Sermons by Pastor Walter Snyder plus announcements, articles, videos, and anything else that doesn’t fit Ask the Pastor or the Luther Library.

04 August 2019

Pentecost 8 Sermon: Wisdom, Madness, and Folly

Preached on Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12–14, 17, 2:18–26
8th Sunday After Pentecost — Proper 13C
4 August AD 2019

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of Wisdom, Madness, and Folly.

Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14, 17, 2:18-26 Summary: You can go nuts trying to figure out life. Muster all your wisdom or surrender to free-ranging folly and you’ll finally end up at the same place: Life is ultimately a madhouse unless you live under the Lord’s grace. All paths — save one — lead to death. You may have a good time getting there or it may be a horrible journey but the end will be the same.

If the Lord isn’t your Shepherd leading you through the valley of the shadow of death then Death will be your shepherd leading you into eternal destruction (see Psalm 49:14 ). All is emptiness, despair, madness, and folly unless we follow where our Savior leads.

Along the way, He meets our earthly needs of body and mind as well as our eternal needs of spirit. We can “eat and drink and find enjoyment in [our] toil” because we are redeemed by the One who toiled for us, sacrificing everything, including His life, that we might be free of sin’s curse forevermore.

Note on Continuity: Near the beginning of the sermon, I mentioned unplanned changes to the day’s worship. First, we couldn’t get the sound system to work so we could play hymns since our organist was gone. Then the bell didn’t want to ring. I thought that they helped illustrate part of the text.

We only thought that the illustrating was over, however. You’ll notice about two thirds of the way through the recording that there’s a change in flow and my comment about another unplanned situation. That’s because of an issue during the sermon and the subsequent wait for an ambulance. Thank God that the situation found a happy resolution!

While it interrupted continuity, the incident certainly illustrated how transitory our days can be and how our plans aren’t always God’s.

Text: Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.

I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.

I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me, and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity.... And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind.

So I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labors under the sun, because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity.

There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind. Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14, 17, 2:18-26

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Wisdom, Madness, and Folly.

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 100; Colossians 3:1-11; Luke 12:13–21

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