Ecclesiastes 8:9-9:18; 2 Corinthians 7:11-16; Psalms 49:1-9; Proverbs 14:32-33
OT: “Although a sinner does evil a hundred times and prolongs his life, I also know that it will go well with God-fearing people, for they are reverent before him. However, it will not go well with the wicked, and they will not lengthen their days like a shadow, for they are not reverent before God. There is a futility that is done on the earth: there are righteous people who get what the actions of the wicked deserve, and there are wicked people who get what the actions of the righteous deserve. I say that this too is futile… Indeed, I took all this to heart and explained it all: The righteous, the wise, and their works are in God’s hands. People don’t know whether to expect love or hate. Everything lies ahead of them. Everything is the same for everyone: There is one fate for the righteous and the wicked, for the good and the bad, for the clean and the unclean, for the one who sacrifices and the one who does not sacrifice. As it is for the good, so also it is for the sinner; as it is for the one who takes an oath, so also for the one who fears an oath.” (Ecclesiastes 8:12-14; 9:1-2 CSB)
Most of Solomon’s commentary throughout Ecclesiastes was in regards to life “under the sun…” life in the here and now. One of the truths that Solomon believed to be unjust – one of the things that made life under the sun futile, was that everyone suffers the same fate at the end of their life. It doesn’t matter how well you lived or how badly you lived, in the end, everyone will die. Your life could be full of sin and lived out selfishly for your own pleasure and desires, or you could live a completely righteous life, always considering others before yourself – in the end, both the wicked and righteous die. To make things worse, in this life, many times the wicked get the reward that the righteous deserve and the righteous get the reward that the wicked deserve. Sometime, because of a wicked person’s cheating and conniving, they end up living a long and prosperous life – and those who live selflessly end up living a short and meager life. None of that seemed fair to Solomon. It all seemed meaningless and futile. Why does it matter how you live your life if you end up with the same fate.
However, there is more to our lives than the life that we live “under the sun.” Though this present life may seem unjust and futile, the justice that comes at the end of our mortal lives is sure. Solomon knew that after our lives on earth are over, there is an eternal life-to-come. The after-life goes well for those who lived their lives in fear of God. However, it does not go well for the wicked. How we live our lives in the here and now, determines how we will live our lives for eternity. What seems unjust now, will not continue in injustice when this life is over. What seems like futility now, takes on meaning and purpose when we view it through the eyes of eternity. Once this life is over, we don’t have an opportunity for a do-over. We must choose now how we will live and Who we will serve. The sufferings of this life in the name of righteousness pale in comparison to the glory the righteous receive in the life-to-come. The pleasures of this world pale in comparison to the eternity of emptiness and lifelessness the wicked will receive in the life-to-come. What will the focus of your life be?
Prayer: Lord, though there are things that happen in this life that seem unfair or unjust… though there are things in this life that make no sense and can even cause me to question your goodness and faithfulness, I know that this life is not the end of the story. The life we live now is setting us up for our eternal future. Help me to live this life always with eternity in mind, committed to Your word, will and ways; and help me to not grow discouraged and jaded when things in this life do not turn out the way I expect. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.