“Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.” Ecclesiastes 1:2 ESV
What hope does the Christian have in this world? The quick answer is none. Read the first question carefully. The Christian does have hope, but it is not in this world or of this world. After examining the things of life, it won’t take long for the Christian to realize that “All is vanity”.
The old phrase “Everybody is going through something” may not be derived from Holy Scripture, but it does have application to the believer and non-believer. While interacting among others, it won’t take you long to hear about the heartaches of cancer, sickness, death, and pain. Life is hard.
We are told by many people that we simply need to have a better outlook on life and be more optimistic. There are many self-help programs and motivational speakers that try to promote the idea of creating a “better you”. The world attempts to convince humanity to live your best life now. What does the Preacher of Ecclesiastes say about this world and this life? “All is vanity”. A good definition of vanity is the quality of being useless. That is exactly what this world has to offer you. All is vanity. If your hope is in self-improvement or get-better programs you’re going to be in trouble because “All is Vanity”.
This world (apart from Christ), is hopeless because of the fall of man and the sin that remains in this world. Truthfully, apart from Christ you are Hopeless. Although this may not sound like the most encouraging devotional, this is the Harsh Truth.
“The Hebrew term hebel, translated vanity or vain, refers concretely to a “mist,” “vapor,” or “mere breath,” and metaphorically to something that is fleeting or elusive (with different nuances depending on the context). It appears five times in this verse and in 29 other verses in Ecclesiastes”. Hebel is the key term to this book.
The Preacher of this verse is teaching that everything in this life is to be considered as temporary. The Preacher of Ecclesiastes asks many rhetorical questions and makes many indicative statements after verse 2 to prove his point. Life should be viewed as only a vapor. Life should be viewed as only a mere breath. Life should be viewed as a mist. The NIV translates the word hebel as “meaningless.” Still doesn’t sound very encouraging does it? Just hold on.
How should the Christian view life if “All is Vanity”? The Christian needs to acknowledge that the world offers no benefit to their soul. The world has been corrupted by the effects of sin. The nations are raging against one another (Psalm 2). All is Vanity! All is meaningless.
How then is the Christian to make it in this life?
Is the Christian supposed to live with such a pessimistic view of life?
What hope can anyone have if all is vanity?
Apart from Christ there is no hope in this life. Apart from Christ we are damned to hell because of the sin that separates us from God. With Christ we have a supernatural hope. Our hope is not in the affairs of the world, but rather in the hope that we will dwell with the Lord eternally if we have been converted. Our hope is not in the hebel of life, but rather in the one who came to give life more abundantly. Our hope cannot be in the flesh, but rather it is in the one who took on flesh and died for sinners, in order that we might become the righteousness of God. Left to yourself, you have no hope. With Christ you have a transcendent Hope.
Trust in him today.
He’s your only hope.