Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Death and Hope

Ecclesiastes 9 is probably one of the most misunderstood chapters in Ecclesiastes. It states that the same thing happens to everyone alike and that we are all destined to die and be forgotten. It seems to say that it doesn’t matter if you are a “good” person or a “bad” person, we will all end up the same.

Life is so full of disappointment, isn’t it? How many people do you know that suffer from depression?  Sometimes it feels like we just live from one day to the next; like nothing makes any sense. In the deep recesses of our hearts we wonder why we are really here.

We all have a need for significance and meaning. Without that, we are not truly happy. We have expectations and make assumptions of how life should be. Life is too complicated for us to figure out, but still we keep searching and in fact, the Bible encourages the pursuit of wisdom and knowledge.

Chapter 9 starts with a bang— here it is paraphrased:

“I have come to the conclusion that even though we may understand that we are in the hand of God, nevertheless it is difficult to know from the events that happen to us whether we have His approval or his disapproval.”

Sometimes the righteous suffer, and the unrighteous get away with things. God’s ways are beyond finding out. We have to trust Him. There is no other way and life will continue to be a mystery to us. It is past finding out. One thing is for sure...we must all die.

I really do not like going to funerals, especially ones where there is no sliver of hope. They just make me cry. There is a positive thing about funerals though - they have a way of making us come to terms with reality. We just don’t spend a lot of time thinking about death in our culture. Many are unsure of what lies on the other side, and well...that’s just uncomfortable. We want to forget about death and just live. But it is truly better to go to the house of mourning than the house of feasting, but why must we die in the first place?

 *Death is a result of sin. It is the disease of the human race which none can escape...it has been passed down through the generations; we are born with it. Sin came into the world, and death through sin. (Romans 5:12) 

Solomon isn’t quite as curt about sin ”Also the hearts of men are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live.”  Nice! No chance of misunderstanding that phrase. That is why we needed a Saviour. Adam and Eve gave away the inheritance, and the only way to get it back was through a redeeming death. Their disobedience brought death through the generations. Christ's obedience gave Him the ability to conquer death, since it could not hold him; and it removed that penalty of disobedience (death) on our behalf (if we will accept it).

It’s quite an amazing thing!

Now, before I go on too long, I want to address Solomon’s statement that all alike will die. The reason this is so confusing to so many is because there are actually two deaths, yet it is only appointed to men to die once. Good and bad alike. However, hereafter there are separate judgments for the wicked and the righteous. The righteous, according to several scriptures, will inherit eternal life and not go through the second death. When you understand this, it is not hard to make sense of this portion of Ecclesiastes.

Some may still have a problem with verses 4 to 6. You must understand that this is “under the sun,”as clearly stated. This does not mean there is no life after death. It means we cannot return to life on this earth or anything associated with that (love, hate, envy) after death. We only have one chance at this life, and so we must do what we can to make it full and worthwhile. We must stop running after empty pleasures and meaningless experiences and make life count for the good.

Ask yourself: What is the purpose of my existence? What is it all about?

But then, right here, amidst all the doom and gloom of death, we find a beautiful glimmering diamond of hope.

I quote: “Go eat your bread with enjoyment, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has already approved what you do.” 



I love that verse! Here is a recognition of a relationship of righteousness that has already been established.  It is applied to all the people in the Old Testament as well as in the NT; to those who have repented and believe His Word. Once that is done you can believe that God has approved you, and on that basis you can live your life to the full, under the grace God has given. A life filled with the fruits of the Spirit, full of good works, knowing that sin no longer has dominion over you. A life lived in peace is rooted in trusting God, who knows what He is doing, and who teaches us on the journey. We do good works to please God, not to save ourselves.

Well, it’s 3:45 A.M. and I really need to get to bed!! Maybe I’ll post this on Tuesday so I can read over it first. ;)

Thank you so much for visiting!!