Ecclesiastes 9: Destiny
October 12, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Jeremiah 30-31, Ecclesiastes 9, John 4:15-26, James 5:13-20
Most of this chapter is about how a common destiny awaits us all—wise or foolish. And in the “teacher’s” “under the sun” perspective, it is not really possible to know much of what life after death will be. In fact, he has a pretty depressing view of what awaits us.
“in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.”
Of course, this is a very different view to the New Testament’s description of life after death and the resurrection to come!
Consider Revelation 21 verses 3-4:
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’”
Or consider how Jesus describes what is waiting for his disciples when they die in John 14:
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
What is more, this description is even different from the point of view of other parts of the Old Testament. Consider the story of Elijah who was taken up to heaven in a glorious vision seen by Elisha in 2 Kings 2:11-12. Or Enoch who walked with God and then was taken to be with God in Genesis 5:24. Or David’s meditation on eternal rewards in Psalm 73.
“You guide me with your counsel and afterward you will receive me to glory.”
So, once again, we need to be reminded that the “teacher” is taking a position, he is constructing an experiment, he is asking himself whether life lived only “under the sun”—that is from a this-world, uncertainty about the next world—point of view is actually meaningful. He traces one mode of living after another, and finds them all meaningless, “under the sun.” Why? Well chapter 9 begins to lay out the final argument, which is the argument of final destiny. If you do not know where you are going after you die, or if you have little certainty about what that would mean, why does anything you do here matter at all? The answer is that it does not. All you can do is try to enjoy life “all your meaningless days”!
But that is not much—and so with that perspective we are again driven to realize that the great task of life is to find the meaning of life, and that meaning (as he will conclude in chapter 12) is found in obedience of, and trust in, and fear of, the living God!
Think on these things—yes, even death. For that will cause us to make sure that what we are doing now is truly meaningful. And that which is truly meaningful is to live life fully for Christ, the One who is risen from the dead, and in whom we too will rise from the dead!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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