Ecclesiastes 1:2-3 // Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?

What a desperate and exasperated cry from the heart of the man sitting upon the pinnacle peak of worldly gain! Here is a man that is on the highest summit. He has every attainment known to man at the disposal of his fingertips. He is a man without barriers or hindrances. He comes and goes as he pleases, and the world is to him an unending buffet of temporal indulgences. Yet he appears to have recently received a crushing epiphany that has utterly altered the way in which he assesses his own life’s work and status. “Vanity,” he says. “All is vanity.” 

It is a great mercy of God when worldly success is exposed for what it truly is, temporal and fleeting. It is a mercy because this is not how the world first appears to our natural eye. Apart from the Spirit's work, we see the world as glittering with promises, offering hope and comfort to our weary and insecure souls. We long for relief from the brokenness of our fallen existence and are easily persuaded to believe that creation and created things hold the ultimate answers. And so, like Solomon, we fix our gaze upon those things which are “under the sun,” and with frenzied energy, we set about toiling with all our might to gain that which has charmed us most.

But wisdom cries out from “the Preacher” who had it all. True and lasting profit is unattainable in created things. Eventually, everyone loses everything. And so blessed is the man who discovers the shocking truth that all earthly gain will vanish like a mirage at the end of our lives. It is then, and only then, that he will begin to look for a gain that is “beyond the sun.” And if he seeks with the eye of faith, he will discover a Treasure whose worth far surpasses the value of the entire world combined!