Dan Henry - Ecclesiastes - Boring, Oregon - 2003

Ecclesiastes 1:1, the words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. "Vanity of vanities," saith the Preacher, "Vanity of vanities; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever. The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose. The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits. All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again. All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, 'See, this is new?' It hath been already of old time, which was before us. There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after. (verse 13) And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith. I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit."

In 1983, my companion and I hiked four hours until we were wet with sweat, over the backside of the mountains in Haiti to the place where Orin Taylor and Charles Lachner had gone when they first brought the gospel to Haiti in 1971. Orin was on the back of a mule and he had heart trouble. Sometimes he would fall and sometimes he would pass out in meeting. We made that trip to that same spot and there a voodoo priest had come to the end of his rope realizing that he had no power and nothing to offer when his own sixteen-year-old daughter died. He listened to the gospel and professed. Over the years, because of the conditions in Haiti, circumstances and workers in scattered fields, that poor man was left alone far too long. It was not the fault of anyone. In 1983, we returned. As we went we entered the yard with the little hut under the mango trees, I heard the noise of a corn grinder, an old antique corn grinder. There was a young boy turning the grinder. Then again because of circumstances and workers being scattered, and military coups, it was years before we got back their again in 1996. My companion and I climbed that same mountain and walked back into that same area and into that same yard. Even before we arrived at the hut we heard the sound of the corn grinder.. It was the same antique corn grinder but it was a new boy. A new generation was turning the grinder. Ground corn was coming out of it. This is what Solomon was seeing. He called himself a preacher. He was seeing the rivers go round and round. The rivers go down and in the process of evaporation the water comes back and the rivers go down again. Probably few in his day realized it, but he could see things going round and round. Everything was going round and round. The thought came in his mind, "What are we getting out of this?" He said, "Life is vexation of spirit and all is vanity. Vexation of spirit is the pursuit of wind, just chasing the wind." Trying to get something out of this life materially is just vanity and vexation of spirit. Trying to get something that is going to be yours for ever is just vexation. That is what Solomon was seeing in all of this. What are you looking for? What are you trying to get out of life as it ticks by hour by hour and day by day? And what is God trying to get out of your life? What is He looking for? God is waiting and He is hoping.

On the mountainside, the rotation of the mill gave ground corn. God is holding His hand at the mouth of the little mill of your life. Jesus is interceding day and night. This is so earnest. This is so important. God is hoping that your soul can be saved and that is not vanity. Do you realize that that is the only thing about life that is not vanity and pursuit of wind? For that reason God's servants are giving their lives, the light has shown, and it has dawned on them that souls can be saved and they can go again, and again. All that is in this world will all pass away, it is all vanity, but your soul can be saved for eternity and be for ever alive. You can be happy and joyful, bowing before the God of heaven. For that reason I love what Solomon was saying in the book of Ecclesiastes. I don't know for sure but I think that Solomon was writing the book of Ecclesiastes in his last days. Apparently in these chapters he was looking back over his life. It is like a man who is walking down the corridors of his days and he is thinking and he is questioning. There are 31 profound questions that Solomon asks in this book. He is looking back over time and asking these questions. If you feel that Solomon is forever lost, maybe it is true but maybe it is not true. The Bible doesn't actually say. But this is one thing that I could actually hope for and it gives us hope this afternoon, to see what he learned and we could learn with him to. If I say something about Solomon in this meeting or any other, I just hate to point out fault. I don't like to talk about people's mistakes, I can honestly say that. But you know, I have learned from life to learn from other peoples mistakes. If this is true, education is expensive. Children in our field, many of them never get to go to school. Maybe they go for a year then stay home for a year until dad and mom get more money. Some of them over 23 and 24 years old and still freshman in high school, still trying. They get up in the morning at five o'clock and study, memorizing, memorizing, memorizing. When it is all done, what do you do with it? Education, they cherish it and it is expensive. In that sense, we are learning from another man's mistakes, he paid the price of my education, and I am a debtor to that person. I know that for myself, everything that is right and perfect is there, but I don't learn it. When I see the fault, when I see the failure, when I see the cost, when I see the tears, it wakes me. For that reason and only for that reason, could we ever speak about the fault and failure of another man.

Look at this in chapter two, as we go into what Solomon was thinking and saying. 2:3, "I sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine, yet acquainting mine heart with wisdom; and to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was that good for the sons of men, which they should do under the heaven all the days of their life. I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards: I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits: I made me pools of water, to water therewith the wood that bringeth forth trees: I got me servants and maidens, and had servants born in my house; also I had great possessions of great and small cattle above all that were in Jerusalem before me: I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces: I gat me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts. So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me. And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour." Then this next verse, 17, goes with that and it will always go with that, "Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me: for all is vanity and vexation of spirit." "Therefore, I hated life." The recipe for depression, and for hating life is to live for yourself. The recipe for true joy, we see in Jesus. From cradle to grave is to forget yourself and live for others, to live for God, to live for eternity. Live for yourself, I got me, I builded me, I acquired for me, live for yourself and this is what you get, I hated life. It doesn't have to be that way. As I stand before you today, I can say with all my heart, "I love life."

t is a privilege to come to the West for the first time. I thought while I was in Washington, that I could see someone that I have tried to keep up with, because we have had things in common. That is Bill Gates. Bill Gates and I are the same age. Another thing in common is that he is the richest man in the world and I am the poorest. But what makes for joy in life? You see what happened to Solomon, and it could happen to us. It is how we live and what we are living for. What didn't Solomon do, while he was building gardens? He was a champion at horticulture, that is something that I could love. He was building temples and altars, he was a champion of architecture, and that is something that I could love. He wrote 1005 Proverbs. He was a master at education. He was a master of music, he wrote 3000 songs. He was a master like no other. He had an army. He was the commander in chief in Israel. He had a standing army that he had inherited from his father, David, of 1,300,000 swordsman. The United States has an armed force of 1,444,000. That little nation of Israel, back then had almost as large an army, and Solomon was commander-in-chief. You could see that Solomon was busy, but there was something else. He married someone who could never help him. He married the Princess, the most beautiful girl in Egypt, but she had nothing to help his soul. He wrote about this himself later. He just went from one to the next until eventually he had 1000 wives. I think you could say that he did not love one of them. And I think you could safely say that there was not one of them that loved him. That kind of thing is impossible, because God has a plan and in God's plan a man will leave his mother and father and the two become one. There are two kinds of human love, the kind of love that a mother has for her children, she might have 12 children, and she might love to of all equally. That is the way that it should be. I would not want my mother to love me more than any of my brothers or my sister. The other kind of love is only for one, if it is for more than one it is unfaithful, it is untrue. For that reason God has chosen one faithful bride. One church. Men don't like to hear that, they contradict that, but it can't be any other way. We are thankful to see young people in our field that before they heard the Gospel they loved the world, they were free, they went, and they danced. They loved the world because they did not know Jesus, but now that they know Jesus that is in the past. They are not double hearted they are not double minded. It is one love, and we did not have to say anything, it is just there, pulling with us, laboring with us, just one love.

Now back to this, what Solomon was doing. He was building, he was planning. It is all interesting, and it is all right, and it is good. But what happened? Most likely what happens to all of us. He did not have time to pray. That is the beginning of hollowness. He was mightier than anyone before him. He said that himself. This was not brought on by financial loss. His kingdom did not collapse. He told in one place about how many people sat at his table. The temple did not fall. It was strong and solid on the mountainside. It was all there, but the inside of him was a complete collapse. He could not face another day. Why? Because of something that we all have done. I remember riding with my father one Sunday morning, we were going out to feed cattle. I will never forget the spot, just before we turned the corner. I said to my dad, "I have decided that I am going to be a brain surgeon." Dad did not say anything for a minute then he said, "Son, I know that they are telling you to hitch your wagon to a star. But remember that the things that you do in life can take up so much time that you will not have time to read and to pray, and to be in meeting and you could lose your soul." I didn't say another thing about it. Dad had the cash, I could have done it. Now, let me make this clear, there are good brain surgeons, and I believe that a man could profess and be a good brain surgeon, I believe that. But with me there is no halfway, it has to be all. That is just what I have done. I could have lost my soul, and I may have saved it in the balance. This is for eternity, it is no play. I thank my dad to this very day for the thought that he sewed in my mind, as we went to feed the cattle. There is nothing more important in life to me than to save my soul.

So there was Solomon, a total success. He is the richest, he is the best, the most intelligent, and like he said, and yet my wisdom stayed with me. He was not losing his mind. It was not for that that he hated life. It was just that it was so empty. It was just vanity. Who would he leave it to? Would I leave it to a wise man or a fool? The insecurity of the future, and this man was walking down the hall of time and questioning what would it be. He hated life. Look how this could be so different. We are so fortunate, we have Jesus teachings. We have exactly what Jesus said. If we followed Jesus teachings this will never happen to us in life. You will never have to come to that point. It is simple, it is there, it is not complicated. Go back to Matthew five, six, and seven and the parables. In our fields, we teach these things again and again in our meetings on the mountain side and in the little homes. And we tell them to learn to pray, not only learn to pray, but to pray. We have learned through the years that if people learn to pray, they will go all the way. If you don't learn to pray, you will fall by the way. Learn to pray and it will be roots. When the sun shines there will be roots and when there is drought there will be roots and when there is persecution there will be roots. Jesus said to learn to pray and pray. Jesus said that if a man learns these things and does them, he will be like a wise man He will be like a man who dug deep and built his house up on a rock that when the storms came and the rains came down the house stood. If you hear these things and don't do them, you are like a fool, who built his house up on the sand when the storms came and the wind blew the house fell and great was the fall of it. The man that built upon the sand heard the sayings but he didn't do them. Solomon was there, he heard, but he didn't do it. He was not praying. What we're going to dig down to are the basics, the two and two ministry, the meeting in the home. Those are the most fundamental things. That is beautiful, almost 2000 years after Jesus lived and His disciples walked beside Him, leaving all and becoming poor and going out to preach the gospel, freely giving their lives. That is the New Testament church in its purest form. But that, fundamental as it is, is not what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 5, 6, and 7. He had not even chosen His apostles nor sent them out at that time. There had not been a Sunday morning meeting in the home with the emblems. The foundation, the rock, is the teaching of how to give, how to pray, how to fast, how to love, how to forgive. This is the rock, and we need to get down on it. Come what may, the rains, the storms, persecutions, our Faith will stand. People who serve God in secret will stand. Sometimes when there is a problem in the home, a fight breaks out, what do you do? You call the workers, and they are happy to come. But it would be different, if you had been standing on the rock. If there was a harsh spirit, if there un- faithfulness, there should be forgiveness. Jesus taught that no matter the cost, there should be forgiveness. Just turn the other cheek, cost me what it costs me. Regardless of being badly treated and persecuted, there should be forgiveness and the words of grace. If we build on the rock the house will not fall, there will not be a collapse and the marriage will stand in the children will be protected.

I saw hurricane Hugo hit the island of Guadalupe. It was exactly like an atomic bomb had hit the island. In the center of that was a little wooden batch and inside of that batch were two lovely sister workers, native to our islands. My companion and I took the first plane that went to Guadalupe after the catastrophe. We arrived at the airport and walked in water above our ankles. We rented a car and made a circle of the friends home's. We sat in the living room of one man's home. The roof was gone. The batch was the last place we went, and the batch was destroyed. The sisters were staying in a neighbor's little outhouse kitchen. The next morning we helped them. They stood in the midst of the ruin, and I thought, "What is this?"  I had known these young ladies and they were so in command, so capable, but it was like they were dazed. They were shocked, and they were not thinking right. I realized that this storm and the effect of this storm can affect you spiritually. It can leave you in shock, and that is why we need to stand on the rock. You do not have to be without a sound mind. If we pray, if we do as Jesus did, go into a room and close the door and God who is in secret will reward you openly. You will not collapse, you will be strong in Jesus Christ.

Solomon could see that and that's just what he was facing, he was dealing with that. In chapter four Solomon said, "So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter." Solomon was turning, and I like to think of him turning. He turned and turning is repenting. I have no solid evidence that Solomon repented but these verses indicate something. He was turning, he was no longer looking at the beautiful things that his hands created. He was looking at the oppressed, at the down hearted, he was looking at the weary, he was looking at the bruised that had no comforter. Do you know, this was the beginning of better days. When our hearts are turned from materialism toward the plight of our neighbor, our brother, it is the beginning of better days. It is the beginning of joy. The more we love as Jesus loved, the more our lives become fruitful and joyful. The more we live for others, the more we live and truly live. Solomon was turning for the first time. He was looking at the down cast and the oppressed. In our country I have heard sayings since I came home, and economically I might agree. We don't live according to the intelligence of this world, we are living toward the intelligence of another world, where souls are saved. You know, years ago there was a gift from France, and it stands in the harbor of New York City. It is the statue of a lady who has her hands outstretched with a light of hope and on the foot of that it says, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses." Do we feel that? Are we closing doors with a feeling of national superiority, saying this country is mine? Is it ours? Is there any place in this world that is ours? Are you living for this country? I love my country, but aren't we living for an other country? Abraham declared plainly that he was seeking a better country. Could it be that some poor, homeless person that God moved in next door to my house, would you have it in your heart, would you have oil and wine to pour in? Something that would be the foundation for that poor person's soul? If that could be eternal gain, if we as a people could become more compassionate, pure hearted, a more sharing people, our convention would be a total success. If our hearts would burn towards those that have no comforter, weary, tired, beaten, and it is not their fault. I hope that my heart would be so. I love people. I love the people in the land where I work, though they be despised and the bottom of the social rung. I love them to the end of time. There is something that brings the deepest, deepest joy in living for others. Solomon was on the right track.

There was an older brother worker that told me that he and his companion were going down a road and they were lost. He saw a young lady standing beside the road and they stopped, thinking maybe she could help them. He said to her, "Can you tell us how to get there?" She said, "I can tell you how to get there but you are headed the wrong way, so I can't tell you that way but if you will go down there and turnaround and come back headed in the right direction, and I can tell you." That's exactly what Solomon did, he said, "I returned." He had been headed down the wrong road, the road of materialism. He had had every kind of success, but at the end of that road he found deception and vanity, and now he was turning. May God help us that it may not be too late for us also and that we could live for what is worth living for all eternity. Solomon suffered because his wives turned his heart to worship strange God's and that angered the Lord. You know why it would anger God? It is the most aggravating thing. How could you worship, a piece of wood or gold, that isn't living? Every living thing speaks of God's existence. A single flower speaks of His design and it is hand painted. All of the abundance, of God's handiwork, from the smallest, and tiniest thing to the vastness of the universe is all of God's handiwork, there is no question. Like David said, "Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath He set a tabernacle for the sun, which is as a bridegroom coming out of His chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and His circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof." In every language it speaks the Gospel of creation and its creator, and it speaks day and night, it never stops. There is no reason not to believe in the creator. And for that reason, God was angry with Solomon because he stooped to worship a false God, false religion. Do you know where that led Solomon? This materialistic point of view, let him to hate life. It led him to a place where he didn't know straight up from straight down. In chapter 3:21 it says, "Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?" He was totally confused, he was totally in darkness. That's where that leads, if there ever comes the day that we leave the simplicity of the truth of Christ. If we think that there are other books that we need to read or anything on the Internet that you need to read or anything in these libraries that you need to read, it will only leave you in that topsy-turvy upside down condition where you will not know up from down. You wouldn't know if the soul goes up or the soul goes down.

Fortunately God did not leave Solomon there, chapter 12:7, "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it." It was clear to Solomon that the spirit goes back to God who gave it. Some would say, "How could Solomon have any hope, if he went that far?" Jesus said that there was only one unpardonable sin and that is blasphemy. I don't see where Solomon blasphemed. It could be that it would seem almost impossible, because there are these verses that are sometimes pointed out in Hebrews six. "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned." These verses say that it is impossible for someone who has tasted of powers of the world to come, tasted of that life, to reject Him; it is impossible to renew him again. But then it goes on to speak about something else. It says that he is nigh to be cursed, he is near to it, and it is dangerous. He has turned his back on Jesus, he has denied Him. We heard about Peter denying Christ. It is dangerous. Again. It says to be burned, that is speaking about the soil. It is like bad ground and its end is to be burned. This verse does not say that it is impossible with God. It is impossible with man. What more could He do? His hands are open. All things are possible with God. This is a season and we go through the seasons. Solomon had gone through a long dry season, and his life had produced many things that were admired by man, but it was thorns and thistles that choked out the spirit. That's what Jesus said, the cares of life, the deceitfulness of riches, the thorns and thistles that will choke out that new life of being born again. For that reason, what can you do? There are new seasons, God gives new seasons. Again, rivers go down and water goes up, the sun goes down, the sun comes up. It is revolving, time and again, that is what Solomon said, time and chance happen to them all. The race is not to the swift. You know, it happens time and again. We heard in another convention, don't take chances with your second chance. This is another chance. This is another convention. God is seeking to deal with us. It is another season. We saw this in Haiti, up on the mountainside. Where there are so many microbes and nematodes in the soil, the only way in that rich good soil to have a crop is to burn it, otherwise there are too many weeds and to many bugs. The corn will come up and be looking strong then it weakens. But if you burn it, it will then produce a crop. That is what these verses are speaking about; it is nigh unto being burned. These things could just be taken away; they could just die, the cares of life, the deceitfulness of riches. So that that little life could grow and prosper within us. What Solomon was looking at now was not his work. I love that. You can see that in more than one verse. In chapter 7:13, "Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which He hath made crooked?"

nd again in chapter 8:17, "Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea farther; though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it." And again in Chapter 11:5, "As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all." Now we can see that Solomon's thoughts were turning from himself and he is thinking about the work of God. He says that you can't find it out; it is so marvelous, so perfect. It is like the wind that blows. What does that sound like to you? That sounds like Jesus speaking about someone being born again, and the work of the Holy Spirit. You can see the effect of it; you know that there is a work going on. Was Solomon wanting to be born again? I don't know. But this much we do know, that he was thinking again about the work of God.

There was a man who was one of my best friends; he came to see us in Haiti, more than once. He was from Canada. He was a builder, the number one builder in Canada. He came in his own plane with his pilot. I happen to know the prime minister's nephew who is a pilot. He is not professing, but we took him to the national Hotel and to the palace with us. Then we went out into the boondocks, into the secluded areas, into the little homes, where we sat with our feet dangling over the edge of the bed. There were dirt floors. We visited late into the night. The candle was put out. And I saw that my friend loves the work that God has given us to do more than all that he has accomplished at home. Do you realize that, that is what Solomon was looking at, the work of God? We went to the airport when it was time to go home, and the pilot was bragging about where all he had been. Warren did not pay any attention, but as the time came for him to get in, he just balled, he cried and sobbed and said, "Boys, I'll be back to see you." His professional pilot was looking at his boss. Trying to figure this out. There was something between us, and this work, in this family that he could not understand. The work of eternity, the work of Christ, the Gospel, like Solomon said. You can't tell the beginning from the end. A few years ago Warren thought he had a cold, he was not feeling good, and he could not get over it on going to the doctor. He found that he had aggressive leukemia, and in just a couple of days he was gone. His last words were, he took off his ring, and gave it to his wife, and he said, "Until eternity." Do you realize that there is something that we live for that gives us peace? When we were sitting out in one of those little huts in Haiti, he told me about his children and that there was a time in his life when he just got too busy and stopped professing. He said, "It was the worst time in my life, but God helped me. Now I talk to my children and sometimes they will say, 'Dad you are preaching?' I talk to them anyway." I saw those boys this time on my home visit, and they were telling me what their dad used to say. My friends, if you have children don't be afraid to say, like my dad, with grace and wisdom, say it. That is what a preacher is, he had something to say and he said it.

olomon was the wisest man that ever lived, and now he was coming to the end of his life and he was saying it, "Don't take this trail, there is another way." God help us that we also could be wise in this. Grasp the opportunities to serve wherever we can serve. Pour in a little oil and wine with all your heart that it might be treasure laid in heaven where moth and rust will never corrupt and it will be treasure for all eternity. May God help us that this would be our portion.