Message Text: Ecclesiastes 3:18-22
There is little doubt that King Solomon wanted his son, Rehoboam, to read his journal and learn from it, but I wonder if Solomon had any idea his journal would be read and studied for the next 3,000 years, right up until today. So far, we have learned how Solomon writes with a down-to-earth, hard-hitting, in-your-face, take-it-or-leave-it kind of realism. His quill is often dipped in the acid ink of futility and frustration and cynicism. Cynicism is calcified anger (Rachel Evans, Wholehearted Faith). Cynicism is your once-tender heart now calloused and hardened. Psychologists tell us it’s a defense mechanism to keep you from getting disappointed again.
Who or what can rescue us from cynicism? This sense of being jaded at the world all the time? A jaded preacher-king named Solomon asserts one primary truth – the Sovereignty of God. He says in so many ways: “God is in control.” Hands go up all over the room. "What about those who do pleasure and gratify the senses. Is God still in control Solomon?" Solomon shows you the hedonists lacks joy even though surrounded by pleasure. "What about those who build their lives on atheistic philosophy and scoff at God? Is God still in control Solomon?" Solomon shows you that you cannot devalue life without carrying guilt and regret? "What about the wrongdoer that never gets caught? What about the Hitlers, Stalins, Castro’s, Pol Pots? What about the truly selfless servants who never get acknowledged? Is God still in control Solomon?" "What about a humans and animals buried in the same dirt at the end of the day regardless of how they lived? Is God still in control now Solomon?”
One of the main arguments of Solomon’s book: only preparing to die will teach us how to live. Solomon doesn’t want you to desire death, fear death, or ignore death. He simply wants you to live in light of it. I want to persuade you that the only way we can talk about abundant joy is to talk about death. Only if you prepare to die can you really learn how to live. Here’s the irony: Being aware of death makes us more aware of life. What Solomon says here can be simplified by FOUR TRUTHS / PERSPECTIVES that will help you with learning to live by preparing to die. When he talks about death, he wants you to “Pay attention in life.” Time passes so quickly. Our time in this life is limited. If you stay jaded, that’s time you’ll never get back. You’re not going to be here forever. And so when we face the reality of death, it gives meaning to today. Solomon already mentioned the certainty of death in 2:12–23, and he will bring the subject up several times before he ends his book (4:8; 5:15–16; 6:6; 8:8; 9:2–3, 12; 12:7–8). Life, death, time, and eternity: these are the “ingredients” that make up our brief experience in this world, and they must not be ignored.
Life is a gift.
Death is sure.
Tomorrow is not promised.
God is always working.
With this understanding, what do you have to offer this cynical world? How can I stop being jaded?
The Hands-On Solution: Ordinary people doing ordinary things with Gospel intentionality.
The Eyes-Open Solution: Pay attention. Paying attention will give you a big heart and open hands and enable you to relish all the small things of life in deeply profound ways.
Is there a way out of this shadowy reflection found in Ecclesiastes 3:18-22? Leave God out, and you have no assurance of an afterlife. You throw out the Bible - God’s revelation and you’ve got nothing. If Jesus is not raised there is no way out of this text. May the somber words of this text drive us to Jesus.