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“The fundamental error of the sons of men, which lies behind all their departures from God, is that they are like their first parents, hoping to be as gods, by entertaining themselves with what seems good for food, pleasant to the eyes, and desirable to make one wise. The purpose of Ecclesiastes is to lay low the pride of man and direct us to fear God and keep His commandments.”

Beware of a lust for novelty (Eccl. 1:1-11)

“The ‘preacher’ of Ecclesiastes, writing from his own painful experience, seeks to expose all of the foolish notions that men treasure which cause them to seek satisfaction and fulfillment in their own works and wisdom. He has been the consummate hedonist, plumbing the depths of every means by which man has sought self-fulfillment and personal happiness, and he has found them all to be of the same substance: vanity of vanities-nothingness of nothingness! He thus begins this inspired book with an emphatic declaration of the vanity, or emptiness, of all that men do and compares the fleeting nature of men’s works with the constancy of the works of God.

Yet men are not satisfied with the testimony of God in what they see and hear. Thus, after recounting the glorious works of God which are everywhere evident in the world that He made and governs, he laments in verse 8, ‘The eye is not satisfied with seeing, Nor the ear filled with hearing.’

Man’s most basic problem is his dissatisfaction with what God has provided, and his lust to fulfill himself in some other way. The heart of fallen man burns with a lust for novelty, and like the foolish philosophers of Athens they ‘spend their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing.’ This restlessness in the heart of man is the result of sinful pride. Instead of resting content in God’s word and works, fallen man fashions himself as a great designer, whose brilliant inventions earn him a name and make him worthy of praise in the eyes of his fellow men.

Nowhere is this disenchantment with God’s provision and insatiable quest for novelty more central than in his approach to worship. This has always been the very nature of idolatry- from Cain’s offering to Babel’s tower, from Aaron’s golden calf to Nadab and Abihu’s strange fire, from Jeroboam’s high places to the Pharisee’s human traditions and the modern church’s obsession with creative will-worship-men have sought to fulfill themselves in worship through finding some new thing under the sun.

The lust for novelty in religious experiences is nothing more or less than the desire to make God in our own image, and therefore to be God. To unmask the folly of this lust for novelty, the Preacher of Ecclesiastes declares, ‘there is nothing new under the sun.’

Away with the unquenchable fascination with new-and-improved experiences in worship! It is nothing but the gratifying of the hidden idolatry of the heart. Matthew Henry explains, ‘We are apt to nauseate old things, and to grow weary of what we have long been used to, as Israel of the manna.’ Yet God’s Word rebukes our native restlessness: ‘Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk in it.’ Let us not be like Israel, who forsook the ‘old paths’ for the pursuit of ‘something new.’ The inventions of men will not be remembered, but the Word of the Lord stands forever.” (Comin, 203-204)

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