Ecclesiastes: 11:7-10: The Now and Then

Read: Ecclesiastes: 11:7-10

The analogy of light is used a number of places in scriptures as a metaphor for life and truth and darkness as metaphor for death and deceit. The Preacher invokes light here to describe life. In the same manner in which people enjoy the bright of day, so one should enjoy the light of life. The Preacher seems vexed by the notion of aging and passing on. But at the same time, he calls youth vanity too. He is not saying that youth and life are vain in and of themselves, rather that they are fleeting – not lasting – thereby, in the Preacher’s judgment, vain. But in spite of this, the Preacher encourages one to delight in life and to follow one’s hearts desires all the while keeping them in check because God will call all one does into judgment. The Preacher is advising his readers to be mindful of the future because of judgment, but live in the moment too. One should not be consumed with preparing for the future not should one be oblivious to it either. Rather a healthy balance is necessary. One should plan to help mitigate uncertain calamity (Proverbs 6:6-15, Proverbs 16:1-4). But at the same time tells people to not “worry” about the future, that is “μεριμνησητε” which means to be anxious and consumed with planning of about the future (Matthew 6:25-34).

At the end of days, when all is called into judgment, God will hold ever person accountable for what one has done. More so that delighting in the pleasantries of the world, one will find the most satisfaction in God. The Preacher devoted a great deal of Ecclesiastes talking about how he pursued a great number of things, but at the end of his life, he was left wanting more than the world had to offer. On the other hand, the Psalms are replete about how God satisfies the soul (Psalm 63:5, Psalm 65:4, Psalm 103:5, Psalm 107:9, Psalm 145:16). Psalm 107 in particular talks about how God satisfies any number of things. Jesus when talking at the woman at the well in John 4 contrasts water drawn from a well – a laborious task – compared to water from a spring. He likens himself to the spring water, saying that whoever drinks his “living water” will never thirst again (John 14:14). Orienting one’s life around something that can satisfy eternally is infinitely better than orienting one’s life around something that leaves one wanting more.

When Jesus calls all things into judgment, there will be those who present a life after vain pursuits and there will be those who present a life focused on eternal pursuits. The one whose work was to dedicated to eternal matters will have lasting and more permanent results and will be blessed beyond measure by the one who can satisfy. If one wants to prepare for the one would do well to live a life in light of judgment and delighting in doing thing in the present that have eternal implications, namely pursuing God and obeying his commandments.

Lord, help me to focus matters in the present that have eternal value!

Ecclesiastes 6: Nothing Satisfies

Read: Ecclesiastes 6

Some tough words come from the Preacher concerning life. He has spent the previous five chapters of the book speaking for various matters, and here the preacher sums them all up with an overarching conclusion: everyone dies, so no one person is better off than the other when it comes to whatever one has obtained or been given otherwise. The list would include all sorts of things: friends, family, wealth, wisdom, work, status, and pleasures. The Preacher also sees a grievous evil when one has much and is unable to enjoy it. What the Preacher is calling “evil” should not be understood to be evil in the sense of things gone wrong, but rather the inopportunity therein. The “evil” is not necessarily because God is playing tricks on man because the reason is not given. All that can be said is something apparently right about this, and is, in the judgment of man, evil. It is coupled with meaninglessness – that which is empty and leads nowhere. These sorts of pursuits are the kind of pursuits that man chases after for some other reason than the fear of the Lord. In all things, these pursuits do not satisfy, leaving one longing for more.

Blaise Pascal (for whom I’m named) once said,

What is it then that this desire and this inability proclaim to us, but that there was once in man a true happiness of which there now remain to him only the mark and empty trace, which he in vain tries to fill from all his surroundings, seeking from things absent the help he does not obtain in things present? But these are all inadequate, because the infinite abyss can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is to say, only by God Himself (Pensees #425).

These words resonate with what the Preacher had already made a case for concerning the thing that man has his heart set on: eternity (Ecclesiastes 3:9-15). Man desires things he himself cannot obtain. That which is eternal cannot be grasped by that which is finite by any stretch. God work endures and cannot be undone or added to. For this reason, only God cannot satisfy the longings of man, whose hearts long for eternity.

In the end, there will be no more pain, no more suffering, no more tears (Revelation 21:4). All that stands in contrast to what men desire from eternity will be satisfied in Jesus. When Jesus says he came to that men may have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10). God has set the hearts of man on eternity to that they would fear him – that is trust him. The provision that God made to satisfy this is Jesus, who was God in the flesh. There can be no greater satisfaction than that which comes from the maker of the universe! The Preacher lamented many things because all these things were pursuits that one has to leave when one departs this world. But for those who have faith and pursue him with their lives will be satisfied!

Lord, you and only you can satisfy my longing heart!

Ecclesiastes 1:1-11: Can’t Get No Satisfaction

Read Ecclesiastes 1:1-11

Ecclesiates waste no time declaring that everything is “vanity”. The world “vanity” in the Hebrew is “הֶבל”, Pronounced “hebel”. The word carries with it the idea of emptiness and meaninglessness in the manner of things that go nowhere or things that are vacuous of content. The writer declares that the work of man is of no value because it is like this. The author then reflects on the circular nature of things. Generations giving rise to the next, the way the seasons come and go, and the way that water runs to the sea and goes back again.

He also notes that the all is worrisome and nothing satisfies man so long as many toils, noting that there is nothing new under the sun. The old is forgotten and recalled as new, but eventually, like all things, the novelty wears off and the whatever the new thing was becomes memory, then fade out of memory altogether. When whatever the resurfaces, it appears new, but in reality is the same old stuff, just a different day.

This circular nature of life ultimately, as the writer notes, leaves one weary, wanting more, unsatisfied with life. Jesus says that the only thing that can really ever satisfy one’s desire is Jesus himself. He says in John 4:13-14 that the one who drinks from the living water that he offers will never thirst again. Also in Matthew 5:6 that the one who hungers and thirsts for righteousness will be satisfied. Ultimate satisfaction can only come from Jesus, and as the writer of Ecclesiastes notes, the best thing a man can do is fear the Lord and keep his commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13). This sort is consistent with what Jesus said would satisfy, as only he can do!

Lord, help me find my satisfaction in you.