“Hevel, Hevel, Hevel” says Qoheleth
The book of Ecclesiastes, also known as Qoheleth (The Preacher), the Hebrew title, after its primary speaker is of significance for all of us in this time of pandemic. It is seldom preached on in churches and I don’t know how often people read through it at home. The most well know part of the book is 3:1-8 in which we have opposing seasons of life laid out to remind us of our finitude.
Science has coined a name for this “entropy” which means everything is moving toward breaking down, toward disorder. You can’t unscramble eggs or buildings don’t reassemble themselves they fall apart over time as examples.
Everything is, in the end, finite, tenuous, ephemeral—all possible renderings of the Hebrew word hevel, usually translated “vanity,” a term that Qoheleth is particularly fond of.
Qoheleth seems to be very irritated that death is the great leveler. No matter your station in life you will die, and you can’t take any of your material possessions with you. The Egyptians tried and we are still digging up their artifacts. Some here in the US have even been buried in their cars, motorcycles etc.
All of us encounter our limitations every day and we are dying daily just as we are losing parts of our spiritual selves, our sinful selves.
In this pandemic which it becomes clearer by the day God let it happen to accomplish many things just as he has allowed such disasters in human history over the past 2000 years or more. Have you noticed as you look across humanity’s past how we always build up to great sin and apostasy which God must respond to in some way? We can’t help ourselves; sin is endemic and inevitable. That’s why utopia is a false flag, a Satanic ploy to bypass God and do it our way. We try again to become our own God’s and it never works.
Qoheleth or The Preacher is saying the world escapes our control and eludes even the best minds, we only get so far. The world and our lives cannot be mastered to suit our desires. Life is gift not gain.
We are always searching for absolute novelty that really does not exist. Just think about this
Sometimes there are no answers, and we may not be able to help everyone or fix everything. All of us have a certain amount ambition and sometimes that ambition hurts other people. God is also concerned about the oppressor in all situations across history, yes even the evil people because God does not want any to perish. All our striving, toiling, working hard is all motivated by each of us. But what about the people around us? What are their needs?
We must work at being a giver and not a getter. We battle two extremes idle laziness and maniac busyness. Laziness says we dislike our neighbors. The other extreme is frantic, manic busyness. We live under the delusion if we work extremely hard, we will be successful enough tomorrow to find time to read the bible or be with the family.
Remember tomorrow will take care of itself. Right now all we have is the present, so we must learn to live in the NOW. Tomorrow we may die and in this time of the pandemic death is closer for most of us than it has ever been.
You see none of us have a legacy to leave, Christ is our legacy. So stop chasing the wind. Tomorrow may not be better; you may get sick or die.
Miroslav Volf examines the relationship through the Gospel and Christ of the oppressed and the oppressor in his book Exclusion & Embrace.
He points out if we look at the “Rite of Reconciliation” from post-apartheid South African churches, which works from 1 John 1:8 into a list of sins by both perpetrators and victims. Instead of pretending that the wrongdoing flowed only in one direction, the model of cyclical and mutually reinforcing sin is suggested. We must be skeptical of dividing a world of sinners into just and unjust sides: “every construction of innocence and guilt partakes in the corruption of the one undertaking the construction…. Solidarity in sin underscores that no salvation can be expected from an approach that rests fundamentally on the moral assignment of blame and innocence” (83-84). He says that this follows a robust understanding of repentance–it requires that we “refuse to explain our behavior and accuse others, and simply take our wrongdoing upon ourselves” (119). It means giving up our exclusive story, our narrative. The repentance of the cross, truly brings the self to die, forgoing any claims of victimhood. We often mistakenly make repentance a matter of the individual rather than the social arena, whereas Volf would have us take seriously the social implications of a doctrine of “solidarity in sin.”
The gospel not only can be but even must be a concrete social strategy, apart from which “no [social] salvation can be expected”.
Can we make the Gospel a part of our social strategy without trying to create a Christian Nation?
Our lives inevitably come to an end, even though we tend to live in denial. Qoheleth also points out; it’s all of humanity broadly conceived that ends. The Institutions we take for granted come to an end. Even the great forests and mountains can and have come to an end. Look back at history as economies, governments, nations, and states, all these end as a matter of course.
America will one day end.
If you are very materialistic the one way to kill it at the root is to spend your money on others. Give it away on a regular basis gladly and generously as you are able. The Preacher lets us know that the value of our lives is not in what we earn its in whom you relate to.
When we get to Ecclesiastes 5, we are told, “all is not lost.” You see even though we will never be able to read the world or understand the complex world and the cosmos, yet we can read The Bible and we can understand it. While we read it “God speaks to us through the Holy Spirit.
The Preacher reminds us that for every duty or responsibility we have toward anyone we have toward God above all else. So when we fear our Lord, we are made wise because it teaches us to live life on our knees, we are humbled, and God is exalted as our creator who knows all things and who knows what is best.
Your death and judgement lie ahead.
Philippians 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.