Read Ecclesiastes 9
A Common Destiny for All
9 So I reflected on all this and concluded that the righteous and the wise and what they do are in God’s hands, but no one knows whether love or hate awaits them. 2 All share a common destiny—the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad, the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not.
As it is with the good,
so with the sinful;
as it is with those who take oaths,
so with those who are afraid to take them.
3 This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of people, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead. 4 Anyone who is among the living has hope—even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!
5 For the living know that they will die,
but the dead know nothing;
they have no further reward,
and even their name is forgotten.
6 Their love, their hate
and their jealousy have long since vanished;
never again will they have a part
in anything that happens under the sun.
7 Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. 8 Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. 9 Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.
11 I have seen something else under the sun:
The race is not to the swift
or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise
or wealth to the brilliant
or favor to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all.
12 Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come:
As fish are caught in a cruel net,
or birds are taken in a snare,
so people are trapped by evil times
that fall unexpectedly upon them.
Wisdom Better Than Folly
13 I also saw under the sun this example of wisdom that greatly impressed me: 14 There was once a small city with only a few people in it. And a powerful king came against it, surrounded it and built huge siege works against it. 15 Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom. But nobody remembered that poor man. 16 So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.” But the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are no longer heeded.
17 The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded
than the shouts of a ruler of fools.
18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war,
but one sinner destroys much good.
For Solomon, the worst part of life under the sun is that the same fate awaits every person.
“All share a common destiny—the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad, the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not…this is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: the same destiny overtakes all.” (v. 2-3) Whether you are good or bad, either righteous or unrighteous, whether you offer sacrifices or you don’t, you will die. Death comes for us all. Therefore, since we are all going to die anyway, Solomon’s advice for the reader here is simple: make the most of the life you have while you have it.
As the reader, it’s important to remember that Solomon was describing “life under the sun”—aka, life without God. Ecclesiastes is an apologetic work impressing the importance of faith by showing how meaningless life is without faith. So meaningless, in fact, that the way you live has no bearing on your end fate. And since the way you live doesn’t affect the fact that you will die, you might as well do whatever you want in the meantime.
This would be disheartening if, as believers, we didn’t know the other side of the story. Death might come for us all, but for those of us who are in Christ Jesus, we get to live forever with God in Heaven. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26) Jesus, by defeating death on the cross, gives believers the opportunity to live forever with Him, beginning now.
Therefore, because Christ defeated death, how we live here on Earth matters. For starters, we must make the decision to believe in Christ; that decision affects everything. Once we become believers and know our future is secured, we are tasked with the mission of sharing this Good News with everyone around us. Our friends, family members, neighbors, and coworkers are living life with the depressing “under the sun” mentality. How exciting that God can use us to show others the meaning and joy that comes from living life with the Son instead!
- Jesus followed His statement in John 11 with the question, “Do you believe this?” An important place for us to start today is with that same question. Do you believe that Jesus is the resurrection and the life?
- Contrast life lived “under the sun” and life lived “with the Son.” Besides eternity in Heaven, what does life with Jesus offer us in this life?
- Who around you is living with a fatalistic, “under the sun” mentality? Spend five minutes praying for them. How can you share the Good News with them this week?
Father, thank You for giving me hope and a future. Thank You not only for saving me and providing me an eternal home with You in Heaven, but also for giving me an abundant life here on earth. Please help me to make every minute of my life here on earth matter for Your Kingdom’s purposes. Help me show those around me what life lived with You looks like. May they experience You and be drawn into a relationship with You so that their lives have meaning and joy. Help me not keep this Good News for myself. I love You, Amen.
Harris Creek Sermon
Here is the sermon from Harris Creek’s Ecclesiastes series based on Ecclesiastes 8 “The Search for Meaning: Live Like You’re Dying”.
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