Life is like a hamster running in a wheel. In the end, one hamster gets off and another gets on. We laugh because they are just going in circle. Author of Ecclesiastes describe life in the same way in chapter 1:
One generation passes away, and another generation
comes; But the earth abides forever.
The sun also rises, and the sun goes down, And hastens to the place where it arose.
The wind goes toward the south, And turns around to the north;
That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done,
And there is nothing new under the sun.
Each generation come and go. Just like as one hamster gets off the wheel, another gets on. The earth goes round and round. The sun goes round and round. They never get anywhere because like the hamster wheel, it goes back to where it began. Just like hamsters on a wheel, nothing new is done. What one hamster did is what another hamster will be doing just running in place.
All things are full of labor; Man cannot express it. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, Nor the ear filled with hearing.
Just like a hamster, people keep running because they are not satisfied. They run faster and faster until they are exhausted, yet there is no satisfaction. Is like the Rolling Stones song “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction”
Is there anything of which it may be said, “See, this is new”? It has already been in ancient times before us.
What does it mean there is nothing new under the sun. Certainly new discoveries are made every year. There are new ways of doing things with new technologies that improve productivity. As you look into new discoveries, you realize the natural world has been there the whole time since creation. We are just discovering what was already created long ago. Laws of physics has not change, we just find out what it is. With technology, we just produce more and more good, but in the end, there is no satisfaction in material wealth. America is the most powerful nation on earth. We have tremendous wealth. Yet we have a huge drug and alcohol problem that cannot be solved. We have serious mental problems with depression and suicide. Even the famous Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco, the symbol of America has to have suicide nets installed to discourage people from committing suicide. There are just too many people taking their life on that bridge.
Ultimately, technology and progress cannot give us anything new that is most important to people. It cannot give us new pleasures, no new joy and no new meaning to life. These are intangibles that no progress has yet to solve. The security of family, treasure of friendship, pleasure of courtship and our hope in children has been around since dawn of mankind. It has been the same ever since. There is nothing new under the sun. No science or technology will add new meaning to life.
How is the book of Ecclesiastes hopeful? Christians are to leave the world behind in pursuit of God. The world tells you if you how much you will miss the excitement if you don’t pursuit your dreams. Book of Ecclesiastes tells Christians there is nothing that you missed other than running another round on the hamster wheel. The message is hopeful because God assures you are not missing anything. You are indeed living the most rewarding life possible abiding in him. Work is meaningful only in the context that you are doing it for God. Ecclesiastes 9:7 "Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works." Do the work that God has prescribed for you. You can do no better than that. Anything done without faith in God is meaningless. Ecclesiastes 8:15 "because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun."
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