December 3, 2015.
Daily Reading: Ecclesiastes 11-12.
Background: Ecclesiastes 9-10.
Concepts and Connections.
The preacher’s wisdom: As the book comes to a close, the preacher gives some practice wisdom for this life. Different interpretations of these proverb-like sayings have been given and thus what is commented here should not be taken as fact but rather as a starting point for further research and ideas. The preacher teaches us to cast our bread upon the waters, which many interpret to mean to do kindness in places that we do not expect gratitude in return, but rather because it it our duty, and we will find reward in many days, perhaps in the time to come. This can be parallel to Jesus teaching to do good deeds in secret, which will be seen by the Father (see Matthew 6:1-4). The preacher teaches us to use our riches to help different people as we can, for we do not know when calamity will strike and we need help. Rain comes and trees fall, and we cannot anticipate or change these things. Those who pay too much attention to anticipating these things will never get things done. The preacher emphasizes man’s ignorance here, as we do not know the work of God. As we do not know and cannot anticipate everything that will happen, our advise is to not let this stop us from doing our work, but rather to try different things, for we do not know which will prosper. Perhaps all will prosper. Let us rejoice in the light and good times, but not be ignorant of the lurking dark times. We should enjoy life and walk in the ways of our heart, but in a way that is pleasing to God, for He will bring all things into judgment. We are called to let go of anxiety and pain, for life is fleeting. Let us remember who we are and our lot in life.
1. Remembering the Creator in youth: The first, half of this chapter gives a practice lesson and a beautiful description of aging. We are told to remember our Creator in our youth, for as life progresses, this is not as much hope that we will remember Him if we are not doing so already. This is likely due to the preacher’s attitude thus far to the vanity of life and the troubles that age introduces. Then the preacher goes on to describe the aging process in metaphorical terms, such as the keepers of the house (hands), grinders (teeth), people who look through windows (eyes), blossoming almond tree (grey hair), ect. Each of these can be applied to aging, and we can see how the body degrades over time until it returns to the earth. Notice here that the Preacher says the spirit returns to God. The focus is turning from life under the sun, all of which is vanity, to life beyond the sun, or the spiritual. The lesson is clear up to this point. The meaning of life: Life is meaningless. Under the sun, that is.
2. The meaning of life: Before the conclusion of the whole matter and the true meaning of life is revealed, we get a look into the Preacher’s life, how he taught people knowledge and proverbs, studied carefully, sought words of delight and wrote words of truth. He encourages the harkening to the words of the wise, but warns against wearisome study beyond what is necessary. Finally, in a grand conclusion, the Preacher gives the meaning of life: Fear God and keep His commandments. He says that this is man’s all. Why? Because this life is not only the life under the sun. If it were so, life would indeed be meaningless. But rather, this life is the choice for the life that is to come, and the Lord will bring every deed into judgment. This is why it is our all to fear God and keep His commandments. We are His creation, loved by Him and sought by Him. That is our purpose. He is our meaning. Let us take into consideration the answer to the age old question. He is our answer.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Haggai 1-2.
Fear God and keep His commandments.