Monday, May 7, 2012

Facing the Inevitability of Death

By David R. Ferguson
    Many people come to the conclusion that the Book of Ecclesiastes is pessimistic and cynical.  Why else would Solomon use the word "vanity" in relation to the good God has done if it was otherwise?
"And I applied my mind to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under Heaven; it is an unhappy business that God has given to the sons of men to be busy with.  I have seen everything that is done under the sun; and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.  (Ecclesiastes 1:13-14)
"There is nothing better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and find enjoyment in his toil.  This also, I saw, is from the hand of God; for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?  For to the man who pleases Him God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy; but to the sinner He gives the work of gathering and heaping, only to give to one who pleases God.  This also is vanity and a striving after wind."  (Ecclesiastes 2:24-26)
    I, for one, do not believe the Book of Ecclesiastes should be called pessimistic or even cynical.  Instead, a better appellation would be to describe it as simply brutally realistic.  Ecclesiastes makes the reader confront the full and dreadful significance of one's mortality.  Most people, whether or not they are religious, refuse to face what death really is.  But when you get right down to it, death is a calamity that nullifies all of the achievements of one's human existence.  Ecclesiastes strips away the myths we employ, either consciously or unconsciously, to shield ourselves from this stark fact.  In pointing out the dreadfulness and stark reality of death, the Book of Ecclesiastes helps us to see just how profound is our need for resurrection.  More simply stated, this wonderful book drives us to seek Jesus Christ.  The New Testament shares this perspective as well.  Death is not a friend or even a doorway as it is popularly espoused, but a terrible, terrible enemy.  It will be, however, a conquered enemy eventually.  Listen to how it is described by Paul and John:
"The last enemy to be destroyed is death.  When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: `Death is swallowed up in victory.  O death, where is thy victory?  O death, where is thy sting?'"  (1 Corinthians 15:26; 54-55)
"Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.  This is the second death, the lake of fire;"  (Revelation 20:14)
    Face the inevitability of the enemy, death, with confidence.  Face it with Jesus Christ!
    May the Lord bless you!

- David R. Ferguson preaches for the Lakeland Church of Christ in Mattoon, IL.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: 

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