ECCLESIASTES-SERIES NR 7
Scripture: Ecclesiastes 8
Theme: Joy prescribed
With the book of Ecclesiastes one can easily find oneself in a maze. It sounds as if the writer is reflecting a very sombre and pessimistic outlook on life. But, in reality it is the complete opposite. He is so absolutely realistic. Looking the reality of life square in the eye. Under inspiration of the Holy Spirit of course (2 Tim 3:16).
The actual theme might have been: Life has to be enjoyed, regardless whether it is going well with you, or not going so well, because life HAS a REASON.
That is exactly what we have learned from the first 7 chapters. The meaning/sense of life (true wisdom) is, whether it is going well with you or not, to a) live in union with the only Person who possesses true wisdom, Jesus Christ (in NT-language) and b) to enjoy life (including earthly, physical things) as a gift. You can enjoy life. Not the way worldly people do, but in reverence for the Lord. “Reverence“, that is the true wisdom. To the writer of Ecclesiastes, true wisdom means to make new choices in everything that occurs in you life in reverence for the Lord. Instead of sitting and moping about WHY this or that is happening…
The modern day New Agers want us to believe that we are little gods. That includes false teachers from the New Apostolic Reformation like Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar etc. One could almost say that it is the new worldwide religion. We are bombarded with that online, TV etc. On certain channels the New Age-religion is openly propagated. They say that every person has something divine in their hearts (soul). You are actually a god, you simply do not know it. You only need to discover it. By way of meditation and all kinds of exercises (e.g. yoga) you will discover that divine spark in yourself. That of course, is exactly the ancient lie with which satan confronted Eve. Read it in Genesis 3. “You will be like God”.
Ever since the Fall it has still been every person’s evil ambition: To be a god (in their own right). Therefore, no one is more important than ourselves. That is why we need answers to things that happen in our lives. We want to have a logical answer for everything. If we do not find answers, we become pessimistic and indifferent. It is only Someone who is stronger who can deliver/liberate us from this. We cannot deliver ourselves from the craving/passion to be a god and wanting our human reason to reign.
Ecclesiastes 8 is very clear: We are wasting our precious lives by wanting to be a god ourselves. He does not put it in those exact words, but he wants at all cost to logically know what life is all about. Yet it is a waste of time. Why? Because we can/will never be in control. As simple as that. God is God and He did not create us to be His equal. There is a BOUNDARY between Him and ourselves. A boundary we can never cross.
If we should try to cross this boundary, we will come a poor second. You will then see life in a completely distorted way. As when you look at someone through the bottom of a glass. Everything that is happening in life looks/feels like it is insignificant/meaningless. Then it looks/feels to you as if believers are being punished and unbelievers are flourishing (verses 14-15).
It seems as if the things that the righteous receives, is what the wicked deserves, and the wicked receives what the righteous deserves. Feels completely as if the unsaved person is rewarded and the child of the Lord receives the short end of the stick (v 10). THAT IS THE WAY LIFE LOOKS when you do not accept that there is a BOUNDARY between you and God. Then you see a distorted view. You think and argue according to king man, and not according to the Word of God.
When you look at life the wrong way, you see a distorted image. It can be life-threatening. You see for example that the Lord is postponing His judgment (verses 11-13). You discover that the Lord is not judging you when you commit certain sins. And then you think that He actually approves (that which you are doing). Then you continue doing it. And then it gets a hold over you. Perhaps you use the Lord’s Name in vain – OMG – nothing happens. Then you think: “Well, maybe it is not so bad…” Or, you are unfaithful to your spouse OR you are living with your girlfriend/ boyfriend as if you are married. And, nothing happens. It is very pleasant. It is jolly, and you are experiencing so much PEACE… The Lord seems quite satisfied with what we are doing… after all, we are still doing Bible study together… And then you think: “Well, I think the Lord is very happy with me…”
What you do not realise: The Lord is merely postponing the judgment for later. Because He did not come into the world to destroy, but to save. You just do not realise that you are busy hanging yourself by your own rope! The entire Bible is full of it that says that the Lord is putting off His judgment. He is hugely gracious and compassionate. There is no one like Him. He is tolerant. In the time of Noah he warned them for many years that God’s judgment is at hand – and they laughed at him and mocked his message. Until the day when the Lord finally locked the door of the Ark and the flood started. Those who are first at some stage, will be last and those who looked as if they were last, shall be first.
God was prepared to save Sodom if only there were 5 believers. But, when we look at life in a wrong and distorted way, then we abuse God’s and persist with our sin, revolt and rebellion. We deceive ourselves and think that He approves our sins, because He is seemingly doing nothing about it.
Can you see what Ecclesiastes 8 is revealing to us? He is showing us how distorted we see life when we do not acknowledge that there is a BOUNDARY between us and God. Then we want to (at all cost) have answers to the secret of life. Then we feel that the Lord is at our disposal, and not that we are in His service. The Lord then becomes the great “problem-solver”. He is the “emergency worker” that is called in when I – the great king – become stuck….
Have you also sometimes felt as if you want to climb the walls because you can not find answers? Because you do not find solutions to your questions? The “why” and “wherefore” questions drain away a lot of our energy. Your face gets a hard appearance, as it says in verse 1. WHY does the world look like this? WHY does the Lord not deal with the devil? WHY does a man has an accident when he sincerely prayed for protection beforehand? WHY does the Lord not prevent disasters? WHY does He not wipe Covid-19 from the planet – isn’t He all-powerful? And so forth… Do you also know something of this inner struggle?
And yet we do indeed have an answer to our questions. Ecclesiastes 8 sounds/looks so negative. But, in actual fact Solomon comes up with a surprising answer.
Even though there are not always answers to all our questions, yet there is indeed an answer. But, you do not discover it until you completely break down and acknowledge that you, as human, do not have a little god inside of you. That you do not have any godly insight (acknowledged in v 17). Verse 8 mentions (as an example) only 2 things over which man can do NOTHING: wind and death. There is only one Person who could still the wind and remove death’s sting, and that was Jesus of Nazareth.
It is very difficult to bend our knees before HIM. It is not easy. In fact it is impossible. It is truly the Holy Spirit who creates the true faith in us. It is a miracle that takes place inside you. The same way it was at the original Creation when God simply spoke the whole creation into being. By the Word we continuously hear, the Spirit works in whom He wants and when He wants. But, in that manner we are increasingly made able to find enjoyment in life, even though we do not receive answers to all your questions! (v 15)
That is precisely the medication that Ecclesiastes 8 prescribes. Recommends ENJOYMENT as a solution. Even though there are not answers to all our questions, yet there is an answer when you as a human come to the realisation that you are not god, and bend your knees to the Lord Jesus Christ. And that answer is: To joyfully continue living with the Lord and your neighbour, even though you do not know all the answers. True wisdom is not to understand and explain everything. True wisdom is to continue living with the Lord with reverence, even though you do not understand everything.
True wisdom is learning to see the Lord in everything. To know Him as FATHER. Instead of asking: “Lord, why…” to say: “Lord, I see Your hand in it…”
Then you can even do something like obey the authorities, even though you do not agree with everything. Besides, that is the example that the Holy Spirit gives in verses 2-5. Obedience to the authorities that the Lord set over you. Obedience to authority is not a matter of own free choice. Not for someone who lives with the Lord. If we are children of God, we must subject ourselves. Also to the authorities with whom we are dissatisfied. Ecclesiastes points out exactly how difficult it sometimes can be to live with certain kings. The art is to still enjoy life as a gift in reverence for the Lord.
Of course we cannot obey authorities in regards to laws that are going against the Scriptures. Daniel kept on prayer 3 times a day despite the king’s orders.
But verses 2-5 speaks of obedience in principle – and with that no Christian can differ.
Now you know just as well as I do that our human nature can not/ will not accept this commendation of Ecclesiastes. Not one of us can so very easily walk out of here and stop being a god ourselves and stop wanting to understand life in a logical way and live with reverence for the Lord and have joy and gladness in everything that happens (the sweet and the bitter)! It is to expect the impossible. We need the unfailing Life of Jesus in and through us. According to Hebr 1:9 Christ is anointed with joy. The joy Solomon is talking about, is actually to be found in Christ alone. HE is the exclamation mark behind Ecclesiastes chapter 8! Jesus is die answer to Eccl 8. We can only live that way when Someone who is stronger, continuously conquers our hearts.
And, He DID conquer, when He redeemed our lives with His own life on the cross at Calvary. And, He is still conquering our hearts by the power of His Holy Spirit. Do not be so foolish to not believe Him. The person who has wisdom WILL believe on Christ! And such a person will be in the grip of the Spirit. And the Spirit will produce His fruit. And the fruit of the Spirit fulfils Ecclesiastes 8.
Translated by Marthie Wilson