The End of the Matter

Ecclesiastes 11:7-12:14

I thought that I would cover the end of the matter from two points of view; first from Solomon’s and then from the view of a Christian. Since this is fairly obvious, I hope that you’ll read the passage, and then come back for a few reflections on it.

As I think about what the Teacher has taught us in Ecclesiastes, it occurs to me that the great majority of Americans today are too young to remember the day that President Kennedy was killed; but I remember it vividly. Most of us are too young to remember when Dr. King told us of his dream; but I was transfixed by it. Most of us are too young to have known a time when parents would have their children walk a mile or more to school every day in safety, but from the 1st grade forward I walked more than a mile down a busy city street to school, along with all of the other kids, and nobody had cause to worry. Likewise, I would imagine that most Englishmen alive today are too young to remember when their Queen was young.

All of us who have these memories can tell the young that in the blink of an eye, your youth will be gone, as will we be.

Enjoy your brief youth; make good use of your time while you can. You are free to do what you desire; who knows? Perhaps you will live in a palace one day! But remember this: Naked you came into this world, and naked you will leave it. All of the wealth you manage to acquire will mean nothing in the end. All of your fun and thrills will get you nowhere, for in the end you, like the rest of us will become old and die. And then…?

Judgment.

Enjoy this life as best you can, but remember God and keep His commands, for this life only lasts so long, and you have a date with destiny.

Essentially, this is Solomon’s point in this whole book. Yet as wise as this is, much has changed since his time; let’s discuss briefly  what those changes mean for us.

 

Reflecting upon the end of the matter as Solomon stated it, life under the sun now is about what it was at the time Solomon wrote his book: Meaningless! When our time on earth is completed, we will die and be forgotten by those who come after us; a chasing of the wind.

Even so, something has changed since Solomon lived and wrote: Messiah came and accomplished His work. Because of what Jesus has done for us, we have the option of forgiveness of our sins and the gift of eternal life, things that the old Law did not provide. This is all obvious to a Christian, but what about our lives under the sun; can we possibly find meaning that the Teacher couldn’t find even with his great wisdom?

Yes, there is very certainly meaning in this life under the sun that was not available to Solomon, because something else changed as a result of Messiah’s work on that cross, the re-establishment of fellowship. “Fellowship” is usually not a term associated with salvation, but for the life of me, I don’t see why. Fellowship was God’s purpose for creating Mankind in the first place, and we see it clearly in the old Genesis story. Recall that while Adam and Eve were running around the garden naked together, they had direct personal access to God; they literally spoke together. There was nothing in between them and God, either literally or figuratively, and they had relationship with Him. God gave them dominion over the earth, creating what we might call a sort of partnership in which they served God’s purpose as stewards of His Creation on earth. Thus, they had relationship and purpose in common with God, and relationship + purpose is what the word “fellowship” means. When Jesus completed His work on earth, the relationship was restored through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and once again, Mankind can have direct, unfettered access to God with nothing standing between them, either literally or figuratively.

After Jesus arose from the grave He gave a command, His last, which is found in Matthew 28:18-20 that we should make disciples, and in doing so, He gave us His purpose, for that was why He came to earth in the first place. Thus, in Christ, we have relationship and purpose: Fellowship. To the extent that we serve His purpose, we live meaningful lives, even while we are “under the sun.” Even better, we have the hope of eternity with Him; therefore as Christians, who follow Jesus Christ in this life, life need not be entirely a matter of chasing the wind.

This little equation brings us to one other consideration. We know what parts of this life are meaningless and which part of this life is meaningful: How will we spend our remaining time here under the sun? Will we chase the wind, or will we serve His purpose?

Ah yes, dear reader, that challenge is what makes this adventure a most excellent one!

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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2 Responses to The End of the Matter

  1. Citizen Tom says:

    Definitely a puzzling book. I think that is why some people don’t think it belongs in the Bible. The first time I read it I got everything backwards. That’s why I have spent a fair amount of time studying it. I am still trying to untwist my poor brain.

    Consider what you said at the beginning.

    We need to note the expression “under the sun” and understand that it tells us the point of view from which the author is speaking: life “under the sun,” here on earth, the natural state of things without God. (from https://lifereference.wordpress.com/2017/08/24/ecclesiastes-the-prologue-3/)

    I think your observation about a restoration of fellowship with God is very important. Had not looked at it quite that way before, but with the Holy Spirit available to those who desire it we have something Solomon did not have. So it seems to me you are basically correct, but I think you have forgotten how you explained “under the sun.” If I understand the meaning of life “under the sun” correctly, I don’t think that life “under the sun” can be anything be meaningless. It does not include God. That is the main thing the phrase “under the sun” is getting at. “Under the sun” does not just mean life in the here and now in bodies of flesh and blood. Life “under the sun” does not include God.

    Consider this quote.

    If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. — by C. S. Lewis

    When we live life under the sun, we are thinking too much of this world, not the next.

    I think Solomon understood that life was meaningless if we lived it “under the sun” without God. I don’t think that has changed, and that is what makes the book relevant to us. Since that phrase, “under the sun,” is so important to understanding book, that is why I mention it. if we live “under the sun,” without God, our lives will be meaningless too. I have tried. Not good.

    To serve our Lord, we too must live lives under God, not under the sun.

    Thank you for an interest commentary and that last observation about the importance of fellowship with our Lord.

    • Don Merritt says:

      Thanks tom. I quite with you, and I think we are both saying the same thing here. Life “under the sun” without God is indeed meaningless both in Solomon’s day and in ours. Yet in our time, having God so near, so available to live under the sun in that sense is not only meaningless, it’s tragic. How often we can get so caught up in the here and now, and forget that God is right there!

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