As I rapidly move through my sixth decade of life, I have watched many people come and go, rise and fall, live and die. I have travelled to more than 20 countries on four continents, 25 U.S. states, lived in Europe, started businesses and ministries, been married for decades, raised four children, pastored a church for years, and written and published many writings. I have traversed, climbed and skied the mountains, hung from dizzying heights on ropes, swam in rivers, lakes and oceans, climbed 15 to 20 thousand trees, encountered demons, stared death in the face too many times to remember, and even been sprayed by a skunk. I have been loved as well as hated by those I thought were my friends. Much water has passed under the bridge called life, and now it is time to ponder it all.
Each of us has a story to tell, and as we grow older, we feel the need to share it, but why bother? Who will listen to it anyway? Most people are too wrapped in their own lives to care. Nevertheless, this all causes us to keep searching for meaning and purpose for our existence. And this compels me to return again and again to the Rock of Ages—the Bible, the Word of Elohim and to the source of the Truth that is above and way beyond each of us, for understanding and wisdom in order that I may more fully comprehend the complexities, that is, the whys and wherefores of life.
This all brings me to the book of Ecclesiastes (in Hebrew Kohelet meaning “the Preacher”) to hear from a wise man who had done it all. Here are my recent reflections on the wisdom found in this often overlooked and forgotten book of the Bible. Please enjoy and maybe something said will resonate and bless the reader. —Natan
Ecclesiastes 7:1–15, Practical keys to lessening the vanity or emptiness of life. So far the Preacher has taught us that life’s endeavors ultimately amount to vanity or nothingness. In spite of this, he has also taught us how to find some meaningful, though temporal, enjoyment in this physical life although all humans are in the endless cycles of this earthly prison of time and space. Now the preacher gives us some more practical wisdom on how to squeeze some meaning out of an ultimately meaningless existence (if this physical life is all that there is).
Ecclesiastes 7:16–17, Do not be overly. Moderation in all things is a key to happiness and will help to prolong life.
Ecclesiastes 7:18, He who fears Elohim. The fear of Elohim is a recurring them in Ecclesiastes. It is as if the Preacher is toying with the reader to provoke him to look beyond the ultimately meaningless existence of this physical life. He seems to be teasing us with the proverbial carrot on a stick in front of the mule routine. Despite the ultimated meaninglessness of life on this earth, in the Preacher’s mind there must be some over-arching benefit to both acknowledging and fearing the Creator. Is this perhaps a key that unlocks the iron door to the prison called life and is the only means to escape the empty vanity and meaninglessness of it all?
Ecclesiastes 7:19–24, More practical keys to lessening the vanity or emptiness of life.
Ecclesiastes 7:27–29, Here is what I found. The Preacher sums up what he has found to this point in diligently seeking to find the meaning of life. The more he searches, the deeper he drills down to find the answer to this perennial and universal questions as to the meaning of life, the more the answer still eludes him.
Elohim made man upright. Man was initially created upright and righteous, but the serpent in the tree conned man into disobeying the Creator’s laws, and man has been scheming to circumvent them ever since.
Ecclesiastes 8:1–17, More ponderings on the conundrums of life. In this chapter, the Preacher continues his musings trying to make sense of the injustices and ironies of life. But through it all he is certain of one thing: It will be well with those who fear Elohim, but it will not be well with the wicked (vv. 12–13). For certain, the Preacher knows that there is a wrong way and a right way to live one’s life, and that those who chose the path of good will be better off than those who do not. This may not seem like a stunning revelations, but a rather simple truth. But this truth escapes many people who blithely and thoughtlessly go about the business of life from day to day satiating the lust of the eyes and flesh and the pride of life and think nothing more about it.
So once again, the Preacher tosses into the mix a “God principle” to encourage us to take our eyes off of the mundaneness of the endless cycles life and begin to begin, if every so slightly, to fix our gaze heavenward.