Reading Assignment: Ecclesiastes 3:16-4:3
Did you understand what you read?
- It is obvious that there is wickedness in the world. Why doesn’t God remove it?
- Is it possible to show someone that man is different from the animals (i.e., has a soul)?
- Why does Solomon say that for some people, they are better off never being born?
- What can we do about the injustice in the world?
Injustice abounds in this wicked world. Why doesn’t God remove it? After all, an infinitely good God would not allow such evil to continue. This implies that we know what God ought to do. We already seen the fallacy of this, we are just finite beings. God lives in eternity (Eccl. 3:11). God will punish in his own time. There is a reason for the delay. First, God is testing us (James 1:2-4). Without opposition we would never grow into strong Christians, just as you cannot purify gold without fire (Zech. 13:9; Mal. 3:3). Secondly, our inability to prevent wickedness shows how lowly we are. If we compare God, humans, and animals we can see that humans are closer to animals. The gap between ourselves and God is huge.
Are we really different from the animals (Ps. 49)? Humans and animals both die; they are both buried. We cannot prove that humans have a spirit, since our spirits can’t be physically tested. Solomon concludes that it isn’t worth worrying about. We should live in the present and enjoy our labors. If we trust in God, the matter of whether we have a soul is already answered for us.
But we strayed from our original point. It is nice to talk about enjoying our work, but some people cannot do so. Some people are born into slavery. They have no choice in what they do. Some live under persecution. They suffer so much that you could claim that they are better off dead than living. You can see why Solomon concluded that it is better not be born at all than to see these horrors. It is truly unfortunate that Satan has destroyed many of the joys in this world. However, whatever state we find ourselves in, we must learn to be content (Phil. 4:11). Even if we find ourselves working for a cruel master, we need to give them good service (I Pet. 2:18-20; Eph. 6:5-8).
- When faced with extreme pain, some people decide to commit suicide, rather than to continue living in this world. Is suicide a solution to suffering?