Monday, August 30, 2010

Who Knows?

Week 5 of a series on the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes

Text: 3:15-4:3


From the very start of Ecclesiastes, the Preacher declares, “All is vanity” (1:2). This is his evaluation of life “under the sun.” Life under the sun could be described as life devoted to created things rather than the Creator. “Although [mankind] knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. [...] They exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:21, 25). This kind of life, in the end, is meaningless.

Man is constantly laboring for “profit,” but he is never satisfied. He will always search for “something more” (more money, more pleasure, more time, etc.). Life under the sun is full of vanity, but life through the Son is full of hope. There is “something more” through faith in Jesus Christ.

In 3:16-4:3, The Preacher complains about two problems he sees “under the sun”:
  • Injustice. Moreover, I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, even there was wickedness, and in the place of righteousness, even there was wickedness (3:16).
  • Oppression. Again I saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them (4:1).


For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity. All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return (3:19-20).

Are we just like the animals? No. (But the more we get away from God’s will, the more we behave like animals—survival of the fittest.) Humans were created in God’s image and were commanded to have dominion over the animals (Genesis 1:27-28).

Humans and animals are alike in one way: both die.

After Adam and Eve sinned, God said to Adam, “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19).

Death presents us with two big questions:
  • Will we live to see justice?
  • Will we live after death?
We can’t see what happens after death. When a person dies, we can’t tell (with our senses) what has happened. Is that the end? Or has the spirit left the body to go somewhere else?


“Who knows?” vs. “I tell you the truth.”

Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth? (3:21).

“I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man. Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned” (John 5:25-27 NIV).

Jesus declares that there will be:
  • Resurrection
  • Final judgment
“It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

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