Instructions from the Grave
Greetings and grace to you in the name of Christ Jesus, our risen Lord. This week we come to the central portion of the Preacher’s argument in Ecclesiastes. With chapter six, Solomon begins a new cycle in his argument, which as we now can see more clearly, is that “life is to be enjoyed by faith.” Here Solomon is working toward the conclusion that even though the wicked may prosper, their destiny is certain:
“Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and prolongs his life, yet I know that it will be well with those who fear God, because they fear before him. But it will not be well with the wicked, neither will he prolong his days like a shadow, because he does not fear before God.
“There is a [vapor] that takes place on earth, that there are righteous people to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked, and there are wicked people to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous. I said that this this also is [vapor]. And I commend joy, for man has no good thing under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 8:12-15)
This is the goal to which Solomon is taking us in this section. He begins by making a startling statement in 6:1-6 (that a man may be better off non-existent) and leads the perceptive reader to begin asking all kinds of questions. This has been Solomon’s intention all along. He is taking us deeper and deeper with him on his journey. To accomplish this, he often begins his sections with observations mixed with questions and relative judgments (this is better than that), only to end the section with answers and advice. In this case the major questions of this section are powerfully presented in chapter 6, relative judgments are made in chapter 7 and parts of chapter 8, and then the answer is given, once again, in 8:12-15, together with the advice that he has given before at the end of this section.
As we consider the central portion of Solomon’s argument this week, our focus will be centered on chapter 7, in which Solomon urges us to take the less traveled road. He prepares us to take the way of wisdom as he helps us grasp the big message of Ecclesiastes – that life in this world eludes our control. Hence, the question that confronts us is, how should we then live?
There are two options. When we realize that we cannot explain everything, that the people we love will become ill and die, and we don’t know why God could allow this to happen, once we accept there is injustice and oppression, or we have to face the fact that there is a throbbing hurt at the core of our soul that won’t go away, one option is to try to flee reality and numb the pain to avoid the problems. Party as hard as we can, laugh as loud and as often as possible, drink ourselves into oblivion, live in the past or a land of make-believe instead of the present – that’s the route of escapism.
The other option, the one on offer here in chapter 7, is wisdom. Learn to live wisely in God’s world in the midst of all the brokenness. Augustine sums up the wisdom this chapter offers as he writes, “use and enjoy the things of the world but love God alone. Only when we love God are we able to properly use and enjoy the gifts God gives us in this world.”
Will you join us this week as we talk about the way of wisdom? Are you on the way of wisdom? Come this Lord’s Day as we hear “instructions from the grave.” Why don’t you bring along a friend or family member to learn about the wisdom of God?
Don’t forget to update your contact information. One of the things we desire to do for building a sense of community is providing an online directory that will be accessible for members only, and the only way we can do this is if you provide your contact information. Please take a moment to do this online. If you have any questions please contact Keri or Wayne. Thank you in advance for your gracious help.
Finally, let me encourage you to remember to pray for us as we plan the service. Pray for our men as we train and equip them to serve. Pray for us as we make decisions regarding the future of Redeemer. Pray for Reformation. Did I mention the need to pray? May the Lord show favor to you and your family. I give thanks to God for the privilege of serving you in Christ.
For His Glory,