The improbable truth

thHas it ever made anyone curious why the Bible questions its own answers? Take the book of Ecclesiastes, for instance — twelve chapters dedicated to the propagation of the meaninglessness of life. And this is not just the author having a bad hair day. This is an investment of a wise king’s entire life seeking the meaning of his existence. Every attempt to answer the big question is meticulously pursued, and with all the resources to make it legitimate. If Solomon wanted to pursue wealth, he had wealth to exceed the richest kings at the time. If he wanted to pursue pleasure, he had thousands of concubines at his bidding. And in his pursuit of wisdom, his wisdom was unparalleled in human history.

King Solomon was no armchair philosopher. He had the opportunity to try out each one of his solutions, and every time he came up with the same conclusion: “Meaningless, meaningless… Everything is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). And even when he does concede, in the end, that the only reasonable thing to do is to fear God and keep His commandments, it’s not like he’s ready to celebrate this final discovery (Ecclesiastes 12:13). In fact, it reads like a resignation. You finish this book and you want to go, “When’s the next Tony Robbins seminar? I need some cheering up!”

Actually, the fact that Ecclesiastes is in the Bible does two things for me. First, it gives me confidence that the rest of the Bible is true. If Christianity were a construct of the human mind, you wouldn’t find this stuff in its portfolio, that’s for sure. What propaganda features differing views? Who includes the opposing arguments in their literature, and even makes them look good? And yet the Bible declares life meaningless, it shows bad people having a good time and good people having a miserable time. The hero of the whole book dies a brutal death in the end, for heaven’s sake, and then He calls His followers to come and die with Him! Well, whoopee! Where do I sign up? I’m sorry, but to all those who say someone made up Christianity, I have to say, based on what? Certainly nothing I know of in human nature.

Secondly, it makes me look more deeply into things. Maybe the reason following Christ doesn’t magically make this life a party is because there is something more than this life to consider. And maybe Solomon was so old and spent by the time he finally got to it that he couldn’t really enjoy what was enjoyable about what he found. And maybe, just maybe, the reason God put his story there was for us to benefit from his life’s search, take his word for it, and start living where he left off.
Besides being wise himself, the Quester also taught others knowledge. He weighed, examined, and arranged many proverbs. The Quester did his best to find the right words and write the plain truth.

The words of the wise prod us to live well. They’re like nails hammered home, holding life together. They are given by God, the one Shepherd.

But regarding anything beyond this, dear friend, go easy. There’s no end to the publishing of books, and constant study wears you out so you’re no good for anything else. The last and final word is this:

Fear God.
Do what he tells you.

Ecclesiastes 12:9-13 (The Message)

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9 Responses to The improbable truth

  1. Andrew P. says:

    I’m not disputing your point, but with respect to Ecclesiastes, specifically, have you considered Tremper Longman’s explanation (in his commentary)? In brief, Longman suggests there are technical reasons to believe that only the very beginning and end of E. are actually God’s prescriptions, and that the bulk of the book is essentially a, “See, here’s all you can expect when you live without God” dissertation. I find Longman’s analysis to be quite compelling, and that that it, for the most part, explains E. (which can be extremely confusing) pretty well. At the least, I think his work is worthy of consideration.

  2. Meaghan-Margaret Evans says:

    Life is confusing. Thank you for today’s catch. It isn’t helping today for me.
    I call back tomorrow and see what’s going on. For me and my house, we will look to God
    For today, I don’t have any answers.
    It will be better tomorrow and if it isn’t it will be the next tomorrow and if it isn’t you run out of steam rest and let Him refresh you and you go back into the battle because we are Christian and it’s what we do. We never give up and we never give in.

  3. TimC says:

    I find Ecclesiates interesting because it looks at the things that people strive for in life. But people have a tendency to try to ignore God even though God is always there. And in everything, there is always a whole lot more than meets the eye. 2 Corinthians 4:18 “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

  4. greg Krejci says:

    He is sufficient for today. I am thankful !

  5. Pingback: Daily Download: August 29, 2013 (Will Smith wasn’t watching Miley, underrated sci-fi & shrimp boudin) | // Home of the blue shirt

  6. Great Catch, this one. Life can be hard. God offers no apologies. We still hold on.

  7. Pingback: Christianity Isn’t Afraid of Questions | Christianity 201

  8. John says:

    John, your messages speak to me, thank you. I have had two messages from Ecclesiastes today, and I think both yours and the other were from our God. Our God is sufficient for peace in our life, My job is to be thankful, and to fulfill the blessings He has given me to do. Amen.

  9. Pingback: Can we know everything? « Minkyweasel World

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