A Voice in the Wilderness - Observations and Excursions of a Christian Zealot

Terry Walker's Weblog --- Occasional articles on the Christian Ethic

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Anti-Humanism --- An Ecclesiastes Way Of Thinking!

Of all the people who God used to write the Bible, I most relate to King Solomon. Certainly not because of his wealth, wisdom, power, prestige, or fame, but rather because he was given everything and he deeply pondered it all. Not only did he ponder, but he purposefully tested and sampled everything, even sin. So what better person to listen to than one who has tried it all? God gave Solomon his riches, his wisdom, his power, his kingdom, even all those idolatrous wives. Similarly, God has inclined me toward intense contemplation of the aspects of human existence, which leads me to question all the material goods that I possess, and the spiritual gifts that I received when I became spiritual. These gifts I did not earn or learn; I simply have them; they are God’s gift. But what for? What good are they? Have you ever meditated on what purpose God saved you, individually? Yes, for God’s glory, but how does He desire you to specifically glorify Him? What do you think God would have you fill your time on earth with? What is your Christian reason for existence? In Ecclesiastes, Solomon sincerely considered these same thoughts, and as King he had all that was necessary to put his thoughts into action. Solomon, the wisest created man ever to walk the face of the planet, considered every aspect of human endeavor, and determined that all was vanity.

Financial riches are vanity. Labor is vanity. Wisdom is vanity. Honor is vanity. Popularity is vanity. Folly is vanity. Pleasure is vanity. All is vanity.

So what is the point of human existence? Are we to strive to leave a legacy or perhaps to leave the world a better place? I don’t think so. For what can we do that God has not caused to be done. What have we gained that God has not given? And what do we possess on earth that death will not take away?

Certainly the intent of Solomon’s writing is not to say that human endeavor is pointless and that the epitome of a man’s earthly purpose; amounts to little more than the tasks of eating, drinking, and merriment! Nay! Such cannot be the case as his words are like a salve to my wounded soul. Like a bulwark against my own evil flesh, which desires to devour my will to do otherwise. They pierce my soul to relieve the infection of my evil motivations, releasing the oozing pungent aroma of self-glorification. Pride cannot stand against such empowered passages. Can there be any finer words for humanity to consume and contemplate than that which tells us that we are desperately inadequate, incapable and in need? Free at last, Free at last, I am finally free from dwelling on that which will not last.

God allowed no unremarkable passages into His Word, so consider if you will, the wonders of Ecclesiastes 7:1-6 A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death, than the day of one’s birth; better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for that is the end of all men; and the living will take it to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter; for by a sad countenance the heart is made better. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise than for a man to hear the song of fools. For like the crackling of thorns under a pot; so is the laughter of the fool. This also is vanity.

Solomon said he knew that whatever God does, it shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, And nothing taken from it. God does it, that men should fear before Him. That which is has already been, and what is to be, has already been; and God requires an account of what is past. (Ecclesiastes 3:14-15)

What can we glean from verses that are so contrary to our very natures? What these words speak so clearly to me is that I need not burden myself with the pursuit of earthly endeavors. If I am concerned much about myself, then I dwell little on God. This is not God’s concern for my life. From dust I came and to dust I will return, and my life is His for the taking. If whatever God does, He does forever, then He must want me to pursue that which will last forever. Is this the purpose of Christian humanity? Is it the purpose of a man, to be solely concerned with that which has eternal value and worth? I believe so!

As well I believe our lives would be radically more joyful, more peaceful, more productive and more holy if we had little concern for our earthly life, if we did not seek to cram every moment of our earthly existence with human endeavors that will but vanish as quickly as the heat emanating from our lifeless bodies.

What is a peace that surpasses your own understanding? Is it not a peace that really doesn’t care what your life circumstances are? Is it not a peace that scoffs at hardship and laughs in the face of consequences? Is it not a peace that is a result of having little concern of this life because your assurance, promises and rewards reside on the other side of your death? Halleluiah, praise be to God, these rewards last forever.

Solomon writes: What profit has the worker from that in which he labors? I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God. (Ecclesiastes 3:9-13)

Do you discern the simplicity of an Ecclesiastes way of life out of this verse? Where is the worry of riches? Where is the burden of selfish toil? Where is the wearisome study? I see joy, I see good works, I see a man who understands that all is a gift from God, and who knows his life is but a vapor that vanishes in the wind. And who understands that faith is required to follow God, Who alone knows from whence He came and to where He is going. But where is the vanity? Vanity has no place in an Ecclesiastes way of thinking.

As if we didn’t grasp it the first time Solomon again writes: Here is what I have seen: It is good and fitting for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life which God gives him; for it is his heritage. As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor—this is the gift of God. For he will not dwell unduly on the days of his life, because God keeps him busy with the joy of his heart. (Ecclesiastes 5:18-20)

There it is, the very foundation of the Ecclesiastes way of thinking. “For he will not dwell unduly on the days of his life.” Can you imagine the huge burden that can be left on the wayside of your life if you simply did not dwell unduly on the days of your life? If you simplified your life to the very basics of God’s intended purpose for your life, and did only what God keeps you busy doing, without regard for what you keep you busy doing! If God intends for you to do more, He will place the joy in your heart to do so.

Solomon wrote: Notice the way God does things; then fall into line. Don’t fight the ways of God, for who can straighten out what he has made crooked? (Ecclesiastes 7:11 (NLT))

Can life get any more simple than that? Notice the ways of God and fall into line. Determine His purpose for you, and do His will. If you find yourself without joy in what you are doing, then perhaps you are not the one who should be doing it. Instead simply keep busy with the joys of your heart, the joys that He placed there. And what pray tell might that be? What could this simplified, earthly purpose for man entail? I think a new Ecclesiastical way of life would entail little more than two human endeavors.
1. To develop a complete reverence for and a complete obedience to God.
2. And to completely understand your total incapability to do that without Christ Jesus as, not just Savior of, but also as Lord over your life.

Solomon concluded his entire search for man’s earthly purpose thusly: Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).

The two human endeavors would not only adequately fulfill these earthly requirements but will leave you well rewarded when your life’s work is brought into judgment. So it is my summation that our earthly purpose has little to do with our time on earth, but rather we are to seek that which lasts forever. If we are to strive, then strive in love for Christ. If we are to toil, then toil in joy for Christ. If we are to live at all, then we should live holy for Christ. But whatever God has placed a joy in your heart to do; do it with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength, because all else is vanity!

Brother Terry Walker
Providence Baptist Church
Greer, South Carolina