Monday, April 22, 2013

Ecclesiastes 9

Eccl 9:3-10 This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of people, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead. Anyone who is among the living has hope—even a live dog is better off than a dead lion! For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even their name is forgotten. Their love, their hate and their jealousy have long since vanished; never again will they have a part in anything that happens under the sun. Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.
 
We don't like to discuss death-especially our own. But death is a reality that we cannot avoid. As Benjamin Franklin has said, "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." However uncomfortable we may feel about death, it is something that comes to us sooner or later. Reflecting on our own death can give life its proper perspective.

For the Preacher, death is the end of sensibility and awareness: "For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even their name is forgotten." Death is an enemy, not a friend, of all that give meaning to life. It is an enemy to be defeated: "For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death" (1 Corinthians 15:25-26).

Jesus didn't come to bring life after death but bring life instead of death: "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26). Jesus comes to bring life after life because we will never die if we believe Him. In other word, when our body ceases to function, it is not end of us but just the end of this mortal body. But because we have the Holy Spirit, who is God's eternal life within us, our soul (person) can never cease to exist, though our present body may cease to function. The hope of bodily resurrection is the heart of the Gospel. It enables us to continue living as before in a new immortal body on a new Earth: "Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed" (1 Cor 15:51-52).

While the Preacher (Solomon) has no such clear hope of resurrection as New Testament saints have, nevertheless, what he says about life still applies: "Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do... Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom." God has put us here to enjoy life in Him, not endure life. We can only enjoy life when we live life with purpose and passion.

Father, thank You for making this world a beautiful place for us to enjoy. May You help us find the purpose You put us here so we may live out Your purpose with passion. Amen.

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