That which has been is what will be,
That which is done is what will be done,
And there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there anything of which it may be said,
“See, this is new”?
It has already been in ancient times before us.
There is no remembrance of former things,
Nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come
By those who will come after.-Ecclesiastes 1:9-11, NKJV
The Book of Ecclesiastes has the same meaning as Book of Ecclesia, or “Book of the Church.” This should get our attention right away, because the Church is a new creation under the Son of God, pictured in previous articles as typified by the sun in the heavens.
The language of a new creation is not limited to the two verses in the KJV that include that actual phrase (Gal. 6:15, 2 Cor. 5:17). Other passages, such as Galatians 6:12-16, 2 Corinthians 5:14-19, Ephesians 2:11-22, Ephesians 4:17-24, and Colossians 3:1-11 present new creation teaching also, without that exact phrase.Wikipedia, New Creation (Theology)
Matthew alludes to the new creation in his first verse by writing “The book of the Genesis of Jesus Christ,” referring both to his genealogy and to his role as the Creator from Genesis, come to make everything new.
Few dispute that the writer of Ecclesiastes was King Solomon, because he identifies himself as the son of David and the king over Israel in Jerusalem. Jewish tradition says he wrote the Song of Solomon as a young man, Proverbs in the prime of his life, and Ecclesiastes in his old age.
These are his credentials:
29 And God gave Solomon wisdom and exceedingly great understanding, and largeness of heart like the sand on the seashore. 30 Thus Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the men of the East and all the wisdom of Egypt. 31 For he was wiser than all men—than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol; and his fame was in all the surrounding nations. 32 He spoke three thousand proverbs, and his songs were one thousand and five. 33 Also he spoke of trees, from the cedar tree of Lebanon even to the hyssop that springs out of the wall; he spoke also of animals, of birds, of creeping things, and of fish. 34 And men of all nations, from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom, came to hear the wisdom of Solomon. – 1 Kings 4, NKJV
How is it that the greatest intellect in history writes, “There is nothing new under the sun…it has already been in ancient times before us?” If this wisdom is the Word of God, let’s think about this statement a little more.
From the perspective of Solomon in the tenth century BC, “ancient times” was a reference to the age before the flood of Noah. Abraham was born less than ten years after Noah died. Shem traveled in the ark, founded the city of Salem, and lived to be 600, outliving Abraham. The history of Israel beginning with Abraham was hardly considered ancient when Solomon lived, being only one thousand years, and all of it well-documented in Torah. Solomon was writing about things which had “no remembrance” by those who came after.
At face value then, this statement means that nothing has happened since the flood that was not already going on before the flood. Any science or technology we have was already known before. The rise and fall of great civilizations began before Babylon and Egypt, which came after the waters receded. The language of man was not corrupted until Nimrod built the tower, after the flood. They also enjoyed lifespans that were many times ours, some living beyond 900 years. Estimates of pre-flood populations, given their lifespans, are as high as ten trillion. https://biblescienceguy.wordpress.com/2014/06/18/4-population-growth-how-many-died-in-noahs-flood/
But this is not all that Solomon is saying here. His first statement was, “That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done.” This means that whatever happens on earth in the future will only repeat what took place before God destroyed the world by water. Peter wrote something very similar:
scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, 6 by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. 7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. – 2 Peter 3 NKJV
How much knowledge could a person accumulate in 900 years? But they did not acquire their vast wisdom entirely through science. They received a great deal of it in a much darker way.
Hints from the Book of Enoch
The Book of Enoch is considered apocryphal by Jews and Christians alike, with the exception of Ethiopian Jews and the Ethiopian Orthodox, who believe that Enoch wrote it and it is the Word of God. The early Christians accepted it, with more than 100 possible quotes, or matches of phrases from it found in the New Testament. Jude, Peter, and John appear to rely on it the most, but Jesus also referred to it.
Scholars cannot be certain when the version we have now was written, or by whom, but it resembles other apocalyptic writings from the Maccabean period, with parts of it as old as 300 BC. It may have had more than one editor, accumulating with additions from fragmentary sources. Parts of it were found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, and many of the early Church Fathers accepted it, including Athenagoras, Clement of Alexandria, Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Origen. Bits and pieces of it have been found in various languages and traditions, suggesting that an original may have existed, and that it was very old indeed.
Enoch wasn’t excluded from the Christian cannon until the Council of Laodicea was held in 363 or 364 AD, in which about 30 clerics determined which books could be read in church. Among the books they excluded with it was the Book of Revelation. At this council they also condemned astrology, a topic Enoch wrote about in some detail.
I have taken time to review the origins of Enoch, because today we do not have the same confidence in it that the New Testament writers had. It is still regarded as valuable scholarship, a reflection of what Christians and Jews believed in the New Testament period about history before the Flood of Noah, under the sun.
The first portion of the Book of Enoch tells us about the fall of the angels, their number and the names of their leaders, how they made a wicked covenant to take wives from the daughters of men to have sons, and how the Lord sent Enoch to proclaim his judgements against them, and their offspring. Enoch was the first human taken up into heaven. Because he had access to God and they did not, they asked him to petition the Lord for forgiveness. He wrote their petitions, but the Lord denied them.
We learn things from Enoch that provide background and insight into some of the hardest questions we encounter in Bible study:
Where did demons come from?
Where did the giants come from, and why did God command men to destroy them?
What are evil spirits? Are they just demons or something else?
How did the ancients obtain their vast wisdom on science and technology?
Who named the stars and taught men how to recon by them?
What is magic, and where did it originate?
Who invented mining, metallurgy, and the manufacture of weapons of war?
Where did the gods of the Pagan world come from?
Why did God destroy the earth with a flood?
Why does the Lord forbid eating blood?
Why does the Lord forbid intermarriage?
Why did God command that entire groups of people be killed – men, women, and children?
Is the manipulation of human genetics new, or is there really “nothing new under the sun?”
As tantalizing as the above list is, I leave it to you to find the Book of Enoch on the internet and read it yourself. I may come back to some of these questions in future posts, but please remember that we do not read Enoch in church anymore. It was controversial before Christ, and still is today.
The Church, or Ecclesia, or Ecclesiastes, is a new creation “under the Son.” We don’t conform to the first creation in Genesis. We don’t conform to what happened before the flood, any more than we do to what happened before Christ. Consider it a blessing that we no longer remember much about the days when giants walked the earth.
Above all else that Enoch was, today he is a type of the Church:
21 Enoch lived sixty-five years, and begot Methuselah. 22 After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and had sons and daughters. 23 So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. 24 And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him. -Genesis 5 NKJV
Enoch’s name means “teaching.” I wonder if he was God’s teaching to the angels that left their assigned places in heaven and fell to the earth. God showed them by Enoch that He could rapture a redeemed man from the earth to take their place.