'Futility' in the Bible
They rejected His statutes and His covenant which He made with their fathers, as well as His warnings that he gave them. And they followed vanity [that is, false gods, idols] and became vain (empty-headed). They followed the [pagan practices of the] nations which surrounded them, although the Lord had commanded that they were not to do as they did.
So I have been made to inherit months of futility,and troubled nights have been assigned to me.
“I waste away and loathe my life; I will not live forever.Let me alone, for my days are but a breath [futile and without substance].
I will be condemned, so why should I wear myself out with this futility?
“Let him not trust in vanity (emptiness, futility) and be led astray;For emptiness will be his reward [for such living].
O sons of men, how long will my honor and glory be [turned into] shame?How long will you [my enemies] love worthless (vain, futile) things and seek deception and lies? Selah.
“Surely every man walks around like a shadow [in a charade];Surely they make an uproar for nothing;Each one builds up riches, not knowing who will receive them.
Men of low degree are only a breath (emptiness), and men of [high] rank are a lie (delusion).In the balances they go up [because they have no measurable weight or value];They are together lighter than a breath.
He made their days end in futility,their years in sudden disaster.
Remember how fleeting my lifetime is;For what vanity, [for what emptiness, for what futility, for what wisp of smoke] You have created all the sons of men!
He who sows injustice will reap [a harvest of] trouble,And the rod of his wrath [with which he oppresses others] will fail.
“Absolute futility,” says the Teacher.“Absolute futility. Everything is futile.”
I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure. So enjoy yourself.” And behold, it too was futility.
Then I said to myself, “As it happens to the fool, so death will also happen to me. What use is it then for me to be extremely wise?” Then I said in my heart, “This too is vanity (meaningless).”
So I hated life, for the work which had been done under the sun was grievous to me; because everything is futility and striving after wind.
And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the fruit of my labor for which I have labored by acting wisely under the sun. This too is vanity (futility, self-conceit).
For there is a man who has labored with wisdom and knowledge and skill, yet gives his legacy to one who has not labored for it. This too is vanity and a great evil.
For all his days his work is painful and sorrowful; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is vanity (worthless).
For the [earthly] fate of the sons of men and the fate of animals is the same. As one dies, so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no preeminence or advantage for man [in and of himself] over an animal, for all is vanity.
Again, I saw futility under the sun:
There was a certain man—without a dependent, having neither a child nor a brother, yet there was no end to all his labor. Indeed, his eyes were not satisfied with riches and he never asked, “For whom do I labor and deprive myself of pleasure?” This too is vanity (a wisp of smoke, self-conceit); yes, it is a painful effort and an unhappy task.
For many dreams bring futility, so do many words. Therefore, fear God.
He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its gain. This too is vanity (emptiness).
a man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor, so that he lacks nothing of all that he desires, yet God has not given him the power or capacity to enjoy them [all those things which are gifts from God], but a stranger [in whom he has no interest succeeds him and] enjoys them. This is vanity and it is a [cause of] great distress.
For he comes in futility and he goes in darkness, and his name is shrouded in darkness.
What the eyes see is better than what the soul desires. This too is futility and a striving after wind.
For when there are many words, they increase futility. What is the advantage for man?
For as the crackling of thorn bushes under a pot,So is the laughter of the fool;And this too is futility.
I have seen everything during my lifetime of futility; there is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his wickedness.
So then, I have seen the wicked buried, those who used to go in and out from the holy place, and they are soon forgotten in the city where they did thus. This too is futility.
There is a futility that is done on the earth: there are righteous people who get what the actions of the wicked deserve, and there are wicked people who get what the actions of the righteous deserve. I say that this too is futile.
Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given you under the sun—all the days of vanity and futility. For this is your reward in life and in your work in which you have labored under the sun.
Yes, if a man should live many years, let him rejoice in them all; yet let him remember the days of darkness, for they will be many. All that is to come will be futility.
“Absolute futility,” says the Teacher. “Everything is futile.”
“Do not bring worthless offerings again,[Your] incense is repulsive to Me;[Your] New Moon and Sabbath [observances], the calling of assemblies—I cannot endure wickedness [your sin, your injustice, your wrongdoing] and [the squalor of] the festive assembly.
that make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and pervert the judgment of the righteous by futility.
All the nations are as nothing before Him,They are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless.
It is He who reduces dignitaries to nothing,Who makes the judges (rulers) of the earth meaningless (useless).
“In fact, all of these [pagan prophets and priests] are false;Their works are worthless,Their cast images are [merely] wind and emptiness.
But I myself said: I have labored in vain,I have spent my strength for nothing and futility;yet my vindication is with the Lord,and my reward is with my God.
No one sues righteously [but for the sake of doing injury to others—to take some undue advantage], and no one pleads [his case] in truth; [but rather]They trust in empty arguments and speak lies;They conceive trouble and bring forth injustice.
They hatch adders' eggs and weave a spider's web; whoever eats their eggs dies, and any crushed egg hatches out futility.
Thus says the Lord,“What injustice or unrighteousness did your fathers find in Me,That they have wandered far from MeAnd [habitually] walked after emptiness and futility and became empty?
But they are altogether irrational and stupid and foolishIn their discipline of delusion—their idol is [only] wood [it is ridiculous, empty and worthless]!
Then the Lord said to me, “The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name. I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds.
O Lord, my strength and my stronghold,And my refuge in the day of distress,To You the nations will comeFrom the ends of the earth and say,“Our fathers have inherited nothing but falsehood,Futility and things of no profit.”
Thus says the Lord of hosts,“Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you.They are leading you into futility;They speak a vision of their own imagination,Not from the mouth of the Lord.
They are worthless (empty, false, futile), a work of delusion and worthy of derision;In the time of their inspection and punishment they will perish.
“But do not resort to Bethel [to worship the golden calf]Nor enter [idolatrous] Gilgal,Nor cross over to Beersheba [and its idols];For Gilgal will certainly go into captivity and exile,And Bethel will come to nothing.
“Is it not indeed from the Lord of hostsThat peoples labor [only] for the fire [that will destroy their work],And nations grow weary for nothing [that is, things which have no lasting value]?
For the teraphim (household idols) speak wickedness (emptiness, worthlessness),And the diviners see lying visionsAnd tell false dreams;They comfort in vain.Therefore the people wander like sheep,They are afflicted and suffer because there is no shepherd.
For the creation was subjected to futility—not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it—in the hope
Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer walk as the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their thoughts.