(this transcript has been lightly edited for readability)
I love Ecclesiastes and I think you should too. It's a reminder that you should run to again and again. I would subtitle Ecclesiastes, “The Search,” because this is a dramatic book. It captures the drama of every human being's existence. We were made in the image of God; and one of the aspects of that is we’re rational human beings, we’re meaning-makers, we want life to make sense to us.
I say this a lot and I mean it, “Everyone, everyone is a theologian whether you're a baker or a painter or a mechanic or an accountant, you’re a theologian. Everyone's a philosopher, everyone's an archaeologist, and you'll dig through the mound of your existence to make sense out of life.” That's why a little child will ask 200 "Why?" questions in a row till their parents are ready to go crazy, because a child wants to understand his world. He wants to know why things are the way they are.
You know, in Ecclesiastes, you see that everyone searches for hope. Everyone is going to hook their hope to something; you want to be hopeful. Everyone searches somewhere for meaning. Everyone looks for truth. Everyone attaches his/her identity to someone, to something. Everyone searches for fulfillment. And what the Ecclesiastes says to us, which is just such good gospel talk, “Everything in this world will fail you.”
You think that your job will satisfy you, and five years later, you’re thinking about working somewhere else. You think your spouse will make you happy and unhappiness creeps back in. You think that money will satisfy your problem, but it won't.
You see, this created world was never designed to satisfy that deeper longing, that deeper hunger for identity and for meaning for satisfaction. All the success in the world doesn't do that. It's always amazing to me, sad at the deepest level, when we’re confronted in the news with some ultimately successful person who has committed suicide. They’ve looked for meaning where meaning can't be found.
And so there's this theme in Ecclesiastes that what we’re searching for can't be found under the sun. “Under the sun” sort of is, if the world, the universe was a sheet of paper, and you would tear off the heavens, you're left with a world that can't provide meaning for you.
Ultimately, meaning is only found in God. We were made for Him, and our hearts will only ever be satisfied and our minds will only rest in union with Him. And so the Ecclesiastes points us to Jesus because Jesus is the One that makes the union with the God who alone is able to satisfy our hearts possible because sin separates me from this One. Sin causes me to look elsewhere for meaning and hope. Sin makes me think that I can be and do what I cannot be and cannot do on my own. Sin causes me to worship at the foot of things that I was never meant to worship.
It's only Jesus who can rescue me and unite me with the One who will bring peace to my heart, satisfaction to my soul, who’ll give me hope that circumstances can't take away, meaning that success cannot buy. No philosophy, no thought, no human action can do what God can do for my heart, and Jesus makes relationship with this One possible.