The Preacher has been looking at wisdom and cycling back around to the same conclusions, namely that we aren’t capable of grasping the knowledge we seek.
His final three chapters are mostly positive, but we have another chapter that is mostlyfrustration.
Read Ecclesiastes 9:1-12
Considering all the injustice and frustrations of life, is it even worth living? He’s done this before. In fact, this is the 6x the Preacher has called his readers to enjoy life. Why say it again? I think you know why…because we need to hear it again.
This isn’t a call to superficial joy, but joy that is rooted in reality. You don’t know what will happen tomorrow. You don’t know whether justice will be served. Despite your ignorance, enjoy life!
Enjoy each day of your short life despite it’s injustice and unpredictability!
- Admit Injustice (1-3)
- Accept Death (4-6)
- Enjoy Life (7-10)
Admit Injustice (1-3)
1 God is in control. He alone knows the future. God is omniscient, and we are not!
2 The wicked are rewarded (8:14). All experience misfortune. The righteous/good/clean have no advantages. Bumper sticker:
Eat well, stay fit, and die anyway.
3 Evil (2x) = misery/trouble (8:6). Evil/Madness corrupt everyone “under the sun” (5x). All have the same fate-death. This will be elaborated in the next section.
The first time I was really caught off guard by man’s depravity was in high school. I had grown up with a friend at church but we always attended different schools. When I transferred from Clovis West to Buchanan my sophomore year, I thought I would hang out with him. But, it didn’t take very long to recognize that our lifestyles were drastically different. I was surprised by how openly hypocritical he acted in front of me.
Honestly, I was doing the same thing a few years prior. Going to church every Sunday made no difference in the way I acted during the week.
Instead of being grateful for the Lord’s grace in my life, I was filled with a self-righteous shock. How could he?
Jesus called out hypocrisy, and we shouldn’t shy away from doing so once we’ve removed the log from our own eye.
There’s at least one advantage in life…
Accept Death (4-6)
The looming shadow of death usually fades into the background. However, for some death is an obsession. Here, the Preacher exhorts that latter group.
4 Alive at bottom > dead at top.
5 At least the living know they will die. It’s better than knowing nothing. Life “under the sun” is over for them.
6 Everything about them has perished with them. Their experience of love, hate, and desire are gone.
Have you ever had the opportunity to counsel someone who was having suicidal thoughts? To worry incessantly about death is to experience some of the consequences of death before you’re actually dead.
A loss of character and emotion eventually leads to isolation and despair. Suicide becomes a genuine consideration.
Convincing them that life is worth living begins with admitting that life hasn’t always been wonderful, and accepting that life won’t always be wonderful in the future.
Gethsemane is where we find Jesus wrestling with this fear of suffering. Saturated in sweat, he pleaded with the Father to remove this cup. Yet, he submitted to the will of God’s redemptive plan.
Now, maybe you don’t live with a morbid fear of death, but you have probably experienced the desire to hide/disappear. Giving into the temptation to isolate yourself from others never helps, it only hurts-everyone.
The antidote to isolation and despair is…
Enjoy Life (7-10)
7 Enjoy your food and wine in good conscience. God approves of your enjoyment! Assumes moderation, Scripture always forbids abuse.
8 White clothes, oily head = Dress for a party. Add a spritz of Cool Water!
9 Enjoy your wife! Date your wife! Don’t delay reconciliation. Love her! Discover her hopes and dreams again!
10 Be fully present! Put down the phone! Engage with your family! You don’t get another chance at this life.
Epic of Gilgamesh:
Gilgamesh, whither are you wandering? Life, which you look for, you will never find. For when the gods created man, they let death be his share, and life withheld in their own hands. Gilgamesh, fill your belly—day and night make merry, let days be full of joy, dance and make music day and night. And wear fresh clothes, and wash your head and bathe. Look at the child that is holding your hand, and let your wife delight in your embrace. These things alone are the concern of men.
The Preacher always points us to God (1, 7, 9 = divine passive).
It’s impossible to fully enjoy life. Overindulgence leads to idolatry. Why is that? We must consider events that occurred before our brief lives.
What brought us here? Fall > Inherited a sinful nature.
Passage bookended with equal fate of everyone.
- 11 “Under the sun” rewards are dolled out by “time and chance”.
- 12 Evil/death falls upon anyone and everyone all of a sudden. We don’t control our destiny!
Does that fill you with despair or hope?
We must consider what the Preacher doesn’t. How can we “rejoice always…give thanks in all circumstances”? Because death is a blessing for those united to Christ. What follows death? Glory.
Because of the resurrection of the dead, the Christian will find death as gain (Phil. 1:21-23). Death brings more of Christ, everlasting rest, superior glory. No more pain, sorrow, death.
1 Peter 1:3-4. Make that your hope! You can’t imagine what Christ has prepared for those who do!
Believer, enjoy each day despite it’s injustice and unpredictability because your earthly enjoyment prepares you for your eternal reward!