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Religion Disaster within the Bible (Do not Let Some 60s Hippies Inform You In any other case)


In 1965, the Byrds had a giant hit with a track written by Pete Seeger and based mostly on chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes: “Flip, Flip, Flip.”

All the things on earth has its time and place—its “season,” as the author (Qohelet) places it.

There’s a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to mourn, and a time to bop; a time for struggle, and a time for peace, and so on.

The Byrds’s tune options nice harmonies and offers off a feel-good-be-at-peace-with-the-world-Zen vibe. You realize. The ‘60s.

However these historic phrases are something however harmonious and peaceable. We’re seeing a religion disaster taking place proper in entrance of us.

The “seasons” of life Qohelet speaks of aren’t a comforting thought. Somewhat they’re utterly out of human management—delivery and loss of life; struggle and peace; mourning and dancing. These are issues that occur to us,prepared or not. We don’t select them.

Extra to the purpose, for Qohelet, the absurd inevitability of life is painful–much more so as a result of he blames God for setting issues up that method. (See passages like 1:15 and 1:12, the place Qohelet, very early on in his opening remarks, clues the readers in that God is an issue for him.)

Qohelet doesn’t imply that God orchestrates the very particulars of our lives, however that the occasions of our lives match right into a “grand design,” a macrostructure from cradle to grave that’s outdoors of our management.

Together with delivery and loss of life, struggle and peace, mourning and dancing, Qohelet lists a complete of 14 pairs of actions in verses 2-8, and none of them are geared toward making us really feel good.

And no matter notions one may nonetheless have that Qohelet is all about peace, love, and concord dissolve once we come to verses Sept. 11:

What achieve have the employees from their toil? I’ve seen the enterprise that God has given to everybody to be busy with. He has made all the things appropriate for its time; furthermore he has put a way of previous and future into their minds, but they can’t discover out what God has achieved from the start to the top.

The opening query is rhetorical. The reply is “nothing.”

There is no such thing as a “achieve” from all our toiling, from all of the busy-work God has tasked us with, as a result of on the finish of the day, God is the one who determines the “seasons” of life—or as he places it right here, “He has made all the things appropriate for its time” (“appropriate” that means one thing like “well-ordered” or “acceptable”). There’s nothing we are able to do to change that grand scheme.

Qohelet isn’t cheery. He’s despondent.

What’s life all about if our each day buzzing forwards and backwards doesn’t actually make a distinction?

And, as if to frustrate humanity additional, Qohelet tells us that God has made people acutely aware of “a way of previous and future.”

Human beings are sadly acutely aware of the passage of time; we are able to extrapolate on and on, each again in time and ahead. We’re beings able to reflecting on the good expanse of human existence.

However this capability to ponder the passage of time does us extra hurt than good. We nonetheless can’t discover out what God is as much as. We are able to’t wrap our arms round it.

God isn’t any pal to humanity, as Qohelet sees it. God orders and appoints occasions, from which there isn’t any escape, and laboring, which brings no revenue. That is simply the best way God desires it, and to high all of it off, he provides humanity the power to understand the expanse of time and the futility of all of it.

Nonetheless, Qohelet finds a method ahead, although right here we come to a different typically misunderstood passage in Ecclesiastes (3:12):

I do know that there’s nothing higher for them than to be joyful and luxuriate in themselves so long as they dwell. Furthermore, it’s God’s present that each one ought to eat and drink and have the benefit of all their toil.

There’s “nothing higher” than having fun with your self whilst you’re alive. This isn’t significantly pious, and it isn’t a silver lining.

It’s a confession of resignation: the perfect we are able to do is use some pleasure within the every-day.

Verse 14, as if Qohelet even delights in driving house a tough level, brings even additional readability to the overall level he has been making all through this passage.

I do know that no matter God does endures endlessly; nothing might be added to it, nor something taken from it; God has achieved this, so that each one ought to stand in awe earlier than him.

This isn’t a pious confession of God’s sovereignty, of us. He’s nonetheless pessimistic.

The irritating method God has arrange the world will final, relaxation assured, as we are able to’t add to or take away from one sq. inch of it. And God does this in order that we must always “stand in awe of him.” Simply again away and cower.

Qohelet provides right here his blunt, even unsettling, observations on what he thinks God is doing. Some may query why a guide like that is within the Bible, however I’m glad it’s. In it we hear our voices of unhappiness, despair, frustration, and doubt echoing again from 2500 years in the past.

The guide provides no fast treatment. It tells us, although, that life shouldn’t be at all times grand–and that we aren’t alone in saying so.

This publish is customized from my commentary on Ecclesiastes (Eerdmans, 2012)

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