Ecclesiastes 9:1-10

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, May 25, 2020 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

What is your destiny? When you’re asked that question, do you think of something that relates to your life here on earth, or your eternal destiny after this life? Perhaps you think of a certain job or career that you’re destined to have. Perhaps you feel depressed that you may be destined to end up alone. Or, perhaps you think of your destiny as living for eternity praising God.

In the section of Ecclesiastes that we’re looking at today (Ecclesiastes 9:1-10), the Teacher addresses the destiny of humankind. The Teacher first begins by examining the motives of the righteous people - they try to do what God wants them to do, even though they do not know whether the result will be good or bad (verse 1). If you claim to follow God, then you should be following what God commands of you, right? Often, we’re guilty of only doing what God commands when we think the outcome will be for our immediate benefit, but the wise should always follow what God says no matter what because they know that God knows more than even the wisest person ever will.

In verse 2, the Teacher reminds us that every person will share the same destiny of death. He’s written on this before. Whether you are righteous or unrighteous, whether you do certain religious practices or not, we’re all going to experience physical death at some point. He quotes Job 9:22 here: “It is all the same; that is why I say, ‘He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.’” Even Job, who God considered righteous, experienced death.

People often try to use their circumstances as evidence of God’s love. Do you feel like God loves you more when things go the way you want them to and life seems good? Do you feel like God loves you less when tragedies happen in your life? We as humans like to quantify things, and that’s a way we feel like we can quantify God’s love. But that is not how God’s love works. It’s not a reward system for doing good or something that is taken away as punishment for doing bad. God always loves us simply because He created us.

But it seems from this passage as though death is the final “reward” that everyone gets (verse 3), no matter how they live this life. You were a bad person? You’re going to die. You were a good person? You’re going to die. We all have the same destiny of dying a physical death. So when our hearts are naturally inclined toward evil, what’s the point of working harder to do good in this life?

This brings up the question to the Teacher of what is the real purpose of life? He reflects in verse 4 that anyone who is living should have hope. Even a person who seems to have an awful life is at least alive and can have hope for a better life, but when you’re dead, you lose that hope.

We see this contrast between living and dead played out in verses 5-6. Essentially, the living still have hope, even with the knowledge that they will die, while the dead do not know anything. We do not know what kind of consciousness we’ll have when we die, how the judgment will be played out, and what state we’ll be in for how long between this life and the end of this world. But we know that we can only have the rewards of this world while we’re still living in it. Anything that we have accumulated for ourselves becomes meaningless to us when we die, and even our reputation will fade away.

So, what should we do with that depressing thought? “Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart” (verse 7). God has given us things to enjoy in this world, so we should enjoy them while we are here. We should make the most of this life while we have it. We should enjoy each day as if it’s a special occasion (verse 8). We should enjoy this life, even if its days seem meaningless in the grand scheme of God’s plan (verse 9). If God has given us the gift of family, we should enjoy those people while they are here with us.

The summary of this passage comes in verse 10: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.” Whatever our purpose is in this life, we should do it to the best of our abilities while we’re able to, because that’s what God has created us to do. This is an echo of Jesus’ teaching in John 9:4: “As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.”

So, our destiny if really twofold: what we do on this earth, and where we end up after this life. Unlike the Teacher of Ecclesiastes, you and I are living in the world after Jesus Christ came in human form, lived His perfect life, then died and was raised so that we might be in good relationship with God once again. We have the certainty that this life is not all there is! We know that as believers in Jesus, this world is only the beginning. The things we do in this world are important to carry that message to others and to fulfill God’s mission in this world; that is our destiny here. But our ultimate destiny is to spend eternity in the heavenly paradise, praising God for the rest of our lives. Turn to Jesus in faith, and you can be certain that your destiny is not simply death but to live forever in perfection after this life is over.

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