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WHY IS WORK DIFFICULT ? (Vol 03) - DEATH MAKES WORK MEANINGLESS

Sunday English Service - 17 SEP 17

Transcript

We have been teaching on the subject of work for the last several weeks, as you know. And I said I will teach it in three parts: the first part is about "Why work?", and we talked about it - the reasons/Biblical reasons as to why we must work. The second part is about: "Why work is difficult" - this is moving into the reality of life after the fall. The first part, "Why work?" is about before the fall and everything was fine; the beginning, God's original purposes. But now we are talking about what happened after the fall. Why the work has become difficult? And in that last two weeks I talked about one big reason: that is, sin has made work a toil. The difficulty is because work has now become a toil - work is one thing, toil is another thing. Work is the will of God, work is a blessed thing. Some people consider work itself as a cursed thing. They think it came with a curse; but if you read the bible it tells us that God planted a garden, placed a man there and told him to till it and keep it. That is the job, that is the work that He gave him. And it was done before the fall, when everything was perfect.

So, work came before the fall; and after the fall, work became difficult. This difficulty in work is something that is part of the curse that has come upon man'swork of his hands, as a result of the fall. So we need to understand this in order to understand what is happening today as we go out into the world and work, we need to understand why it is difficult today - it is because of the fall.

Now, last week we dealt with the story of Cain and Abel because we see how after the fall, life has become now. Adam's son turned out to be in devil's nature - the devil is his ‘father-like'; he is a murderer and ends up receiving the same kind of punishment that Adam received in the beginning: the earth shall not yield its full capacity and so on. He cries out to God for mercy and God shows mercy to him and so on. But I then went to Deuteronomy 28 and that is where we ended. Deuteronomy 28:1-14 is an amazing passage. It's covenant blessings passage. We talked about Abraham and then we came to Deuteronomy 28, which is a promise that God gave Abraham's descendants; just before they entered the Promised Land - it's a promise of blessing. The word "blessing" occurs again and again: God says, I will be bless you going out, coming it, bless you in the country and the city; bless the fruit of your womb, the fruit of your cattle, the fruit of your land, even the kneading bowl, and your basket shall be blessed. Your enemies will come one way, run seven ways. The Lord will give you rain in due season; you will not borrow but lend to many nations; you will not be beneath, but you will be above. You will not be the tail, but be the head - that is the essence of what God said. Amazing blessings.

Now, a lot of people always remind me of the fact that the world is under a curse. So we must expect the curse to work in our lives and in the world in which we live. I understand, I can see the curse in operation everywhere. But you must also be aware of the blessing. Now when God blessed Abraham's descendants, with these blessings, did He forget about the curse?Because He said "the earth is cursed"; now He says, "The land is going to be blessed and there's going to be increase". Has He forgotten about the curse that He talked about when Adam sinned? No, He knows that it is there; but what He saying is: even today for a person who does what God wants him to do, and obeys God, and lives by God's word, the blessing is always available. That is why in Deuteronomy 30, He again says: I have put blessing and cursing before you, choose blessing, He says. You have a choice. Are you going to walk in the curse or are you going to walk in the blessing? The curse is there now; before it was not there - there was only blessing before the fall. But after the fall, the curse also has come. Now you have a choice - you have to choose: Are you going to be in the blessing or in the curse. Even before the fall, there was a choice. God told Adam, "The day that you will eat this fruit you shall die". He has got to choose: to walk in life or choose death. He chose death and not life. He said, "If you eat this you will die" and he chose that and he ate it. And he experienced death. Now the choice is always has always been there: Even from the Garden of Aden the choice was given; and I believe that even today, the choice is ours.

Are we going to walk in the blessing or in the cursing? Blessing is more powerful than the curse. The blessing cancels out every curse, and blessing helps us to succeed, even as we live in a world that is under curse. Blessing helps us to overcome the effects of the curse in this world. So, in that way if you see it: Deuteronomy 28:1-14, the same things that are mentioned when God spoke to the serpent, and the woman and the man after the fall are mentioned here - after the fall God spoke to the serpent and said: "I will put enmity between you, your seed and the woman's seed, and he shall crush your head, and you shall bruise his heel". So there is going to be enmity - enemy is going to be there to God's people - that is mentioned there. Then secondly, God told the woman that she is going to have difficulty in child-birth, she is going to have difficulty in her relationship with her husband - marital relationship is going to be difficult.

And then thirdly, God said the earth is going to be cursed and therefore you shall eat by the sweat of your brow - to Adam. And then fourthly, God said there is going to be death. After all this there is death. These are things that are mentioned in Cain's case - we see all of these things played out: the enemy, God actually gives him protection so that nobody would come and kill him; the enemy is there, and then we see the fact - the earth is cursed and so on.

But now in this thing that we are going to talk about today - we are going to talk about how the second reason why work is difficult: and that is, death which came as a result of sin makes work meaningless. That is what I want to talk about today. Sin came and through sin, death came. The bible says in Romans 5:12 that through one man sin came into the world and death through sin, and ruled over all men. So, sin came and through that death came; and when death came, it changed the entire life of man. So that everything is frustrating and meaningless now because death has come - I will show you how. Please turn with me to Ecclesiastes chapter 2. I want to read one verse that we are going to begin there; but then I want to read a lot more later on from the book of Ecclesiastes - this is a very interesting book. There he uses one particular expression. He says: "All is vanity", and I am sure you heard about it - "All is vanity". And I have heard many Christians talk about it and say: the life and the whole world is "Vanity, vanity, vanity". But New International Version of the English bible, NIV - gives us a very interesting word there. It says, instead of vanity, it says "meaningless". That is what "Vanity" means. Vanity means "meaningless". Some translations use the word "futility". You can say "frustration". So because of death that came through sin, there is a futility, there is a meaninglessness, there is a frustrating effect upon man's work, and upon everything - upon our whole life on this earth. It is very frustrating. And look at verse 17, it says: therefore I hated life because the work that was done under the sun was distressing to me - under the sun means he is talking about life in the world as it is, as we see it; was distressing to me for all is vanity and grasping for the wind. Have you ever tried to grasp the wind? That is vanity - you are wasting your time, if you are trying to grasp the wind. So life is like that - it is frustrating: you are trying to get a hold of something - it seems like you can never going to get a hold of that. And what is that meaning, meaning of life. It is so difficult to find, he says. It is so difficult to find, and therefore it is frustrating, he says. So, he says, it was distressing to me to see the life that is under the sun, and everything is vanity and grasping for the wind.

Now, we are going to get into Ecclesiastes - Ecclesiastes is a wonderful book; but it is also a dangerous book if you don't know how to look at it and understand it. You need to learn how to use it and how to understand it. So I am going to say a few things about Ecclesiastes that will help you in your reading of the book. It will make you understand it even more clearly. The book begins with these words: Chapter 1 verse 1: The words of the preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem - that means the book contains the words of this man called the preacher, who was king in Jerusalem; that is what it is saying. These are the words of a preacher, the son of David, the king in Jerusalem. Now after saying that, the preacher is introduced. So someone else is saying this: the writer of this book is saying that these are the words of a preacher, the son of David, king of Jerusalem, and introduces the preacher - introduces this person. Verse 2 to 11 is an introduction of this person; and in the introduction he is simply give a gist of what the preachers ideas are - what the preacher is talking about. And then verse 12, the preacher himself talks straight away. I the preacher it says, verse 12 - was king over Israel in Jerusalem. So the preacher himself talks.

And from verse 12 onwards - all the way to chapter 12, verse 7, you have the preacher directly saying things, and it simply recorded here. So this is how the book begins: it begins by a man who says that: "These are the words of a preacher who was a king of Jerusalem", and then he introduces the king. Talks about what he is sharing here in a few words; and then the king himself - king's words are themselves printed here from verse 12, all the way to chapter 12 verse 7. And then verse 8, this person who introduced him first comes back again. Look at that - vanity of vanity, says the preacher - all is vanity. So now he has come back to evaluate what this preacher has said and gives us the conclusion of the whole matter. So the second person has come - vanity of vanity, says the preacher; all is vanity, takes over from here again. The same person who introduced him comes and takes over again. And now he says, in verse 9: and moreover because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yes, he pondered and sought out, and set in order many proverbs. The preacher sought to find acceptable words and what was written was upright, words of truth. The words of the wise are like gold and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails given by one shepherd; and further my son, be admonished by these. Now he is talking about a son - it looks like this man is writing this book particularly in which he presents the word of this person known as the preacher, who was king in Jerusalem. He is trying to instruct his son using the words of the preacher; the story of the preacher - the life story, literally - the experiences of a preacher, which are recorded from verse 12 of the first chapter, all the way to chapter 12 and verse 7. He is trying to use that to instruct his son about spiritual life. So he says, my son be admonished by these. Of making many books there is no end and much study is wearisome to the flesh - that used to be my favorite verse, as I was growing up - as a student. Much study is wearisometo the flesh, let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter. Now he used the conclusion in just two verses of the whole thing that the preacher has preached. The preacher is preaching, remember, from chapter 1 verse 12, all the way to chapter 12 verse 7. And now this man gives the conclusion. He says, let me tell you what the preacher is saying. He says, "Fear God and keep the commandments" - keep His commandments, for this is man's all - for God will bring every work into judgement including every secret thing, whether good or evil.

The reason why I pointed this out first is because as you read the preacher's words - what the preacher is saying actually, you will find places where he totally talks contrary to the rest of the bible; and you will be confused. What kind of preacher is he? Should I listen to him or not? Some people have even you know, even doubted whether this book should be added to the bible - should even be there; because some of the thoughts that the preacher gives here are totally against the rest of the bible. Let me read to you a sample: Chapter 7 and verse 15 to 17: I have seen everything in my days of vanity:There is a just man who perishes in his righteousness,and there is a wicked man who prolongs life in his wickedness.

- In other words he says, "I have seen a man who is very righteous, but he perished - he died. And there is a wicked man who He prolongs his life in wickedness; he lives in wickedness but he is living long". And then he says, "Do not be overly righteous" - my God, what kind of teaching is this? The rest of the bible says, "Be righteous". The whole point of the bible is telling us to be righteous, be good - right? But he says, "Don't be overly righteous - don't be too righteous, nor be overly wise". The rest of the bible is telling us be wise, seek wisdom and understanding more than gold and silver; because when you get wisdom and understanding on its right hand will be long life. In its left hand will be riches. It will come with both hands, filled with long life and riches. You need wisdom it says. It exalts wisdom - the rest of the bible. But here this man says, "Don't be too wise" - don't try to be too wise. Why should you destroy yourself? My God, I thought if you are righteous and you are wise, that is the way to keep from being destroyed; that is the way the bible teaches - what is wrong with this guy?

Now listen to this - verse 17: Do not be overly wicked - Did you listen to that? That means it is overly right to be slightly wicked - "Don't be overly wicked, nor be foolish:Why should you die before your time?" Now some people would say, "My God, this is totally against the bible". Why did they allow even this book to be one of the 66 books of the bible? It doesn't even deserve to belong here. No, we are doing something wrong with the way we understand it. You see the man is writing about his search for meaning of life. The man is writing his story - the preacher is telling his story about his search for the meaning of life, and in search for meaning of life, certain things that he thought that does not go along with the rest of the bible. Certain thoughts or ideas he had, opinions that he formed in his mind in those days when he was searching, he mentions here; but that is not what the bible teaches. He is simply saying, "This is the way I was". "In the days of my vanity", he says, "This is the way I thought". You must understand that. So, when you read a book like this, you must understand what is happening here. What is happening here is this man - the guy who is actually writing this book is using the words of this preacher, who preached these things, and the preacher is giving his whole life experience of how he found life very frustrating and it was all distressing to him as he looked around in the world because he found out that everything was meaningless, vanity, vanity isan old word - I like the word used by New International Version, "meaningless" - he says, "I felt distressed looking at the world. It is all meaningless, it is all grasping for the wind", he says.

So, he is in a search for meaning for life, and in his search he has had so many experiences. That is what he is sharing; and the man who is actually presenting this book - who opened it with an introduction and closes it with an evaluation; he is using this whole thing that the preacher said to tell his son what life is all about and gives the gist of the conclusion of the book. Now just keep in mind, when you read it, you will understand it better now.

The preacher who is actually saying most of the things that are written in the book - he is talking about the meaninglessness of life and particularly meaninglessness of work. I will show it to you then: he goes through three stages in his life, in his search for meaning for life. The first thing is - he searches by going and searching for wisdom and understanding. Let me read a couple of passages. Chapter 1 verse 13: He is now searching for meaning in his life. See, meaning is so important.

You know, Viktor Frankl- I don't know if you heard about the name, Viktor Frankl- he was a psychiatrist, and in Nazi Germany, when Hitler was killing people, he was there; and right at that time he had applied for a permanent visa to move to America; and there he had processed his application and he got a letter from the US Embassy to come and collect his permanent visa and to move to the US; but his mother and father were there, and there was problem brewing and people are being killed, and great threats were there for their life. So he didn't want to leave them and go. So he was talking to his father and mother one day about his going and how he is rethinking the whole matter - he has got to go and pick up his visa and he is talking to his father and his father told him: I had just been to the synagogue which was demolished and picked up a little piece from the synagogue to bring it home, and then he showed him that. And there was a letter - Hebrew letter printed in that, and this man asked his father what this was all about. He said it was one of the commandments - one of the Ten Commandments. This letter belongs to one of the Commandments' words. And he said, "Which commandment?" And the father said, "It is the commandment that says, "Honour your father and mother so that your days maybe me long on this earth" So the guy decided to stay instead of leaving; even in spite of all the danger that was there.

At that time, later on they were killing people in gas chambers, you know about, hundreds of thousands of Jews were gassed and killed in gas chambers. And this man was about to be killed like that - he was in one of these concentration camps; one of the worst ones. And somehow he was not killed. He survived till the end, with always dreaming about coming back home and seeing his mother and father, and his wife and family and so on. And he came home to find out that his house was completely demolished and his wife, family, everybody - father and mother, everybody had been killed. And then he wrote a book later on, titled: "The Search for Meaning of Life". You won't believe how many copies it sold. You know how many copies it sold? It sold 12 million copies in so many languages.

I said the story, you should read the book; but I told the story, mainly to tell you that the title was so captivating. Just for the title, I think people went and bought it, and the content is very good also. But the thing is the title is so captivating - it drew people to it; 12 million copies were sold. What was it about? In search of the meaning of life - the search for the meaning of life is so important in the minds of millions and millions, and millions of people. Have you got an answer about the search for the meaning of life? Can you talk about the meaning of life and how to find meaning of life? I will tell you the whole world is ready to listen. There is a lot of people that are thinking about the meaning of life; because life to them is frustrating, is vanity, is meaningless; it is distressing, and they are looking for meaning in life. That is why this whole thing is very important.

And meaninglessness in work frustrates people in their jobs so that they lose all motivation in their jobs. And Viktor Franklsays that when you know why: he says when he was there in the concentration camp, when people were taken by truck-loads and being burned literally: he said a lot of people, before they were even burned, they were mentally dead because they have given up. They are just ready to die because they saw their friends, their wives or children or somebody taken to be killed - and when they saw that their hearts lost all hope, and they literally died inside; they were ready just to resign themselves to dying and going on. He said, a lot of people just gave up hope. And the only thing that kept this man going and hoping till the end was that somehow he will see his family one day; and his father and mother and his wife and so on - one day.

He kept dreaming: that one day everything is going to be alright. One day he is going to live a life to tell the story and live a very fruitful and blessed life. That thought that dream of reaching that day, one day; surviving through all this mess, and coming through this whole challenging times and lasting till the end, kept him going, he says. So he says: "If you know the why" - if you know why you are here, why God placed you here, in this world, at this time and why God made you the way He made you; why you are gifted the way you are, why God has given you the abilities and gifts that God has given to you, that you have and possess now. If you know the "Why", then "How" is not a problem - you can deal with many "hows". How are we going to overcome this problem, that problem, this challenge, that challenge - a thousand challenges can be overcome if you know the "Why". It is very much true when it comes to work. When you know why you should work? What was God's original plan? Why we are made as beings that need to work? Just imagine if you are made any other way: Just if you were made to sit down and eat and not to do anything - that would be terrible. All the food is provided, everything is provided, the house is provided. All you need is provided; you don't have to do any work. You just have to stay idle, and just eat and sleep and not to do anything. You will be missing something very precious. The joy of work is this: that you can use your mind to think, plan, execute, device things, invent things, create things. You can be like a little creator, and by what you have created - by looking at it. That experience is so wonderful. The joy that your creation brings to you - that your work brings to you, is something that you can never achieve through anything else. We are created to work. Work is good, work is positive; work was never meant to be a labour. Work was never meant to be a toil - work was meant to be something that brought us great satisfaction; not frustration. Work was meant to be something that brought us great joy, not distress. When we understand "Why", then how to overcome the challenges we face today and why work is difficult is not a problem - we can overcome that. The "Why" must be understood.

So the man goes through three stages: This preacher goes through three stages. The first stage is where there is a quest to make sense of life through learning and wisdom. He is now seeking to learn the meaning of life through learning and wisdom. Someone has told him probably, that if you just learn enough, if you just study enough - if you go and educate yourself enough, then you will have enough wisdom, and that wisdom will answer all the questions of life. You will have the answer to that question - the big question, the meaning of life. So he goes in search of wisdom. In Chapter 1 verse 13, we read this: And I set my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under heaven; this burdensome task God has given to the sons of man, by which they may be exercised. - Now, right there, you must stop and think about this: he says this burdensome task God has given to the sons of man, by which they may be exercised. What is he saying? He says, God has given a burdensome task, and the language is very old here, so let me use some more modern translation - "by which they may exercise" means "by which they maybe afflicted".

This burdensome task - he is talking about work; he says, "This burdensome task God has given" - thus afflicted men. What a view of life and what we do in life? He says, "I looked around, at all that is done under heaven - this burdensome task of life itself, and everything that we do, is given to the sons of men, by which they may be afflicted. In Tamil, it has come out beautifully. Now is that right? If you read chapter 1 and 2 of Genesis, it is not right at all. In chapter 1 and 2 God didn't say I have created you and I have only one purpose, that you may be afflicted and be burdened with all this work, so that it will became wearisome, so that you may be crushed under this work. Is that what God said? No, God said I will make man in our image and likeness. He blessed them and He said, "Be fruitful, multiply, fill, subdue and dominate over everything". God made man in His image - made him like a ruler, planted a garden, put him in it; to cultivate and to keep it. What a wonderful plan God had. This doesn't come from the bible - this is a man looking at the world and he doesn't have the knowledge of God. He doesn't take God into...He doesn't factor in God here. These ideas didn't come from God, didn't come from the bible. This is not God's word where he got his knowledge from. This is worldly wisdom - speculative wisdom. The whole book is trying to show how speculative wisdom leads to vanity - meaninglessness and does not give the meaning - talking about this and that, trying to figure out this and that, only with world's wisdom. See, the world has wisdom of its own; which is in a way good. You know, like you used to do physics, chemistry, mathematics and all these subjects; which is good. But when it comes certain things, the world does not have answers. You know some books of the bible, when you read it; like the book of James or the book of Proverbs in the Old Testament - when you read it, it is like a being in a church, hearing the preaching of a pastor, right. Telling you be good, do good; don't do this and so on - that ethical type of teaching. But when you read Ecclesiastes, it is like attending a philosophy class.

Have you ever attended a philosophy class? When I went to college that is the major they gave me. In my days, you could study only what they give you, not what you ask. So they gave me philosophy major. So I went and sat there - in one week my head was rolling. I just didn't know what in the world was happening. I just went back and told the principal I want some other major. He said, "What?" I said, "Give me anything". He said, "We have only politics. You want" I said, "That is better- give me". I remember when I went to study in Bible College, I went for my visa and the American visa officer said: "You are studying politics. Why do you want to go and study bible now? What has politics have to do with the bible? I said, "Sir, in our country we study only what they give us. So I have been studying what they gave me; but now only I will study what I really want to study." Immediately he stamped me, and said, "Go".

Philosophy is this: I used to tell the Tamil speaking people, "It is like looking for a buffalo in the middle of the night without any light" - when you can't even see a cow in the day time, in broad day light. You are never going to get answers. Philosophy is like this: they ask questions and you are supposed to answer - they ask a question, you answer. And when you answer - obviously your answer is not going to be right in the first instance; and so they would say, "To lead you to the answer, they will ask another question". So you answer that - and then that will lead you to answer question, then you answer that. Then will answer you another question, then you answer. So, it is multiplied questions coming at you and you are going back with your answers. The point is to make you arrive at your own answer. That is the way they teach philosophy.

And this guy is into that kind of a philosophical wisdom thing. He is trying to ask questions about the work: What is happening, what is going on and so on - trying to find answers. Now he has got his own ideas. He is coming up with his answers: his answer is not right. Some people may point out to the bible and say, "Look it says that God has given this burdensome task of life and living and work to men, so that men may be afflicted with it. See, this is the will of God. No, it is not right. It is in the bible, but it is not right. It is in the bible - but this is a man who is talking his own philosophy. This is not the wisdom of God; this is not truth from the bible. You want the truth; you read Genesis 1 and 2; that tells you the truth. God never made life burdensome and wearisome. God never intended man to be afflicted with all these burdens. So this man is doing it with world's wisdom, then he says in verse 15: What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be numbered. I communed with my heart saying, ‘Look I have attained the greatness, and gained more wisdom that all who were before me in Jerusalem. My heart has understood great wisdom and knowledge.' - Finally, he has read all the books and searched everything, and become very educated; looking for the truth, about meaning of life. And he says, I set my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is grasping for the wind. - After trying so hard, reading all the books and trying to understand - get all the wisdom and understanding, he says I have been grasping for the wind. It's a waste of time, he says. It is just...I didn't get nothing out of it, no answer: "For in much wisdom is such grief. And he who increases in knowledge, increases sorrow"- that is his conclusion. After searching for wisdom and understanding, he says it only leads to sorrow.

Let me read to you another passage: chapter 2 verse 12 onwards: Then I turned myself to consider wisdom and madness and folly, for what can the man do who succeeds the king? —Only what he has already done. Then I saw that wisdom excels folly as light excels darkness.The wise man's eyes are in his head, but the fool walks in darkness.Yet I myself perceived that the same event happens to them all. - He is talking about the wise man and the fool and in the end the same things happens to both the wise man and the fool, he says. So I said in my heart,as it happens to the fool,it happens to me,and why was I then more wise?" (Now you are getting to be a real philosopher)Then I said in my heart,this is also vanity, meaningless. - The same thing that happens to the fool, that doesn't even think with his brain, the same thing happens to me, who is well educated and studied, he says. For there is no more remembrance of the wise than of the fool forever,since all that now is will be forgotten in the days to come.And how does a wise man die?- as a fool. - How does the wise man die? Just like the fool, he says. There is no difference in the way people die: whether you are wise or fool, you die the same way, he says.

So I thought about all of all these things: he says, I thought about the fact that everything is going to be forgotten. Nobody is going to remember me for my great wisdom and all; but I am not going to be celebrated and remembered 200 years from now, nobody will even know who I am. I thought about all of these things. I am going to die the same death as a fool in this world, who doesn't even think much. Then why am I wise, he says? In other words, he is thinking about death. He says one day we are going to die. This life is not a lasting life - one day we are all going to die. And when we die everything ends. I don't see anything beyond death. And because we are going to die, everything that we try to do now is a waste, is meaningless because it is going to die with us. Death makes everything frustrating; death makes everything meaningless.

The fact that you go and study so much, and go to college, and try so hard, and then go to work, and earn so hard; and go work so hard and then get married, and work on it so hard, and then build a house; and work on it so hard to build a house, in all these business; and then finally you die. And someone is enjoying this. This is a waste of time. He says, I thought about it; because the end of everything is death. And death is not going to be something very special, he says. They are not going to have a special death event for me because I wise; I am going to die just the fool. And just like the fool is forgotten, I am going to be forgotten, he says. So there is frustration. He is frustrated literally; he says, "What is the point of me getting up, going studying searching for wisdom, trying so hard and getting all this wisdom. I learned more than anybody else", he says. But it is frustrating to think that one day, it is all going to end - nobody is going to care anything about what I knew: yet I knew more than anybody else, he says. How frustrating it is. The more you learn, the more frustrating it becomes. The more you learn, more sorrow only you get, he says. In Tamil it says beautifully. Tamil, sometimes I enjoy: the Tamil version of it - sometimes I enjoy the English - I preach in both languages. The last verse is like this in Tamil: It says,arivuperuthavan, novuperuthavan. Those of you who know Tamil, you see the power of those words.

It is worldly wisdom, worldly knowledge. You get so much of it, that it just frustrates you even more - more than ever you are frustrated; you are distressed by it, he says. But then, since he didn't find it in wisdom and understanding, and learning, he is now trying to find meaning for life in something else; that is "pleasure". He goes after pleasure now - Ecclesiastes chapter 2: see you got a good exposure to Ecclesiastes now. In this church when you come, all these books that are never opened will get opened one time or the other and we'll go through it; we will help you to understand a little better. Chapter 2 verse 1: I said in my heart, "Come now, I will test you with mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure; but surely, this also was vanity. I said of laughter—Madness, and of mirth, what does it accomplish? I searched in my heart how to gratify my flesh with wine, while guiding my heart with wisdom, and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the sons of men to do under heaven all the days of their lives.

- He says, well, I was getting educated while I was getting the wisdom - I saw some people were drinking, and I thought maybe I should try that also. Maybe in that there is something. See up-to-date book this is. This is not old. This is current realities. He says, I make my works great, I build myself houses and planted myself vineyards. I made myself gardens and orchards, and I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made myself water pools from which to water the growing trees of the grove. I acquired male and female servants, and had servants born in my house. Yes, I had greater possessions of herds and flocks than all who were in Jerusalem before me. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the special treasures of kings and of the provinces. I acquired male and female singers, the delights of the sons of men, and musical instruments of all kinds. So I became great and excelled more than all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me.

- The learning is still there, now he is really getting into pleasure. Learning didn't accomplish what he was looking for. It didn't give him meaning for life, so he has kept the learning, but is now adding to it pleasure. Whatever my eyes desired (listen to this) whatever my eyes desired, I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart rejoiced in all my labour and this was my reward from all my labour. He says I didn't keep anything that my eyes desired. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure. Here is a guy who has tried everything in the world. One time one guy said, "I am going to try that one also". I said don't try, just read this. Don't waste your time. This guy has gone through it, never left anything; tried A to Z - everything. And read his conclusion - that is why Ecclesiastes is given. This guy has tried everything. Don't waste your money, don't waste your time, don't waste your effort - just read. This guy says, "I have tried everything. Nothing that my eyes saw, nothing that my heart desired, I kept from it. I gave it all. Then I look on all the works that my hands had done on the labour in which I toiled. And indeed all was vanity, and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun" He has built houses, orchards - built everything so that he can have pleasure. He tried drinking, he tried everything in the world. Nothing that his eyes desired, nothing that his heart desired, he kept from it - he gave it all. He went gungho on it - just full speed, and tried everything. Nothing worked; he says, "All meaningless". So now he has tried wisdom, and then he tried pleasure. The third thing he is going to try work. Now I still have not left my subject - some of you are looking at me and saying: "What are you talking about? You are supposed to talk about work"I am talking about work, to come to this third point only, I went through the first two points.

So the third thing he tries to find meaning for life is work. He thinks that work, if he gets fully into it - like he got into learning and like he got into pleasure, if he gives himself fully to it, and work and work, and work, and really gives himself to it, somehow he will find the meaning of life. So, he goes into work. And Ecclesiastes 2:17 inwards: Let's read 17 onwards: Therefore I hated life because the work that was done under the sun was distressing to me, for all is vanity and grasping for the wind. Then I hated all my labor in which I had toiled under the sun, because I must leave it to the man who will come after me. And who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? - See he is thinking about death. He says, I am doing all of these things. He says he has gotten into work now/into labour - really works night and day, tries very hard and he goes through the toil of work. But then all of a sudden the thought comes to him: "Why am I doing all this? For what? For who? I am going to die one day. There is a guy who is going come after me. I don't know whether he is going to be a fool or wise, good or bad. What kind of person is going to come after me? Why should I work so hard and store up so much for that guy to come and enjoy?"

You can see how frustrating that would be. He won't feel like going back to work tomorrow morning, if he feels like that. He is now thinking about death. Death is what frustrates him. If there was no death, just imagine if there was no death, it won't be so frustrating. And say, "Well, I am going to live forever and ever. I am going to enjoy the fruit of my labour. I am going to work hard and I am going to enjoy life forever and ever" And he will go to work and do his best. The fact that sin has brought death and death has become an inevitable reality of life, he is so frustrating, makes life meaningless to the question: "Why should I do this? For whom am I doing this?" There is no answer, because you are going to die.

He says (verse 21) for there is a man whose labor is with wisdom, knowledge, and skill, yet he must leave his heritage to a man who has not labored for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. - He says I labour, I do everything and I store up, and a guy who comes behind me will not have to labour so much. He has already got it. This is meaningless. A great evil, he says.For what has man for all his labor, and for the striving of his heart with which he has toiled under the sun? - I mean what do you get for toiling all your life, he says. For all his days are sorrowful, and his work burdensome; even in the night his heart takes no rest. This also is vanity, meaningless. - He says every day is hard, sorrowful, burdensome. Even at night you cannot have rest. You are thinking about work, work and the problems at work; and the challenges at work and so on. Work is weary. Nothing is better for a man thanhe should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God. For who can eat, or who can have enjoyment, more than I? For God gives wisdom and knowledge unto a man who is good in His sight; but to the sinner He gives the work of gathering and collecting, that he may give to him who is good before God. This also is vanity and grasping for the wind.

- Another think that frustrates him is, for one man God gives the wisdom and knowledge, and joy to the man who is good in God's sight. But to the sinner He gives the work of gathering and collecting; and storing up so that he may give to him who is good before God. In other words, I work and earn and do everything and I gather up. And to the other fellow God just gives him wisdom and understanding, and joy so that he can enjoy it. This is evil, this is bad. There is no justice in this system, why should I work and let somebody have the fruit of it. Death literally frustrates him. The fact that he will die one day makes everything a waste, gives no meaning for anything in life. Death is frustrating; you know it really is when you think of it. And people don't understand life as the bible teaches, then death becomes very... If you don't understand life then you will have problem understanding death. And like Paul says in 2 Timothy chapter 4, where he comes to the end of his life, he realizes that he is going to die, he is very near death, he says, I am being poured out like a drink offering, he says.

- In the Old Testament there was a drink offering where they would bring a vessel full of some drink and pour it out before the Lord, until every drop is poured out. He says he views life like that. Life is like you have come like a full jar and you are every day being poured out - your life is being poured out. What God has put within you is poured out for the benefit of others for the glory of God. It is like an offering to God. You know that your life itself is an offering to God. It's not what you bring really. It's you bring yourself; your life itself is an offering. You are everyday being poured out. That is the way Paul views life. He says, "I am poured out every day". And till the last drop is gone, I am being poured out, he says. And he says I have come to the last drops. I am going to come to end of my life pretty soon, he says. Then he says I have fought the good fight, kept the faith. The crown of righteousness is therefore waiting for me, he says. He has got a view of life and then that leads to a good view of death.

First he talks about life. What is life? To him it is a drink offering, where God has put something in it in you and you pour it out in this world, for the benefit of others, for the glory of God. You are being poured out; that is how you live your life, until the last drop is poured out. You pour out everything that is in you: what God has given to you, you give it. And spend it, and live for God, and glorify God. And then when you die - what is death? To Paul, death is something glorious. When the last drop is poured out, it is very glorious because you have done what you are called to do and now you are going to go and a crown is waiting for you. When your view of life is right, then your view of death is right. When your view of life is not there properly, then your view of death is very distressing. You think, "My, God it's all going to come to an end". What am I going to do? Where I am going to go?" - That kind of a thing. But when your view of life is there, then you know what you are doing every day. You are being poured out. I am going there today. If I am preaching, I am being poured out. Tomorrow if I go somewhere and do something, I am being poured out. Everything that I do is a pouring out, where I go and do what God has told me to do. It is a pouring out of my life until the last day of my life. That is the way you view life, he says. Then, when the last day comes, for the last drop is poured out - to be poured out, then that would be the glorious day, because you are now going to get a crown. So that the point of death becomes a glorious point, where you are going for your crown.

So here is a man looking for meaning for life. He searched it in wisdom - he couldn't get it. He searched it in pleasure, he couldn't get it. He searched for it in work and couldn't get it. Now work is what we are talking about. So let me say this: work can be really frustrating if you - am sure you have all experienced it in some way or the other. It can be really frustrating: Work under the sun, sometimes seems meaningless because it does not last forever. It is something that will come to an end and therefore it takes away our future. So work is really frustrating. You have been doing so much, and you trying so hard, trying to achieve certain things and so on. Sometimes the goals are not reached. But the thing is: whatever you have done contributes to the next person to come in to build on that and go further. One person cannot do everything, but it becomes frustrating that you cannot live on and live on forever, and see the accomplishment of things you worked so hard for - that is what is frustrating about. And so, the preacher here experiences that frustration: He says, "Oh, it is frustrating".

Now the frustrating comes today as a result of one or two things: One is I think the way we end up choosing our jobs. You know today we live a more privileged life, I think than any other society before us, probably. Today we have options: we can choose. Gone are the days when they chose us for work. Just like the college, they told you what to major in. You can't tell them, you get what you want. You just take what they give you - it's mercy. You can't say, "I want justice".

Today, you have the option of choosing. So it is important how you choose. And they did a study on how people choose and they found out, people choose basically along three lines: Three things they consider when they choose a job. One is: How much pay - that seems to be a very important item on the list. How much will you pay me? So they ask: "How much will this pay?" One lakh a month. How much that does that pay? 2 lakhs. So, maybe I should study for that - it is 2 lakhs a month - that is the way it goes. So that is one way. And the other way is there are some people that have some noble thoughts: they want to do something in societies - be useful person. And they want a society to flourish, as a result of work. So they think in those terms. They say, "Can I do something that is good for the society, while at the same time I am earning, and so on?" So they choose on the basis of that. And that is good, nothing wrong with that.

And then the third way that people choose is what they call the "Cool factor". You know the word, "Cool", is a very cool word nowadays. Is it cool? The profession, the job I am going to get it, is it cool? That means, "Is it very impressive when I tell people what I am doing. Does it impress people? - The cool factor. See, there is no thinking about: Who am I? What am I gifted for? What are my abilities? What am I passionate about? What do I like very much? What do I like to spend my whole life doing? No thinking about that.What will it pay? What can it do for the society? That is a noble thought - but that is not enough, you see.


And the cool factor: is it cool, the job am going to do? Is somebody going to hear me say what am I doing? And are they going to say, "Hey that is cool man?" That is the cool factor. These are the three things based on which they choose on what they are going to do. They don't consider the profession. Because they don't consider the gifts or talents or abilities, their inclinations, their passions for certain things - they do not bring that into picture at all. They end up choosing on the basis of money or social benefits and social work, or ability to bless others, and then just the "Cool factor".

What happens is this: They go and engage in a work. Most of the time, which has nothing to do with their abilities, their gifts and talents. And sometimes into some work which is beyond their abilities and gifts, and qualifications and talents. They get into something that is beyond them - they cannot perform well because there brain is not made like that. They are not made like that. They are not that kind of a person. They may do something else well, but not this. So they end up doing something that has nothing to do with their gifts and abilities, or talents because they never gave any thought to that.

See, when you are looking at your gifts and your abilities, and talents, then you are really looking at what God has put within you. You don't have to look very far. When I say, "Do something that God has made you to do" I am not saying go ask a prophet what you are made for. What does he know? Unless God tells him specifically or something about you - which is possible. But the thing is: That is not a good way always. The good way always is - and a good way for everybody is to look into themselves to see what they are passionate about, what they are gifted for, what they love doing for the rest of their lives and what they really want to do, and get into that. And when you go into the wrong thing, then you get into something that does not have anything to do with your gift, or abilities or liking. And it is beyond you some times. And that can very frustrating. That can become very distressing for people. That is something that we all have to think about. So we want to choose something that we can do well, that has to do with who we are and our gifts, and our abilities and talents. That is so important in this world - it's a very basic thing and we will talk more about it in the days to come.

But the lessons from Ecclesiastes are this: Go back to the last Chapter, please. The lesson is this - look at verse 8. The man who introduced is now coming back. He says, Vanity, of vanities says the preacher, all is vanity. - Now he is summarizing what the preacher has said. He says the preacher says everything is meaningless. In New International Version, you will read: Meaningless, meaningless, meaningless, the preacher says. Everything is meaningless. And moreover because the preacher was wise - he still taught the people knowledge. Yes he pondered and sought out; and set in order many proverbs. The preacher sought to find acceptable words, and what was written was upright words of truth. The words of the wise are like goads, and words of scholars are well-driven nails, given by one shepherd. And he says, My son be admonished by these of making many books there is no end and much study is wearisome to the flesh.

And now the conclusion, he says. Hearthe conclusion of the whole matter. What is the conclusion? Very simple - he says: Fear God and keep his commandments; for this is man's all. This is your total duty, he says: Fear God and keep his commands. That means respect God, have place for God in your life. What is the essence of success in life? What is the essence of finding meaning for life? He says, Just get in touch with God. Why God? See something people think: "What necessity or need I have for God?" I don't need God; I am fine without God. What do I need God for? Well if you don't have God, you don't even know where to go, what to do. Your mother and father don't know where to send you and what to do with you, most of the time. Unless they are following God's guidelines. Only God knows - God has put the gifts and abilities within you. God has made you born in a certain family, in a certain situation, in a certain circumstance - to expose you to certain things, to be raised in certain way, to do certain things.

God is the author of your life, he knows. That is why Chapter 12, itself begins with a topic: Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth. - It is telling the young people - remember the Creator in the days of your youth. And if you read the rest of the chapter - in Chapter 12, he is already getting into it. In other words, the conclusion of the matter is: He says, "Look, I have searched for wisdom, I didn't get the meaning of life; I searched for pleasure, meaning of life was not found there; I went through work and work can be frustrating without God - without God's purposes, without knowing what is in me, and what I am made for. Work can be very frustrating. I went through all that, I can tell you, don't go through that; because I went through all of that, and nothing satisfied me - nothing gave me meaning of life. Everything is meaningless and distressed - it is all vanity, he says.

Then what gives meaning? He says, Remember. What is the answer? Remember your Creator in the days of your youth. When you are very young, get a hold of God. Well, what will He do for me? My relationship with Him, He will be able to guide me to my destiny, my destination - where I should go. He will show me what to do, He will show me where to go, what kind of work to do; guide me every step of the way. If I respect Him, reverence Him, hear Him, do what He says. He says, "Don't wait until you get aged" - you know that is the meaning of the rest of the verses - in case you read it and you don't understand, it is all figurative speech. In Chapter 12, after verse 1, it is all figurative speech. It is basically saying, Before you teeth falls off, and you have to go for false teeth, and before your eyes become dim and before your legs begin to shake and you can't even walk straight - before you have all this physical difficulties and you are literally getting into old age. You know a lot of young people think they are very wise to neglect God all through their lives and get a hold of God, just before they die. They used to suggest to me that.

In my younger days I used to go play for every preacher, and go with them and play music and sing. One fellow told me, "You are a young man, you must enjoy your life well now. When are you going to enjoy life? You are going with these preachers, staying in these very bad places. You even have a bed to sleep in. You go to these villages and carry youraccordion on your head and walk through the paddy fields and go playing in little villages. What are you doing? You must enjoy life now. Come, let's enjoy." He is telling me to enjoy pleasure. But thank God at one point I decided I will go with God at a very young age. Just imagine me trying to get a hold of God now; since my hair is grey and I am getting up in years, trying to get a hold... God told me what I should do. He will show He is gracious - but still all those years are gone. That is why he says, "Remember your Creator when you are young". What a message to young people today. Get close with God. Get in a very good relationship with God. Why? Because He will guide you and His guidance will be tremendous - you will be blessed.

I look back - now I am 64, and I look back, all these years: Thank God, I didn't waste any more time. Thank God I didn't listen to that guy that said, "Enjoy life, men. You can enjoy only when you are young". I enjoyed when I am young, I am enjoying when I am old also. There is so much enjoyment in this way. No headache - enjoyment. God gives the right kind of enjoyment; and every blessing in this life - when you follow God, there is something in it. There is fruit that you can enjoy. Christians are like this, you know - because I grew up in these circles. You know what they used to say: "Well, what is the use of everything. It is all vanity" - That is very famous around our crowd. "It is all vanity brother" What is the use - "Oh you are educated, it is all in vain. It is all vanity" "Oh, you are a big short in your work, Oh it is all a waste. We are going to die one day" So if you are doing a good work, having job and getting promoted or you are earning well: It is all vain, its vanity. It's a vanity, because you are going to die one day. It's all going to make no sense. No, it makes sense. So, I know they would say: "Well, you are doing it, but you know one day you are going to die" Like this fellow says - Ecclesiastes. The problem he has is - the one who is coming after me, will he be wise or will he be a fool; will he be good, will he be bad. So, it is a waste. Let us not do it, because you are going to leave it in somebody else's hand. I am convinced that whoever comes after will be better than me; because God is guiding, God is leading. And that is the way it will be. You see this hopelessness is not in me. I don't find that hopelessness. I don't find myself distressed about what is going to happen if I die. Oh my God, if I die. No, if I die I am going to be in heaven. There is no hopelessness. Why? Because the meaning of life is found.

Now finally, let me just say this and close. Turn with me to Romans Chapter 8. Now the book of Ecclesiastes is never quoted in the New Testament. We don't have any quotes from Ecclesiastes in the New Testament, but there is one word. The key word in Ecclesiastes, which is "meaninglessness" or "vanity" or "frustration" in some translations is used in Romans Chapter 8, I will show you - verse 18: For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. - Even though you don't understand it just listen, I will show it to you. For the creation was subjected to futility (notice that word), the creation was subjected to futilitynot willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.


- You know when man fell into sin. When Adam fell into sin, something happened to all of creation. That is what it is talking about. What was the creation subjected to? The creation was subjected to futility, it says. This is the exact word that in the Old Testament is translated us vanity. In the Tamil, the word ‘maayai'is used which is the translation of vanity. It is what NIV translates as "meaningless". He says the entire creation became meaningless - lost it meaning for its existence. When man sinned and fell into sin, and death entered the world, all of the creation lost its meaning and lost the sense of meaning - it became meaningless; all of creation became meaningless. What a thought.

The Apostle Paul is dealing with this: the whole creation is corrupted. Not only man...human race is corrupted, creation is corrupted. And one day the creation also is going to experience a redemption in the end when everything is going to be perfect; and he is waiting eagerly for that day, he says. That is the passage that talks about it. But look at it - it says creation has been subjected to vanity, literally. The same word is used here.

Now Jesus came into this world, which was subject to vanity - this earth, which was subject to vanity. He lived here, he died and hung on the cross. The bible says, he became a cursed one on thecross. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law. What is the curse of the law? One of the curses of the law is this: that everything has become meaningless. Death has come in. So when he hung there, what was he hanging there for? He was hanging there to get rid of the biggest enemy called "Death". Not only sin, but death must be rid of. He was dealing with sin, shedding his blood, so that our sins maybe washed away, so that we may be saved; but when sin is dealt with then death is also dealt with. That is why Paul says, Oh death where is your sting, where is your victory. Death has been defeated on the cross of Calvary. He died there and on the third day he rose again - giving us hope that the death is defeated. That we don't have to fear death. We can also say to the grave, where is your victory. We can also say to the death, where is your sting. Death does not sting us like it used to - not anymore. Because we are not afraid of death. We understand the meaning of death. Death only takes us to God. And we also will have, enjoyresurrection.

There is going to be a resurrection; when the trumpet shall sound, Jesus will descend with the angels, archangel of God: there would be shout and the dead in Christ will rise again and if we are dead by the time, we will also rise from the grave and receive our new immortal bodies and immortality; where we will die no more. This is the meaning of life. That God has done something through Jesus Christ about sin, because sin has been dealt with, death also has been dealt with. So we have future withoutdeath; we have a future with immortality - we are going to live forever and ever with God in all eternity; and not only that, when we die, there is no distress, there is no anguish there. When we die, the bible says, blessed are those that are dead in Christ, they shall cease from his labour and enter into their rest. And then it says, their works shall go with them. When I work, whatever you are doing in your work - you are working. Why?Because God has appointed you to work. God has made you for work. You are doing work. And your work done by faith in God, but the power of God - with your gifts and abilities of God - that God has put within you, according to the plan and purposes of God. The work that you do in that way, is work that you can carry with you. It will go with you. When you think about it tomorrow morning, you will get dressed quicker; because now I can take my work. My work is not a waste; my labour is not in vain; my life is not wasted. It is not meaningless. I don't just go to work - just to be going to get a salary. No, I go to work because God has made for this work. I work and when I die, I am going to carry my work and the reward for my work will come to me throughout all eternity, I will be receiving the reward for my work and so will you. Amen

How many of you have this hope today? That's meaning of life; that you won't get in any university. That you get only in the bible; you will not get it through philosophy. You get it through here. You won't even get it from work, you will get it here. You get it here and then go work. Your work will become better. You don't go to work and try to look for meaning for life; you come to Christ, you come to God and find Him, and then find meaning for your work.

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