God will judge every deed. We must all – me, you, every person who ever lived – appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive the due for what we have done while living on this earth, whether good or evil (2 Corinthians 5:10).
In the blink of an eye, all our deeds will be laid bare naked before us, even the evil we did not know we were doing. Whether you are the Ukrainian President Zelensky trying to fight for the survival of your country or the Russian President Putin trying to usurp another country’s sovereignty, we will all be appalled when the lid is ripped open and our deeds and motivations exposed for what they really were. At that moment the only words we will be able to utter will be: “I am not worthy, Lord, send me into the abyss. I am unworthy to enter the gates of your glorious kingdom, for I am a sinful man (I am a sinful woman) and the only thing I deserve is to be dammed forever.”
The Book of Ecclesiastes takes the reader for a ride. You might find yourself lost in all the loops. For this reason, the divinely inspired editor gives a summary statement at the end: “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of humanity (Ecclesiastes 12:13).”
“The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth (Ecclesiastes 12:10).” What types of words do you seek out? The Preacher in the Book of Ecclesiastes sought words that met the highest standards of both form and content.
The anthropologist Ernest Becker wrote in his Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Denial of Death,” “The idea of death, the fear of it, haunts the human animal like nothing else; it is the mainspring of human activity – activity designed largely to avoid the fatality of death, to overcome it by denying…that it is the final destiny.”
The pursuit of pleasure in our society has reached an Epicurean high. We endlessly grasp for those things that will give us a sense of inward tranquility and happiness. We have largely succeeded. We have more material goods and means of obtaining pleasure than most other countries in the world. So how come our gain largely has led to pain? Why do more people suffer from anxiety, loneliness, and discontentment than at almost any other time in our history? You can’t blame the pandemic. Statistics were already on the rise before that. The pandemic only exacerbated what were already upward trending problems.
The Preacher in the Book of Ecclesiastes exposed the myth that the pursuit of pleasure can fulfill our longing for lasting significance.
“Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.” With these words the Preacher in the Book of Ecclesiastes begins his journey of exploring all that is done under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:2, 13).
Jesus and his disciples encountered a severe case of demon possession on the other side of the sea of Galilee. No one could walk on the path because the demons possessing these two fellows would not let them.
The demons began to negotiate with Jesus, “What have you to do with us?” They know who he is, the “Son of God.” They want to know if Jesus has “come to torment” them “before the time.” They apparently know one day the Devil and all his minions, including them, will be thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10). However, they apparently did not know there would be a gap of time between the Son of God’s inauguration of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth and the consummation of that Kingdom. They are perplexed why Jesus has arrived soo seemingly early.
I want to take a moment to talk about the demonic. That may not be a popular thing to do nowadays. Please do not think I lost it. In our day people feels uncomfortable talking about this, but we need to.
C.S. Lewis said in his preface to The Screwtape Letters: “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”
We need to have a balanced, healthy appreciation for the demonic. Let me offer a few reasons why I think this.
Jesus’ disciples heeded his call to go with him to the other side of the sea. They went with him to a place they did not want to go, a land of gentiles. This trip required a great sacrifice of both time and energy. Still, they heeded the call and went. Yet, instead of finding reward, they encountered hardship.
A great storm arose on the water that day, filling the ship with water that threatened to capsize their ship and take their lives. They put all their hopes in this man, and now they feared their hopes would be dashed to pieces with their ship and them in it.
A potential disciple responded to Jesus’ command to go to the other side of the sea by saying, “let me first go and bury my father (Matthew 8:21).” We might find ourselves shocked at Jesus’ rebuttal, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead (Matthew 8:22).”