ECCLESIASTES-SERIES NR 5
Scripture: Ecclesiastes 5:8 – 6:12
Theme: Joy of life above circumstances
This passage of Scripture sounds almost as if it has the same theme as the previous passage. A repetition therefore. He again talks about wealth and poverty etc.
Yet it is not the same theme that is merely being repeated. In this passage the Holy Spirit has a different approach. He wishes to show us that real/true joy of life and gladness is not dependent upon what we have or not have. Not dependent upon what we are or not. Not dependent on how it is faring with us.
Very often we are unhappy and dissatisfied because we are looking for the secret of life in the wrong places. The pivot around which our lives revolve is often not the LORD HIMSELF. And what happens when that which is the centre of your life miscarries (which happens 9/10 times)?? Then you yourself also fall apart.
Is that not exactly what happens to us to greater or lesser degree? That is what the Holy Spirit is telling us – in no uncertain terms – in today’s passage of Scripture…
One can understand why the author of Ecclesiastes (Solomon) is putting such emphasis upon the earthly life of every day. The community of the nation Israel was at best based in agriculture. For their daily needs they were mainly dependent upon their harvests and livestock.
That is why verse 9 is saying that the king himself profits from the fields. Such a king shows that he has a heart for his people, that he regards them as the Lord’s creations.
But with an agricultural nation like Israel, there are hidden dangers. People who live so close to the soil could easily fall into the temptation to make the soil the centre of their lives. What is the result? Then you are never satisfied with what you have. Never satisfied with what you are. From dissatisfaction comes a whole lot of other sins and evil.
The feeling that you never have enough, causes you to remain discontented and restless. Want to accumulate and accumulate and in like measure your worries increase. No sleep and stomach ulcers… (5:12). As 6:3 talks about the man who has 100 children and lives many years, but cannot enjoy his prosperity. It is the same with people in the city – not necessarily only a farmer!
The Holy Spirit gives these concrete examples. He says that the person who makes earthly possessions the centre of his life, go to rack and ruin when he loses it. Verse 14: You can lose your wealth through some misfortune and unforeseen circumstances. Then your life falls apart like a house of cards. Severe shock, anger, depression. Very quick to put the blame on the Lord. Forgetting: You are a human and He is God (6:10-11). You are the clay, He is the Potter. Easily forgetting that the clay can/may not criticise the potter. The clay can indeed place his cares into the hand of the potter, yes.
The problem behind it all, is that we as humans are always inclined to set the Lord and earthly goods OPPOSITE each other. EITHER the Lord OR money. EITHER the Lord OR sport. EITHER the Lord OR recreation. EITHER the Lord OR work. EITHER the Lord OR doctors and medication. So as if our earthly life is placed opposite to the Lord. As if our earthly life is bad or inferior in some way. As if the spiritual things are a step higher/holier. As if washing dishes is less holy than praying. See? We set things in opposition to one another. That is why we feel guilty when we think that we are not doing enough spiritual things and too many earthly things.
One should look very carefully at what is written in Ecclesiastes. He is not opposed to earthly blessings. He is not against money, possessions, work, enjoyment and recreation. What he is warning against is to not set these things in opposition to the Lord. Because then you do not enjoy them in Christ any longer. Then it (earthly life) becomes the centre of your life. Then everything revolves around you as human. Then you are dissatisfied and discontented.
You always find people who are of the opinion that a Christian may not enjoy the ordinary things in life. It is too earthly. Evil in a way. It is on a lower level than the spiritual things.
The Apostle Paul warns Timothy (1 Tim 4) that such people are hypocritical liars. They forbid the believers not to marry and enjoy food. It is too un-spiritual. They forget that the whole creation is the Lord’s gift to His children. He is standing central in the earthly things.
When He is standing in the centre of your life, then earthly things fall into their right place. Then it becomes gifts that you may enjoy. Then you are no longer a slave or enslaved.
You see, this entire passage (remember it is OT) is calling to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who lost all He had, even gave His life, to save God’s people. He who was prepared to become poor because His Father’s will was the most important thing in His life! And, because He is standing at the centre of your life, you can learn to enjoy the ordinary earthly things. And you are no longer a slave to your circumstances.
The message of this passage of Scripture is very simple. We can easily understand it. The Lord has made Himself King and Lord of a saved believer’s life, because He IS King. When we discover it in faith-rooted-in-His-Word, then we experience that He is King.
What happens then? Then we can enjoy life. Above all kinds of circumstances. Our house of cards does not tumble apart so easily when circumstances turn negative. Circumstances are not our god. It does not control our lives. Because, if Jesus Christ is King, then I can find joy also in a LITTLE or even in the midst of loss. That which I HAVE and that which I WANT then come into harmony with each other. Because I am joyful and content with the Lord and everything He provides. He is the fullness. To be in His glorious service is an indescribable wealth.
Do you see the surprising element that the Holy Spirit has built into these two chapters? An unexpected surprise which brings a complete turnabout to the sighing and groaning that overshadows the major part of these chapters.
I view it like this: Dark thunder clouds gathering in chapters 5&6… and suddenly the sun breaks through.
Look, any person’s house of cards will collapse when: you endeavour to move financially ahead in life, but you never reach the point of satisfaction (5:10), you find no peaceful sleep (5:12), you lose you wealth through unwise transactions and misfortune (5:14), you get the disturbing feeling in your heart that you have toiled for the wind (5:16), you realize that you will leave this world just as naked as you were when you came into it (5:15), darkness and bitterness eat at you (5:17), because you have accumulated wealth and strangers will enjoy it (6:2), your days on earth are like a shadow (6:12), and worst of all is that you yourself cannot plead your case with God (6:10).
And then, during all of that, the surprising sunlight of the Gospel breaks through: 5:18-20.
If you know the Lord, you have received a wonderful gift. You are in possession of His joy ABOVE all circumstances. You no longer live IN circumstances. The power of Jesus’s resurrection is simply stronger. A stillborn child is better off than you if you do not have that, even if you should live a 2000 years upon earth (6:3).
Can you see WHAT the ACTUAL gift from God is for us? His gift is that we can ENJOY what we have. It is about our disposition IN everything that happens to us. But that disposition is coupled to the living God.
I am not a slave of how much I have or how little I have. No, it is about what I do with what I have. What kind of person am I inside everything? I do not receive joy of life only once my bad circumstances change. Joy does not depend on a better income, better spouse, better circumstances, better vehicle, better home, better family circumstances.
A person who believes in Jesus Christ is not a prisoner/captive of life. Life does not have a grip. It is not well with you under the circumstances. It is well with you above the circumstances. Jesus’s wonderful resurrection from the grave has set us for ever and ever free from that enslavement.
Some people live only for weekends/ slaves of weekends. O, if Friday would only come. Other people live only for the next sporting event or for holidays. But they do not live NOW. The Lord Jesus’s deliverance enables us to live NOW. On a blue Monday. NOW when I am at the dentist or getting ready to undergo an operation or on the way to see the bank manager. NOW when I am so tired that a robot turning red makes me angry. These circumstances do not stand in opposition to the Lord! No, the Lord has disposed it like that and He gives me the victory and joy inside all of that. The wonderful thing that the risen Christ has done for me is that I may live NOW.
Joy of life is about what I do in/above my circumstances – my true identity. How I can be God’s person IN every situation. What I do, as a child of the King, with what I have and what I do not have. That which I am, and that which I am not.
Translated by Marthie Wilson