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).
Ecclesiastes 3:11-15 is commonly read at funerals. Outside of its calming rhythmic poetry, few have considered exactly what it means. Space does not allow me to quote the passage, so please click the read link to read it on your own.
Macbeth Act 5 Scene 5
There would have been a time for such a word.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
We see in this quote from Shakespeare’s Macbeth that the theme of Ecclesiastes is felt and expressed by all men in all of history. Continue reading →