Nothing New? Ecclesiastes 1:1-14 John 14:1-7
A couple had two little boys, ages 8 and 10, who were excessively mischievous. The two were always getting into trouble... and their parents could be assured that if any mischief occurred their two young sons were in some way involved.
The parents were at their wits end as to what to do about their sons’ behavior. So the parents’ decided to take the boys for a sit-down conference with the Preacher - who was known as a disciplinarian.
The preacher agreed to speak with the boys, but insisted on meeting with them individually. So the 8 year old went to meet with him first. The preacher sat the boy down and asked him sternly,”Where is God?”
The boy made no response, so the preacher repeated the question in an even sterner tone, “Where is God?” Again the boy made no attempt to answer. So the preacher raised his voice even more and shook his finger in the boy's face, “WHERE IS GOD?”
At that the boy jumped up... bolted from the room and ran directly home, slamming himself in the closet. His older brother followed him into the closet and asked what had happened. The younger brother replied, “We’re in BIG trouble this time. God is missing and they think we did it.”
Where is God? I wonder if that’s a question we even ask anymore.
How many of you still have a multi-volume set of World Book Encyclopedias or Encyclopedia Britannica on a bookshelf at home... or maybe tucked away in the attic? I have a friend who was cleaning out his den for some painting... and he tried to give a set away a couple of weeks ago. He ended up taking them to the recycle center.
I can remember so many school projects back in elementary school, Junior High and High School... digging through the volumes... gathering information for my report. Our set of World Books got me through school. I honestly believed the culmination of the collective knowledge of the world was in those books!
Of course, today encyclopedia sets are obsolete. Gone are the days of pulling-out the set of encyclopedias to find out what’s the Capitol of Turkmenistan (or any other nagging question that keeps you awake at night!)
You and I can simply grab our smartphones and ask Siri or Alexa our questions - and in seconds you’ll have your answer. No smart phone or Echo device? No problem! Just pull up web-browser on your desktop and you’re moments away from finding your answer... we have information overload, right at our fingertips! By the way, I don’t want to leave you hanging: Ashgabat (Osh-gah-bot) is the Capitol of Turkmenistan. I know because I Googled it! Yes, “googled” is a verb!
Google is the most popular search engine in the world... and by examining the variety of searches on Google, you and I can gain some insight into what interests us.
So far this year, among athletes, Lebron James and Tiger Woods top the charts... It seems Katy Perry (much to Tammy’s chagrin) and Beyonce’ are in the top-five, along with Justin Bieber, while pop culture had us interested in Matt Lauer and Meghan Markle. Our techie folks are into the iPhone X, and apparently a whole gaggle of people are trying to figure out how to make slime... while others were in the market to lose belly fat fast. To each his own, right?
Every year, Google releases what they call the "Year In Search." It’s a video summarizing the most searched for topics for that given year. And as I watched the "Year In Search 2017" video... I was reminded of some of the things we experienced.
According to this video, the trending searches of 2017 included these questions:
How far can North Korean missiles go? How much will the wall cost? How many refugees are there in the world? How do hurricanes form? AND... How to make a protest sign?
Of course, during any given year, it may be a different country, a new natural disaster, or a different variation of some injustice, but it’s the same problems painted with new dates, new faces, and new names.
Solomon was right in Ecclesiastes 1:9 when he lamented the fact, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”
Solomon was known for his wisdom: and in our scripture today, He was expressing a level of frustration, and disappointment, at how meaningless life can seem when viewed, and lived, outside of the context of God’s Will. He even summed-up his thoughts in the last chapter of Ecclesiastes by saying, “here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of mankind.”
As people of Reformed Faith, we really say the same thing in the very first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism: “What is the chief End of Man? Man’s chief End is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”
When you and I try to do anything else, it’s like trying to put a square peg into a round hole. It just won’t fit! But... we just keep trying and trying - we’re determined to get that square peg in that round hole!
And then we wonder why we’re frustrated... or why it feels like God’s not blessing us! We kick against God’s Will time and again and then wonder why it feels like God is absent... that he can’t be found... that God is lost.
Of course, I think it goes to the point of what I’m trying to say - when we notice what's missing from the lists of top Google searches.
It’s striking to me; that I couldn’t find a single list where the Bible or God or Jesus made the top 10 searches. Mind you, Stormy Daniels made the top 10 in two of the listings, but absolutely nothing religious.
Again... square peg, round hole. We’re constantly searching for satisfaction in things that can never satisfy. Like chasing after the wind... nothing new under the sun...
Think about it: Google processes roughly 40,000 searches every second, or 3.5 billion searches per day, and God isn't even in the top 100 searches after 8-months into the year! I think we’ve found our problem. Our culture is clearly searching for answers to life’s tough questions... but doing so in ways that will not offer the true wisdom that only God provides.
You and I (along with the faithful minority) know that God is the only lasting source for those seeking true wisdom and real answers to life’s toughest questions. Solomon said it best: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).
Who is God? He is our Creator (Genesis 1); our refuge (Psalm 46:1); our stronghold in trouble (Nahum 1:7); our deliverer (Psalm 18:2); our healer (Exodus 15:26); our provider (Philippians 4:19); our advocate (1 John 2:1-2); the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).
And as the way, the truth and the life, Jesus promises to give us something the things of this world simply cannot give. For in a world where there’s nothing new under the sun, God in Christ makes ALL things new! Jesus offers us a new beginning, a new start... a reboot! A clean, forgiven slate! Not once, but every time we fall... every time we fail... every time we miss the mark.
Technology advances, presidential administrations change, tragedy fills our news feed... yet our culture is still searching for the same answers. As Christians, our challenge has never been to find all the answers... our challenge is to help our world redefine the question. Instead of asking “how?” questions... we should be seeking “Who?”
As followers of Christ... we know Who. It’s our job... our calling... to help redirect the question, in the assurance that our world can, and will, find what it’s looking for... what it’s searching for... is in Christ.
Solomon concluded there was nothing new under the sun, so he anchored his faith in the One who reigns over everything. When you put your trust in the One who is sovereign over all things, the One who is the answer to all of life’s questions, our lives display the only answer our culture truly needs: Jesus.
Sent from my iPad