Nothing New Under the Sun

April 4, 2012 at 9:45 am | Posted in Common Expressions, Ecclesiastes | 57 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The common expression, “there’s nothing new under the sun,” is from the Bible.

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.

Ecclesiastes 1:9

When God spoke the universe into existence, He created all the “matter” that exists today. Scientists have been able to discover that matter is made up of molecules. It’s kind of strange to think about, but these molecules have been around for a long time. The molecules that make up the water you drink today might be some of the same molecules that made up the water that Julius Caesar drank over 2000 years ago. Some of the cells in your body might be made up of some the same material that used to make up King Solomon’s body.

There is a joke about a group of scientists who came to God and said, “Well, God, we don’t need You any more – we can finally do what You can do. We can ‘create.’ We have invented a machine that can create anything we want. All we have to do is add dirt-”

“Hold on a minute,” said God. “Go get your own dirt.”

You are breathing air right now, and scientists have discovered a great deal about that air. They understand the elements that make it up and the way it behaves under certain circumstances. But no scientist provided the air you are breathing right now. You are breathing God’s air. He created it and He provides it, and He deserves the credit and the thanks for it. If He decides that your next breath is your last one, no scientist will be able to prevent that. There have been great advances in the field of cardiology, but your heart is not beating right now because a cardiologist created your heart or gave it the ability to pump blood. Your heart is beating under the power and supervision and control of God, and it had better be beating to His glory. He could stop it in an instant.

“Life is vanity” was the perspective of Solomon “under the sun.” “Vanity” is a key concept in Ecclesiastes. It is sometimes defined as “emptiness” or “vapor.” It is something that is insubstantial although it is still noticeable, like “wind.” In our day it is sometimes linked with the idea of arrogance or pride. We say that somebody who is “vain” is “stuck up,” or somebody who thinks she’s “all that,” with the implication being that she’s really nothing. There was a popular song by Carly Simon when I was a kid called “You’re So Vain” that exemplified this idea. Vanity can be something that causes a lot of consternation, but doesn’t amount to anything. One commentator on the Book of Ecclesiastes defined vanity as “what’s left after you pop a soap bubble.”

According to the “under the sun” viewpoint of King Solomon:

1. Life is vain because of its monotony. (Referring to the ordinary repetitiveness of life, not the board game where you collect $200 for passing “go.”)

Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.

Ecclesiastes 1:10

How many days in your life do you really remember in detail? Probably a small percentage. You probably remember your wedding day, the days your children were born, the day you hit a game-winning home run, but overall you only remember a small percentage of the days of your life, because so many of them are so much alike. Even fewer are the days of your life which stand out in the memory of other people. However, we do remember some “historical” dates – dates on which famous people did important things. This is one reason why man – even man “under the sun” – is different from the beasts. We have personal histories.

Ecclesiastes reminds us that, although we are part of a “life cycle,” the life cycle always ends in death. They say that the only two things that are certain in life are death and taxes. [I would add two others: (1) If I leave my car windows down in a parking lot, it will rain before I get back; (2) If I change from a slow-moving lane of traffic into a faster-moving lane, the cars in front of me in that lane will immediately stop.]

The Lord Jesus miraculously broke into the “life cycle” of this planet – and into human history. He made it so that resurrection is possible. Life doesn’t have to end in death. You can be “born again.” Your life was put in motion with your first birth, but with a new birth you can start over – with a new destination.

According to Ecclesiastes, “under the sun:”

2. Life is vain because of the limits of wisdom.

Solomon was the wisest man in the world, but he could not equal God’s wisdom. In fact, Solomon’s wisdom was even God-given. The human race has been around for about 6000 years, and it is questionable whether we have really come up with any real solutions to any real problems – at least without a willingness to create even more problems. We desperately need God’s wisdom.

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  1. […] of lords. He is the Possessor not only of this Throne, but of all of Heaven and of Earth – of all creation. This is a King who once appeared Himself before the judgment seat of men. Pontius Pilate sat on a […]

  2. […] Solomon was looking at life from an earthly, temporal point of view, and he came to these […]

  3. […] myself is high-handed pride. The word “vaunting” is from the same origin as the word “vanity:” something which looks substantial, but is really lacking in substance. Vanity is emptiness […]

  4. […] In Ecclesiastes Chapter 4 Solomon moved from looking at the natural order of life and things in nature, and he began to look at man’s institutions to see if there is anything man has organized under the sun that is not vanity. […]

  5. […] Ecclesiastes 1:9 […]

  6. […] is the “last enemy” from the perspective of “under the sun,” but one day Christ Jesus will put all things under His […]

  7. […] of the writer of Ecclesiastes: That this earthly life (life “under the sun“) is just vanity? Is the best we can hope for just a little temporary pleasure between the pains? If so, the problem […]

  8. […] of the writer of Ecclesiastes: That this earthly life (life “under the sun“) is just vanity? Is the best we can hope for just a little temporary pleasure between the pains? If so, the problem […]

  9. […] Who can be for me – what I have never been able to grasp. There must be Someone who can fill the vanity – the emptiness – that I’m left with – that is inside my very […]

  10. […] Contextual Wisdom 2. Nothing New under the Sun 3. Darkness under the Sun 4. Break It Up! 5. Right Where You’re Supposed to Be 6. Do Birds […]

  11. […] Nothing New Under the Sun […]

  12. I wish more agnostics would take time to read the whole Book of Ecclesiastes. They make realize there are at the end of their own road like Kerry Livgren did.

  13. […] In Ecclesiastes Chapter 4 Solomon moved from looking at the natural order of life and things in nature, and he began to look at man’s institutions to see if there is anything man has organized under the sun that is not vanity. […]

  14. […] Solomon was looking at life from an earthly, temporal point of view, and he came to these […]

  15. […] Contextual Wisdom 2. Nothing New under the Sun 3. Darkness under the Sun 4. Break It Up! 5. Right Where You’re Supposed to Be 6. Do Birds Sing […]

  16. […] Solomon was looking at life from an earthly, temporal point of view, and he came to these […]

  17. […] feelings of the writer of Ecclesiastes: That this earthly life (life “under the sun“) is just vanity? Is the best we can hope for just a little temporary pleasure between the pains? If so, the problem […]

  18. […] Solomon was looking at life from an earthly, temporal point of view, and he came to these […]

  19. […] modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair […]

  20. […] Many modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair that Solomon speaks of in Ecclesiastes.  Christian scholar Ravi Zacharias has noted, “The key to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes is the term ‘under the sun.’ What that literally means is you lock God out of a closed system, and you are left with only this world of time plus chance plus matter.” THIS IS EXACT POINT SCHAEFFER SAYS SECULAR ARTISTS ARE PAINTING FROM TODAY BECAUSE THEY BELIEVED ARE A RESULT OF MINDLESS CHANCE. […]

  21. […] Many modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair that Solomon speaks of in Ecclesiastes.  Christian scholar Ravi Zacharias has noted, “The key to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes is the term ‘under the sun.’ What that literally means is you lock God out of a closed system, and you are left with only this world of time plus chance plus matter.” THIS IS EXACT POINT SCHAEFFER SAYS SECULAR ARTISTS ARE PAINTING FROM TODAY BECAUSE THEY BELIEVED ARE A RESULT OF MINDLESS CHANCE. […]

  22. […] Many modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair that Solomon speaks of in Ecclesiastes.  Christian scholar Ravi Zacharias has noted, “The key to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes is the term ‘under the sun.’ What that literally means is you lock God out of a closed system, and you are left with only this world of time plus chance plus matter.” THIS IS EXACT POINT SCHAEFFER SAYS SECULAR ARTISTS ARE PAINTING FROM TODAY BECAUSE THEY BELIEVED ARE A RESULT OF MINDLESS CHANCE. Why else would Tony Oursler name his art video in 1984 EVOL? […]

  23. […] Many modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair that Solomon speaks of in Ecclesiastes.  Christian scholar Ravi Zacharias has noted, “The key to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes is the term ‘under the sun.’ What that literally means is you lock God out of a closed system, and you are left with only this world of time plus chance plus matter.” THIS IS EXACT POINT SCHAEFFER SAYS SECULAR ARTISTS ARE PAINTING FROM TODAY BECAUSE THEY BELIEVED ARE A RESULT OF MINDLESS CHANCE. Why else would Tony Oursler name his art video in 1984 EVOL? I know that I am repeating myself but the point is so strong it bears repeating. When I read this about Tony Oursler and his words, “This is a spirit trumpet and it is used to listen to spirits. My characters tend to exist in existential places, somewhat tortured, struggling and I suppose I struggle through the work and through the world to various understandings…” then I thought about the mannishness of man and Francis Schaeffer’s closing statement in the film HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE? which you will find below. It seems Tony is struggling to hear “the spirits” and that his characters are somewhat tortured for the reason that they have not found their proper God-given place in this world: […]

  24. […] Many modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair that Solomon speaks of in Ecclesiastes.  Christian scholar Ravi Zacharias has noted, “The key to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes is the term ‘under the sun.’ What that literally means is you lock God out of a closed system, and you are left with only this world of time plus chance plus matter.” THIS IS EXACT POINT SCHAEFFER SAYS SECULAR ARTISTS ARE PAINTING FROM TODAY BECAUSE THEY BELIEVED ARE A RESULT OF MINDLESS CHANCE. […]

  25. […] Many modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair that Solomon speaks of in Ecclesiastes.  Christian scholar Ravi Zacharias has noted, “The key to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes is the term ‘under the sun.’ What that literally means is you lock God out of a closed system, and you are left with only this world of time plus chance plus matter.” THIS IS EXACT POINT SCHAEFFER SAYS SECULAR ARTISTS ARE PAINTING FROM TODAY BECAUSE THEY BELIEVED ARE A RESULT OF MINDLESS CHANCE. […]

  26. […] Many modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair that Solomon speaks of in Ecclesiastes.  Christian scholar Ravi Zacharias has noted, “The key to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes is the term ‘under the sun.’ What that literally means is you lock God out of a closed system, and you are left with only this world of time plus chance plus matter.” THIS IS EXACT POINT SCHAEFFER SAYS SECULAR ARTISTS ARE PAINTING FROM TODAY BECAUSE THEY BELIEVED ARE A RESULT OF MINDLESS CHANCE. […]

  27. […] Many modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair that Solomon speaks of in Ecclesiastes.  Christian scholar Ravi Zacharias has noted, “The key to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes is the term ‘under the sun.’ What that literally means is you lock God out of a closed system, and you are left with only this world of time plus chance plus matter.” THIS IS EXACT POINT SCHAEFFER SAYS SECULAR ARTISTS ARE PAINTING FROM TODAY BECAUSE THEY BELIEVED ARE A RESULT OF MINDLESS CHANCE. […]

  28. […] Many modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair that Solomon speaks of in Ecclesiastes.  Christian scholar Ravi Zacharias has noted, “The key to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes is the term ‘under the sun.’ What that literally means is you lock God out of a closed system, and you are left with only this world of time plus chance plus matter.” THIS IS EXACT POINT SCHAEFFER SAYS SECULAR ARTISTS ARE PAINTING FROM TODAY BECAUSE THEY BELIEVED ARE A RESULT OF MINDLESS CHANCE. […]

  29. […] Many modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair that Solomon speaks of in Ecclesiastes.  Christian scholar Ravi Zacharias has noted, “The key to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes is the term ‘under the sun.’ What that literally means is you lock God out of a closed system, and you are left with only this world of time plus chance plus matter.” THIS IS EXACT POINT SCHAEFFER SAYS SECULAR ARTISTS ARE PAINTING FROM TODAY BECAUSE THEY BELIEVED ARE A RESULT OF MINDLESS CHANCE. […]

  30. […] Many modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair that Solomon speaks of in Ecclesiastes.  Christian scholar Ravi Zacharias has noted, “The key to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes is the term ‘under the sun.’ What that literally means is you lock God out of a closed system, and you are left with only this world of time plus chance plus matter.” THIS IS EXACT POINT SCHAEFFER SAYS SECULAR ARTISTS ARE PAINTING FROM TODAY BECAUSE THEY BELIEVED ARE A RESULT OF MINDLESS CHANCE. […]

  31. […] Many modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair that Solomon speaks of in Ecclesiastes.  Christian scholar Ravi Zacharias has noted, “The key to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes is the term ‘under the sun.’ What that literally means is you lock God out of a closed system, and you are left with only this world of time plus chance plus matter.” THIS IS EXACT POINT SCHAEFFER SAYS SECULAR ARTISTS ARE PAINTING FROM TODAY BECAUSE THEY BELIEVED ARE A RESULT OF MINDLESS CHANCE. […]

  32. […] Many modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair that Solomon speaks of in Ecclesiastes.  Christian scholar Ravi Zacharias has noted, “The key to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes is the term ‘under the sun.’ What that literally means is you lock God out of a closed system, and you are left with only this world of time plus chance plus matter.” THIS IS EXACT POINT SCHAEFFER SAYS SECULAR ARTISTS ARE PAINTING FROM TODAY BECAUSE THEY BELIEVED ARE A RESULT OF MINDLESS CHANCE. […]

  33. […] Many modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair that Solomon speaks of in Ecclesiastes.  Christian scholar Ravi Zacharias has noted, “The key to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes is the term ‘under the sun.’ What that literally means is you lock God out of a closed system, and you are left with only this world of time plus chance plus matter.” THIS IS EXACT POINT SCHAEFFER SAYS SECULAR ARTISTS ARE PAINTING FROM TODAY BECAUSE THEY BELIEVED ARE A RESULT OF MINDLESS CHANCE. […]

  34. […] modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair […]

  35. […] modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair […]

  36. […] modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair […]

  37. […] modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair […]

  38. […] modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair […]

  39. […] modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair […]

  40. […] modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair […]

  41. […] modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair […]

  42. […] Many modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair that Solomon speaks of in Ecclesiastes.  Christian scholar Ravi Zacharias has noted, “The key to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes is the term ‘under the sun.’ What that literally means is you lock God out of a closed system, and you are left with only this world of time plus chance plus matter.” THIS IS EXACT POINT SCHAEFFER SAYS SECULAR ARTISTS ARE PAINTING FROM TODAY BECAUSE THEY BELIEVED ARE A RESULT OF MINDLESS CHANCE. […]

  43. […] vain” is ascribing negligible value to it. If there is anything in this universe that’s not vain, it is the Lord our God, and His name is a great gift and a great blessing, because it is a great […]

  44. […] modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair […]

  45. […] modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair […]

  46. […] modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair […]

  47. […] Then on the seventh day, God rested. Why did He rest? Not because He was tired, but because He was finished. And in order to show that everything that was made needs to stop – at least once a week for a […]

  48. […] Many modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair that Solomon speaks of in Ecclesiastes.  Christian scholar Ravi Zacharias has noted, “The key to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes is the term ‘under the sun.’ What that literally means is you lock God out of a closed system, and you are left with only this world of time plus chance plus matter.” THIS IS EXACT POINT SCHAEFFER SAYS SECULAR ARTISTS ARE PAINTING FROM TODAY BECAUSE THEY BELIEVED ARE A RESULT OF MINDLESS CHANCE. […]

  49. […] modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair […]

  50. […] modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair […]

  51. […] modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair […]

  52. […] modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair […]

  53. […] Many modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair that Solomon speaks of in Ecclesiastes as you looks at life UNDER THE SUN.  Another group of artists reached this point of desperation and it is those involved in the Dada movement and then the later Surrealist movement. […]

  54. […] Many modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair that Solomon speaks of in Ecclesiastes as you looks at life UNDER THE SUN.  Another group of artists reached this point of desperation and it is those involved in the Dada movement and then the later Surrealist movement. […]

  55. […] Many modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair that Solomon speaks of in Ecclesiastes.  Christian scholar Ravi Zacharias has noted, “The key to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes is the term ‘under the sun.’ What that literally means is you lock God out of a closed system, and you are left with only this world of time plus chance plus matter.” THIS IS EXACT POINT SCHAEFFER SAYS SECULAR ARTISTS ARE PAINTING FROM TODAY BECAUSE THEY BELIEVED ARE A RESULT OF MINDLESS CHANCE. […]

  56. […] modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair […]


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