When discussing scripture we can get stuck on a phrase and miss the intent. We read “there is nothing new under the sun” and think immediately of our smart phone. We are certain the author was disconnected from the reality of how much technology has changed our lives.
Ecclesiastes is examining life to see if there is any lasting gain (yithron) from all our hard work under the sun. That is his quest and he does not deviate it throughout his book. To frame that discussion he opens his book by showing us that no matter how hard we work, the cycles of the earth do not change and we still live and die the same as we always have.
“Everything goes on in endless cycles, yet our mouths never tire of speaking, our eyes never finish looking, and our ears never get their fill of listening. How we live and work under the sun does not change. Even though people say, “Things are different now,” it was this way long before we were born. We have forgotten what happened before our time, and in the future the memory of what is taking place now will also vanish.”
His point is that the general principals of how we live and work under the sun have remained constant since creation. Humans will always relate to each other whether it be through an instant text message or a papyrus scroll. How we must work to earn our daily bread will never change and the thorns and thistles of creation cannot be conquered by technology (although we are arrogant enough to think they can). Technology has become a new messiah and we actually believe mankind can finally beat God’s curse against the ground we live upon. Thorns and thistles can be sprayed with herbicide and the randomness of God’s twisted world can be mitigated by our growing ability to control and forecast what the future holds.
Kohelet’s words have lasted for 2500 years for they are “honest and true”. We may want to believe that we have advanced as a race but you don’t have to lift the veil of human advancement very high to see the truth.
Vance - www.artofwork.ca