Another week has started, and another month almost finished. The acceleration of time continues to amaze me. But, there is a time for everything, we are reminded, and we need to live each moment as it comes, never looking back with nostalgia nor looking forward for the answer.
As we read through the Bible, we must be amazed that the book of Proverbs is immediately followed by Ecclesiastes. How different could they be? Proverbs has life figured out: learn wisdom, live with prudence, follow the rules, and you will have a long and prosperous life. We happily quote verses from Proverbs and rejoice in their wisdom. Then we turn the page and come to Ecclesiastes, apparently written by or inspired by, the same person. There we read: Ecclesiastes 8:14, contradicting Proverbs. Or what about wisdom, the inspiration of Proverbs, described by the Teacher as Ecclesiastes 1:18, and then concluding Ecclesiastes 2:13-14 and 6:12.
Then we remember that this book originated not during a time of despair and suffering, but during the golden age of prosperity in Israel. So we learn that despair originates in times of plenty rather than deprivation. It is those who have everything and still find no meaning who despair. The victims of concentration camps and persecution dare not despair, because only a stubborn faith in meaning keeps them alive. The modern disciples of despair were bred in the cafes of Paris, the coffee shops of Copenhagen, the luxury palaces of Beverly Hills. So a despairing book like Ecclesiastes will more likely rise from a golden age. Here we see the contrast with Job, we looked at before. They both cover the same themes, life’s unfairness, why suffering exists, why evil people prosper and good people suffer, but what a contrast they are. Ecclesiastes portrays meaninglessness and futility, whereas Job rings with betrayal, passion, and a cry for justice. The contrast between the anguish of unrelieved suffering and the decadent boredom of times of plenty, where so many dedicate their lives to pursuing the “quality of life”, the right to satisfy our pleasures, and nobody’s going to stop us. And the Teacher would say, “You’ll never succeed and you’ll always want more”. His conclusion is Ecclesiastes 7:15-18. Be good but not too good, wise but not too wise. But that is not all…
Meditate on these things, but bring everything to the Lord in prayer, remembering today
Kim Bong & Sin Wei
Charlene plus Ariah & Samuel