the time, however, Jeremy irritated his teacher.

JEREMY’S EGG

One day, she called his parents and asked them to come to St. Teresa’s for a consultation. As the Foresters sat quietly in the empty classroom, Doris said to them, “Jeremy really belongs in a special school. It isn’t fair to him to be with younger children who don’t have learning problems. Why, there is a five-year gap between his age and that of the other students!”

Mrs. Forrester cried softly into a tissue while her husband spoke. “Miss Miller,” he said, “there is no school of that kind nearby. It would be a terrible shock for Jeremy if we had to take him out of this school. We know he really likes it here.”

JEREMY’S EGG

Doris sat for a long time after they left, staring at the snow outside the window. Its coldness seemed to seep into her soul. She wanted to sympathize with the Foresters. After all, their only child had a terminal illness. But it wasn’t fair to keep him in her class. She had 18 other youngsters to teach and Jeremy was a distraction. Furthermore, he would never learn to read or write. Why spend any more time trying? As she pondered the situation, guilt washed over her. “Oh God,” she said aloud, “here I am complaining when my problems are nothing compared with that poor family! Please help me to be more patient with Jeremy.” From that day on, she tried hard to ignore Jeremy’s noises and his blank stares.

JEREMY’S EGG

Then one day he limped to her desk, dragging his bad leg behind him. “I love you, Miss Miller,” he exclaimed, loudly enough for the whole class to hear. The other children snickered, and Doris’s face turned red. She stammered, “wh-why, that’s very nice, Jeremy. Now please take your seat.”

Spring came, and the children talked excitedly about the coming of Easter. Doris told them the story of Jesus, and then to emphasize the idea of new life springing forth, she gave each of the children a large plastic egg. “Now,” she said to them “I want you to take this home and bring it back tomorrow with something inside that shows new life. Do you understand?”

JEREMY’S EGG

“Yes, Miss Miller!” The children responded enthusiastically - all except for Jeremy. He just listened intently; his eyes never left her face. He did not even make his usual noises. Had he understood what she had said about Jesus’ death and resurrection? Did he understand the assignment? Perhaps she should call his parents and explain the project to them.

That evening, Doris’s kitchen sink stopped up. She called the landlord and waited an hour for him to come by and unclog it. After that, she still had to shop for groceries, iron a blouse and prepare a vocabulary test for the next day. She completely forgot about phoning Jeremy’s parents.

JEREMY’S EGG

The next morning, 19 children came to school, laughing and talking as they placed their eggs in the large wicker basket on Miss Miller’s desk. After they completed their math lesson, it was time to open the eggs. In the first egg, Doris found a flower. “Oh yes, a flower is certainly a sign of new life,” she said. “When plants peek through the ground we know that spring is here.” A small girl in the first row waved her arms. “That’s my egg, Miss Miller,” she called out.

JEREMY’S EGG

The next egg contained a plastic butterfly, which looked very real. Doris held it up. “We all know that a caterpillar changes and turns into a beautiful butterfly. Yes, that is new life, too”.

Little Judy smiled proudly and said, “Miss Miller, that one is mine.”

JEREMY’S EGG

Next Doris found a rock with moss on it. She explained that the moss, too, showed life. Billy spoke up from the back of the classroom.

“My daddy helped me!” he beamed.

JEREMY’S EGG

Then Doris opened the fourth egg. She gasped. The egg was empty! Surely it must be Jeremy’s, she thought, and, of course, he did not understand her instructions. If only she had not forgotten to phone his parents. Because she did not want to embarrass him, she quietly set the egg aside and reached for another.

Suddenly Jeremy spoke up. “Miss Miller, aren’t you going to talk about my egg?” Flustered, Doris replied, “but Jeremy - your egg is empty!”

JEREMY’S EGG

He looked into her eyes and said softly, “yes, but Jesus’ tomb was empty too!”

Time stopped. When she could speak again. Doris asked him, “Do you know why the tomb was empty?” “Oh yes!” Jeremy exclaimed. “Jesus was killed and put in there. Then his Father raised him up!” The recess bell rang. While the children excitedly ran out to the school yard, Doris cried. The cold inside her melted completely away.

Three months later Jeremy died. Those who paid their respects at the mortuary were surprised to see 19 eggs on top of his casket ................... all of them empty.

EMPTY TOMB

The empty tomb of Jesus assures us of the veracity of his promise that one day we too will leave an empty tomb.

EMPTY TOMB

I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die… (John 11:25)

See NOTE 1

Without God life promises to be empty, futile and meaningless.

Eccl 1:2-8 2“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” What do people gain from all their labours at which they toil under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again. All things are wearisome, more than one can say.

AN EMPTY LIFE

Man, writes Loren Eiseley, is the Cosmic Orphan. He is the only creature in the universe who asks, “Why?” Other animals have instincts to guide them, but man has leamed to ask questions. “Who am I?” man asks. “Why am I here? Where am I going?” Since the Enlightenment, when he threw off the shackles of religion, man has tried to answer these questions without reference to God. But the answers that came back were not exhilarating, but dark and terrible. “You are the accidental by-product of nature, a result of matter plus time plus chance. There is no reason for your existence. All you face is death.” Modern man thought that when he had gotten rid of God, he had freed himself from all that repressed and stifled him. Instead, he discovered that in killing God, he had also killed himself. For if there is no God, then man’s life becomes absurd. 1

1 http:// reasonablefaith.org/ the-absurdity-of-life-without-god #ixzz3ze8QhO00

AN EMPTY LIFE

Solomon seemingly had it all - wealth, power, education, fame, pleasure and self-indulgence. Yet he makes the depressing statement, “I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” (Eccl 1:14)

AN EMPTY LIFE

In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon mentions many things that appear to be meaningless or vanity when considered from the limited human point of view of “under the sun.” Without God, the following things are meaningless:

Human wisdom (2:14–16)

Work (2:18–23)

Human justice (3:16-17)

Being human rather than animal (3:18–22)

Success and competition (4:4)

AN EMPTY LIFE

Being a loner (4:7–8)

Political power (4:13-16)

Money (5:8-17)

Possessions (6:1–9)

Ritualistic religion (8:10–14)

So what is the point of the Book of Ecclesiastes?

Solomon’s point is that, without God all human effort in your life is meaningless. Although Solomon had everything most people pursue but often never get, without God in the equation he discovered that nothing satisfied him. And so he eventually concludes that there is purpose in life, but it is only found in knowing God and keeping his commands. And so he summarizes at the end:

Eccl 12:1 Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them”

Eccl 12:13 Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.

AN EMPTY LIFE

Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and his resurrection promises to redeem us from an empty life:

1 Pet 1:18-19 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

NO MORE EMPTY LIFE

If the true gospel is preached (without false human wisdom) we have a promise that the cross is not emptied of power:

Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.

1 Cor 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel— not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

NOT EMPTIED OF POWER

God can fill an empty vessel:

2 Kings 3:3-4 Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbours for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”

EMPTY VESSELS FILLED

See NOTE 1

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the NIV: THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. (http:// www.Lockman.org)

Scripture quotations taken from the ESV: English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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