Reading Assignment: Ecclesiastes 8:10-9:12
Did you understand what you read?
- Why do people continue to sin?
- What is the relationship between sin and the length of one's life?
- What is the relationship between things that happen to people (blessings, problems) and a person's righteousness?
- Referring to the answers to questions 2 and 3, what should a person do?
- If a person is granted great wisdom, can they learn everything about God's creation? Why or why not?
- What is the difference between a righteous person's and a wicked person's view of death?
- Why are some people able to win in competitions, win battles, have plenty to eat, have much wealth, or are popular?
The wicked die. Even those who once were righteous die (Ezek. 18:23-26). Yet people continue in sin because they think that they can get away with it. They do wrong and God does not strike them dead, so they conclude that there is no punishment for sin. However, physical death is not a punishment for sin. A wicked man may live a long life, but it doesn't mean that punishment is not awaiting for him. At the same time, we need to remember that being wicked won't guarantee a long life. The length of a person's life is totally unrelated to the moral state of the person. Even if your life is relatively long, it is still short in duration (James 1:9-11, 4:13-15).
Another thing we need to realize is that bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people. The events that happen to us in our lives are not related to our moral state. Consider Job, he lived a prosperous life until Satan decided to try to turn him from God. The evil that befell was not due to some sin that Job committed, though his friends were sure that must have been the case. Let us not fall into the same trap. Rather as Christians we need to see afflictions as a chance to grow stronger for the Lord (Ps. 119:67, II Cor. 4:17, Heb. 12:11).
Enjoy what you have, because you can't directly change things. You can apply yourself to learning, but even if you stayed up day and night you could not learn everything there is to learn in a single lifetime. Some things cannot be learned because God chooses to keep them hidden. Solomon tried to learn some of these things, but even with his great wisdom he was unable to make headway. Hence, we need to put our trust in God because he is control of our lives. Some topics, like love and hate, cannot be learned from observing the world. God's word is the only good source.
Events happen to all people alike. In other words, for any given event, there is an equal chance that it could occur to you. It doesn't matter if you are good or evil. One thing is guaranteed to happen to all people - death (Heb. 9:27). The only one with hope is the living (i.e., the righteous). It is better to be righteous and timid than wicked and bold. Righteous people understand death, the wicked do not. Pity the wicked person, because he has nothing to look forward to. Solomon's advice to the righteous is to enjoy life and don't forsake doing good.
With a firm understanding of death, let us now fully enjoy life. Life in this world is short, so we need to make the best of it with what we have - best, that is, in God's view of the phrase. Work hard at your chosen profession. Act as if God is your boss. Remember that once you are dead, you can no longer do God's work, such as teaching others about God.
Why do some win in competitions, win battles, have plenty to eat, have wealth, or are popular? It is all due to circumstances. In other words, those things that people strive after cannot be gained by skill or hard work. It comes to people by chance. Just because a person has one or more of these things today, does not guarantee that they will remain with him. We never know when evil times will befall us.
- Are you still marking the "good" passages in Ecclesiastes?
- List some other topics that cannot be learned correctly from observing this world.
- If you knew that you only had one more year to live, what would you do differently than you are doing now?