Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Book of Ecclesiastes, part 3

After bewailing the vanity of life and arguing that there is nothing better than to be happy and do good, Solomon continues in chapter 9 of Ecclesiastes:
 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.
Time and chance – that’s an interesting translation. The original Hebrew has “the time of mischance comes to us all” meaning that we all die. “Mischance” was a euphemism for death. Yet wise old Solomon wasn’t completely sold on hopelessness. His conclusion finishes out the book. Read 12: 13, 14:
13 Now all has been heard;
   here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
   for this is the duty of all mankind.
14 For God will bring every deed into judgment,
   including every hidden thing,
   whether it is good or evil.
Whew! That will sober you up.
Ecclesiastes is often called the most pessimistic book in the Bible. Why did God allow such a biting discourse on meaninglessness, futility and pessimism in His Holy Word? Hmm, could it be so it would stand as a contrasting view to the hopeful optimism of the New Testament gospel of John?

Ecclesiastes is the original source for phrases like “the sun also rises” and “there’s nothing new under the sun”. In fact, the word sun is found more in this book than any other. There are 32 verses in Ecclesiastes that contain one or more instances of this word. Every chapter in Ecclesiastes contains at least one and as many as five verses with the word “sun”.

(Ecclesiastes, parts 1 - 3 taken from Crossing the Scriptures)

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