Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die!. This would appear to be the attitude of many young (and not so young) people nowadays. For us, as Christians however, it is hardly an advisable approach to life. It reflects an indifference to the belief that we will be judged on the way we behave during our life here on earth. However, this idea of enjoying the present is one advocated by the preacher in Ecclesiastes 8: 15. This is a less often read book of the bible but nevertheless one which contains some memorable passages such as ‘A time for everything’ (ch 3 v 1-8) and ‘Remember your creator (ch 12 v 1-8).
The writer of this book is referred to as the Preacher, son of David, king of Jerusalem. He takes a realistic view of life and stresses that we must live it according to divine wisdom which we can only find if we respect God and follow His laws. The writer believes in God’s omnipotence but feels that we can never know what God’s intentions are – he believes that the path to wisdom lies not in insisting on receiving explanations about things which are too difficult for us to understand but in asking God what He wants us to do and then doing it without question.
The writer gives us some good advice about living which is still relevant to us today. He says we should ‘fear God and keep His commandments’ (ch 12 v 13), we should reverence Him and never make any promises we do not intend to keep (ch 5 v 1-7), we should do good while we live (ch 3 v 12), work hard (ch 9 v 10) and delight in our work (ch 2 v 24).
Sadly, however, the writer of this book regarded everything in life as meaningless and futile. a ‘chasing after the wind’ but we must remember that he was writing in the years before Christ and His resurrection which brought the promise of eternal life.
In contrast with his pessimistic attitude then, we should rejoice that, in spite of the miseries and misfortunes of our daily life, we have hope. We can see a light at the end of the tunnel because that light which was sent to ‘lighten our darkness’ is our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It is only through faith in Him and through our belief that He has overcome death and given us eternal life that we can rise above the gloomy feelings of futility and meaninglessness experienced by the writer of the book of Ecclesiastes.