Vanity, warns Ecclesiastes in the Holy Bible, “All is vanity.” Ecc. 1:2. And the writer, King Solomon, goes on to mention this 31 times in 27 verses according to the ESV translation. So what is the meaning of this word? The Book of Ecclesiastes is found within the Old Testament portion of the Bible, originally written in Hebrew there are 5 words which describe the word vanity.
H205 ‘aven ä·ven’ iniquity, wicked (ness), vanity, affliction, mischief, unrighteous, evil, false, idol, mourners, mourning, nought, sorrow, unjust, vain
H1892 hebel heh’vel vanity, vain, altogether
H7385 riyq rēk vain, vanity, no purpose, empty, vain thing
H7723 shav’ shäv vain, vanity, false, lying, falsely, lies
H8414 tohuw tō’·hü vain, vanity, confusion, without form, wilderness, nought, nothing, empty place, waste
*H numbers are from Strongs Concordance; http://strongs-concordance.com/
As we can see, from the various meanings it is hardly a positive or healthy outlook!
Fast forwarding to the present day and age and it would seem that not much has changed over the centuries and aeons since the time of Solomon. He was full of godly wisdom and warned of this human state. Yet it is obvious of the condition within Western society, that this warning has never been heeded or overcome. Solomon writes in Chapter 2 of the vanity of self-indulgence. He may as well be writing for the readers of today, for never has there been a time of such indulgence of self. Call it what you will from the extremes of narcissism, egocentrism, boasting, selfishness and pride. This foolish ‘i-generation’ who worship ‘Apple’s’ mass produced technology products; in fact, there is a voracious appetite for the consumeristic; materialistic society which rends one blind to a self-sickness, greed and idolatrous behaviour. The accumulation of all manner of possessions binds us, our lives are none the happier as we constantly crave and desire more, ever more. Our self-measure in goods and acquisitions are quite plainly killing us, but we see it not. No one will listen or be told to change as they balk at the very idea and cling ever tighter to what makes them feel good or important. They see not that their lives are being destroyed; they forget the One true God and worship at the altar of Individuality and think in total ignorance that they are free.
The ignorance of truth and ignoring the reality of such a depraved life, certainly so far from what God intends, is lost on the creature. Let a lament rise up over post-modernity and let hearts be rent before God. Spirituality is no more than a pick and mix affair, so synchronistic that it makes one’s soul shudder to think of the mess humanity has slipped into. A dire and deep hole, with no escape and a darkness they think will cover the sinful wantonness. God must be heart-broken as he sees and hears the lost heading further, and further away from him. How he yearns for his creatures, his children to return. He interferes not, just as a parent has to sometimes stand aside and wait.
If you have read this far without being disturbed, start feeling so, for a wake-up call from this insidious danger cannot be ignored for too long. Our small lives are far too brief to think it unimportant or that we still have time on our side. Tomorrow is merely future and as yet unknown, but it can be decided today so that all our tomorrows will be different. You can buck the system that binds you and steals the joy and abundant life that Jesus spoke of. It is never too late whilst it is daylight, to discover a way to true life. Wisdom comes with the decision to turn around and face our behaviour and our choices which have led us onto a slippery slope. As Solomon urged, if only we stopped; if only we took the time to actually think through what is important, before we are forced by circumstances out of our control into a dead end.
No one these days likes to be told what to do anymore, rebellion and self-importance rise up like a deep sea monster and any advice is unwelcome as folks are non-too shy to let you know; you are annoying for disturbing their little empires they have so carefully built. However, build on a poor foundation, you will sink into that sandy deposit; build on dreams of self-veined glory and it is a disastrous calamity waiting. Nothing is forever and in this life, we must take care lest we are duped of our inheritance God promises both here and now. In this hurting and grief-stricken world we live in where hope, peace, joy, love and acceptance are increasingly unknown or seemingly out of reach to a whole generation there is an answer; there is a light that shines in the darkness for it is never too late.
Everyone wants to be happy, yet it is sought after in the oddest places or worse in the vilest. What has happened to the innocence of youth, when all hope and desires were possible and life was sweet? There is a felt heaviness over life that we were never intended to shoulder; never intended to carry such heavy burdens. The erosion of goodness and truth has worn to a thin veneer for underneath lies much pain and despair. Evil, or call it what you will, does exist and deceptions infiltrate our conversations; our education; our relationships; even our own personal values and cherished beliefs. How did humanity loose such a high position that God spoke over creation and saw, “Everything that he made, and behold, it was very good.”? (Genesis 1:31) Of course, if you read on in Genesis, chapters 2 and 3 explain what was said to have happened.
But what, some may say if you do not know the Bible, or are not a Christian; what if you have no ‘faith’ or belief? Well, even not believing in God is belief in something, namely that of atheism which is rife in certain areas within modern society. Without getting into any philosophical debate, which is not intended in writing this, there is a legitimate choice offered. Christian’s recognize this as having free-will. We were most certainly not made robots; we were not made with pre-programmed minds, though we were made in God’s image. Now by this, I do not mean we look physically like him, not at all, for God is Spirit. We still reflect, however poorly and that due to the fall of humanity something that still that says we are his (like a hallmark that says we are of infinite value to the Creator) that he made us and that we belong to him. For instance, do we not shed tears emotionally, do we not appreciate and are moved by art or music, do we not sense peace and love, do we not cry out in fear of our lives in danger, “oh GOD!!” We can reason with intelligence, why would we do this if it were not so. The birth of our own children shows and speaks to us of something of the heart of God, for he too is a Father to us, his children.
This world; this life; this moment all are very precious and surely common sense would say that when we truly look at our lives and behaviour; surely there must be more than this? That ache; that desire; that next gasp of breath; that sunset which glows in vibrancy and glory, oh yes there is so much more; yes and it is here now, it is free to receive. Would you not want to exchange the stress the doctor tells you is literally killing you, for deep internal peace; would you not want to exchange the hopelessness of your situation for a hope that is as constant as the stars that shine in the heavens? If you can see within yourself; within your life that all is not what you had hoped for; dreamed of; desired then it could not actually be simpler than to tell God you are sorry, ask for him to forgive you and accept that you need him in your life. He will come, rushing towards you, sweep you up off your feet and hold you. He never lets us go, never disappoints, he loves, he heals and gives you a second chance.
He is the God of love; a love you might never have imagined possible. He will transform your life, give you a new perspective and set your feet on a solid Rock; a safe Rock; Jesus Christ. If this world leaves you jaded, unfulfilled, hurting and feeling worthless then God your heavenly Father will receive you. That step towards him will be the biggest you ever make but one that you will never regret not for one moment in all eternity, so come home today; what are you waiting for?