ECCLESIASTES-SERIES NR 9 (FINAL)
Scripture: Ecclesiastes 11 – 12
Theme: Confused with life but anchored in Christ
One may think that Ecclesiastes is very pessimistic in its outlook on life, but how surprising is Ecclesiastes 11, where the Holy Spirit through Ecclesiastes tells the youth: “Enjoy life”. Very strong encouragement for young people. Sounds almost a little dangerous, some people might say…
Is it not taking a risk to blatantly tell young people: “Enjoy life”? Will they not then go and do the wrong thing? Should one not rather say: “Commit your life to the Lord”? Rather leave out the “enjoy” part!
Certainly not! Because in the Bible enjoying life is not in opposition/contradiction to commitment to the Lord! As if the 2 things are enemies/opposites! The same Lord who created this earthly life perfect and gave it to us as a gift, desires for us to enjoy it, together with Him who gave it! It is not wrong or sinful.
But how should we enjoy the earthly fleshly life? Answer: AS A CHILD OF GOD! Look at 12:13 > The conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments. Serve the Lord in obedience. Or put differently: Obedience does not bring your salvation, but it is the proof that you have found salvation in the Lord. Obedience will always be the fruit of grace, the fruit of the rebirth.
We must not enjoy the earthly life in unbelief – and the Lord must stand aside. We should also not be a child of God and NOT enjoy the earthly life. No: AS child of God we should find joy in the ordinary daily earthly fleshly life: closely connected with the Lord and accountable to Him.
1 Closely connected to the Lord
One wonders instinctively whether Ecclesiastes does not contradict itself. How can it say something so fantastic positive as that believers must enjoy life, while he has already said so many times: “Everything is meaningless, a chasing after wind”.
Well, we should just take careful note of what is meant with: “a meaningless chasing after wind”. Nothing to do with pessimism. What is meant is simply that which all of us experience every day: i.e. that everything in life is so fleeting. Nothing is lasting, certain, permanent. Everything is temporal and soon gone. A nice day or a great holiday is over before you know it. Today you feel happy, tomorrow trouble and tears cast a dark shadow over the happiness of today. If you have investments, you have to invest it in more than one place because you do not know what disaster may come (11 verse 2).
Life consists of many disappointments and things we cannot fathom. We can for example not fathom how the human spirit of an unborn foetus enter his/her body when the foetus is still being formed in the mother’s womb (verse 11). It is only a wondrous work of the Creator God. Your human spirit cannot be formed out of physical entities that bind together! And yet: when the little person is born, he is body AND soul! The spirit enters the little body somehow! But it is unfathomable.
Life consists of numerous such unfathomable things.
And to cap it all: After everything was so great and I did my best to live a good life, death will come and cut off everything (verse 8). And then I again have nothing.
You see, if you look at life like that, everything LOOKS and FEELS meaningless. Then you may start wondering: “What am I living for? Is everything not just a chasing after wind?” Nothing is lasting and permanent. That is what the book Ecclesiastes is saying, and we all know that it is absolutely true. We know it from every day’s experience.
But, Ecclesiastes does not end there. He is saying that you can certainly find sense and meaning in life when you begin to see that life is a gift from God. There is a much greater world besides your and my small world. Yes, death shall come and cut everything off, but then you depart – if you truly know the Lord – for an eternal home (12 verse 5). Your spirit returns to God who gave it when you were still a foetus in the womb (12:7). There is an invisible eternal-dimension attached to our insignificant life. After this life you are not dead like a dog… That human spirit you have inside of you, is a gift from God.
And, after this life, your life returns to God. If you have lived your life without the Lord and have cast His wonderful gifts back at Him, you go to an eternal death – the Bible calls it the lake of fire – everlasting conscious punishment. If you have lived in faith out of the deliverance of the Lord Jesus’s cross, you go to the Lord’s everlasting home. As simple as that.
Who can therefore enjoy life? The person whose eternal future is determined en secured now already. Such a person’s life receives value and meaning and stability now already. While your eternal future is not secure, your life here is a see-saw ride. The moment your eternal destination is secured in Christ, your life here and now is filled with new dimensions.
Who can therefore enjoy life? The person who realise that life must be enjoyed in close connectedness with the Lord. Indeed it was our Lord Jesus who came to redeem us from a meaningless existence (1 Pet 1:18). By His resurrection He brought us hope of a life after death. As certain as it is that He rose from the grave, just as certain it is that there is a new heaven and a new earth. Even though the happy holiday fly by so quickly and it feels as if nothing is lasting! That is why Ecclesiastes says so blatantly direct:
ENJOY LIFE, you can but… in close connectedness to the Lord who gave the life. Find joy in life as a gift from God.. in connectedness with Him – but also…
2 With accountability to the Lord
Remember the Lord while you are young, before the time comes when you will say: “I have no need of it…” I think that there is sufficient statistical proof that shows that by far the most people who serve the Lord, got to know Him in childhood. The Lord’s number 1 strategy to bring people to salvation, is by the structure of the covenant and in the family worship.
The older one grows, the harder the crust around the heart becomes. This verse confirms it. There comes a time when people will say: “I am not really interested in the Lord’s salvation”. Therefore: “Remember the Lord in the days of your youth!” Do not imagine that you will perhaps have a deathbed repentance. By far, for most people such an opportunity never comes about.
But, can you hear the direct summons: Remember your Creator.. you are in other words responsible to the Lord for your life. He will demand an account from you. As it says in 11:9: “Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment “.
In other words, our lives are not a life of fate or coincidence. We live accountable to the Lord. And we must learn to take responsibility for our actions. We should not blame other people or circumstances for the things we do. How easy it is to hide behind others for our actions.
And it is the fault of this and that and such and such that my commitment in the church is so pathetic. I was forced to adjust my online tax return slightly, because of my circumstances… I could not do otherwise, I just had to swear…
No dear friend, YOU AND I are responsible for our actions. When we realise that, then we understand also that we have received atonement and forgiveness at Calvary. Because, as long as I push aside my responsibilities, I am also pushing aside my redemption, because I deny my guilt. Jesus did not atone for you and me (on the cross) for what other people/circumstances have done, but for what WE have done.
Find joy in life as a gift from God, but do it with responsibility towards the Lord. Remember your Creator while you are young. He does not become your Creator when you remember Him. He is your Creator, therefore: Remember Him. He does not bind Himself to you when you remember Him. No, He has bound Himself to you, therefore: Remember Him. He atoned for your sins on the cross, therefore: Remember Him. Do not go and waste your life where the Lord is absent. What does it help if you have a great visit with friends, but the Lord is standing outside? What good is that cool evening where the alcohol is flowing, but the Lord is standing outside?
Can you see what the judgment is about that the Lord will bring you to? He will not ask an account from us because we are enjoying life. He Himself gave it.
But, He demands an account when we do enjoy living a life not accountable to Him. When He, the Giver of everything, must stand in the shadows. When we think we are better off without Him when we are on holiday, or doing business, or visit, or when the church-bell rings…
Let us then find joy in life as children of the Lord who are delivered by the blood of Christ.
Translated by Marthie Wilson