Updated: Apr 23, 2021
If you have ever read through the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes, you have probably found it somewhat depressing.
After all, when the author starts out of the gate telling you that everything is meaningless you can’t help but calling the local Party City to order balloons for the pity-party that is getting ready to ensue.
Life Is Meaningless?
According to Ecclesiastes everything in life and even human existence itself is “vanity’.
The Hebrew word used here is ‘Hebel’ has been treated in many of the major translations as vain / vanity and by a few others as meaningless or pointless.
The concept of Hebel can be explained by the analogy of making it one’s life purpose to building a sandcastle on the beach. That would be pretty dumb, right? But, in a sense, that is exactly what the author and many of us do.
Maybe not literally, but we consume our life’s with temporary things that have no eternal significance.
While the author explains that there is a time and season for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1), including frivolous activities, it is meaningless for a life to revolve around or be consumed in building sandcastles on the beach. In this sense, while we enjoy the things in life, the book calls us to have a correct worldview.
Directed toward younger men and women the book also includes in the meaning of Hebel “vapor" or "breath", which calls to memory a verse in the New Testament that speaks of our life's being fleeting. (James 4:14)
Like Proverbs, Ecclesiastes is calling on man to evaluate his life. Where Proverbs directs our view to the pasts that we will take and the choices and consequence that we will make, Ecclesiastes fixes our gaze on the real meaning of life as a whole. We ought not get caught up on building our lives around and on things that are ultimately Hebel in the light of eternity.
Don’t Chase the Wind
The call of Ecclesiastes is to constantly evaluate. The author begins the book with Hebel and bookends this in chapter twelve by calling the young man/woman to remember or mark their Creator.
Basically, this seem to be a call for a young person to be constantly aware of their works in light of the work of the Creator. Look at what you are living for and chasing after, lest you find yourself chasing the wind. (Ecclesiastes 1:14)
Don’t chase the wind, chase the Creator of the wind.