“What Is Man?” – Ecclesiastes 3:12-22

November 10th, 2013

Ecclesiastes 3:12-22

“What Is Man?”

 Download Mp3

Bible Memory Verse for the WeekWhen Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”  — John 19:5

                                                                       

The question to be answered is . . . Out of the hundreds of themes that could be derived from this text, what does Solomon have to say about mankind?

 

Answer:  Solomon is showing us that without God we are mere animals, destined to the same fate and oblivion to which animals are ignorantly headed.   God created mankind to be the pinnacle of his Creation:  created in His image, endued with His Spirit, engifted so as to be able to commune with His Creator, judicate like his Creator, create like his Creator and love as His Creator is love.  Instead, mankind, separated from God, has Fallen to the state of a mere animal. 

 

There are fundamentally four questions that every thinking human being must answer: the questions of origin, meaning, morality, and destiny.  How did life come to be in the first place?  To what purpose is my life?  How may I choose between right and wrong?  What happens to me when I die?  When these questions are individually answered, the answers must be seen to correspond with reality.  These answers are then collectively tested for coherence, that is, that they do not contradict each other.  Answers that correspond with reality and fit into a coherent system provide the individual a world-view by which all of life’s choices may then be made.  (Ravi Zacharias, Deliver Us From Evil: Restoring the Soul in a Disintegrating Culture, 219)

 

The Greeks had long believed that the very concept of human excellence could be pursued only if man’s purpose was first known.  Purpose and performance had to be tied together.  But purpose had been lost, and technique and pleasure had replaced truth and morality.  The pragmatic plague of “how to build” became more important than “how to be.”  (Ravi Zacharias, Deliver Us From Evil: Restoring the Soul in a Disintegrating Culture, 38-39)

 

The Word for the Day is . . . Purpose

 

Issues as abortion, animal rights, gays and sexual preferences, the right to die, capital punishment, euthanasia, labor/unions/management, human rights, and treating each other with respect and dignity.   It comes in understanding who we are as creatures created “imageo Dei” – in the image of God.

 

Antonym of human = animal, brute, bestial, cruel

 

Plato = Man = a featherless biped (plucked chicken)

 

Aristotle = Man is a rational animal

 

Man = the naked ape.  The only creature that uses artificial covering.

 

Marx = Man = homo faber = man the fabricator, the maker

 

Sarte = Man is a useless passion

 

Freud = man is a sexual creature

 

Man is religious (Calvin – an idol factory)

 

Westminister Larger Catechism Question #1- What is the chief and highest end of man?

Answer:      Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy Him forever. (1 Cor 10:31; Jn 17:21-23)

 

God created mankind to be mankind.  But, ever since the Fall our nature has become so corrupted and so distorted that God no longer regards us as men but as sheep. Pastor Keith

 

Every area of education has been infected by this (today’s) value-neutral philosophy.  This is not only tragic but ironic: At one time the pursuit of virtue was the specific goal of education.  “If you ask what is the good of education,” said Plato, “the answer is easy–that education makes good men, and that good men act nobly.”  We have lost the ideal of educating for virtue.  (Charles Colson, A Dangerous Grace, 266)

 

What is Solomon saying about mankind in Ecclesiastes 3:12-22?:

I.  Man was created in God’s image to cheerfully, diligently, and fearfully do good and worship God.  (Eccl 3:12-14; see also: Gn 1:26-28; 2:6-8; 5:1-2; Job 32:8; 33:4; Ps 8:4; 139:14; 144:3-4; Isa 43:7; 64:8; Heb 2:6-8)

 

homo sapien = one with the capacity for wisdom

 

We need to ask ourselves: Am I going to live for possessions?  Popularity?  Am I going to be driven by pressures?  Guilt?  Bitterness?  Materialism?  Or am I going to be driven by God’s purposes (for my life)?  When I get up in the morning, I sit on the side of my bed and say, God, if I don’t get anything else done today, I want to know You more and love You better.  God didn’t put me on earth just to fulfill a to-do list.  He’s more interested in what I am than what I do.

That’s why we’re called human beings, not human doings.

Man was placed on this earth to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.  Also, as one with the capacity to be like God, mankind was created and designed to be God’s ambassadors to the rest of creation to demonstrate to creation God’s nature and attributes.  The imago Dei means that man was created by God to relate to and communicate with God.  Man shares several attributes with God that constitute the imago Dei.  These include but are not limited to the ability to reason, create, love, express compassion, mercy, grace, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control as well as the ability to contemplate one’s own existence and future as well as to know the difference between right and wrong, and to live on a moral or ethical value system.  God also extended to mankind, as His vice-regent, the authority to rule and take dominion of the entirety of creation.  Even though mankind bears the image of God, he is in no way God. (See Gn 1:26-28; 5:1-3; 9:6; 18:25; Dt 1:31; Ex 4:22; Prv 11:2; 15:33; 22:4; 1:7; 3:18; Rom 6:19, 23, 29; 8:29; 2 Cor 3:18; Eph 4:21-24; Col 1:9; 3:9-10, 14; Phil 2:1-11; Heb 1:3; Jas 3:9)  — Pastor Keith

 

Imago Dei in the NT (Heb 1:1-3; Eph 4:17ff; Col 3:8ff; Rom 8:28ff) If we see Jesus, we see what we are to be like in the image of God.  For if we see Jesus we have seen the Father thus the image of God.  The fact that God made humans in His image is the great presupposition of the incarnation (Orr).  We were made in the image of God and so it should not be hard for us to imagine the incarnation of Jesus as He is simply the manifestation of that Gn 1-2 image.  (Heb 1:1-4) Jesus is the expressed image of God’s person.  We have been given a special privilege as we are made in God’s image.  This is above angels and other created beings.  Humans ALONE have this privilege.  Thus, as we become redeemed in Christ, and the fullness of that image is developed and sanctified in us, we will more and more become like Christ and thus be true co-heirs, and share in all the abilities, gifts and powers that Christ possessed.  Eph 4:17-19—Negative side—You can no longer live as the Gentiles do.  We must now live as Christ did.  Reestablishing the image of God in our lives.  Allowing the Spirit of God to lead us towards becoming like we were originally created to be—in God’s image.  The world looks to “things” or “food” to find fulfillment.  God says that it is only when we are living as God created us to be that we will find fulfillment.

 

Is it the chief purpose of God to glorify man and to enjoy him forever?  Or is it the chief purpose of man to glorify God and enjoy Him forever?  “The yardstick, Job,” declares the Lord, “is not your purpose. You have no right to rule things out of court as purposeless or as unjust in terms of their relationship to you, because you are not the yardstick.  You cannot say, because things affect me thus and so, therefore the whole frame of things is out of joint.”  Not Job but the Lord is the yardstick.  And the only yardstick by which things in heaven and earth can be judged is the Lord and His purpose, the ontological trinity, the Sovereign God in Himself.  Thus what God required of Job was that he recognize His sovereignty in every respect, recognize that the only standard for judging his own personal life and his own problems was not in terms of himself but in terms of the sovereignty of God, in terms of the Triune God in Himself.  (Rousas J. Rushdoony, By What Standard?, 198)

 

The deepest desire of our hearts is for union with God. God created us for union with himself:  This is the original purpose of our lives. (Brennan Manning as quoted by John Eldredge, Wild at Heart, 118)

 

To say I am made in the image of God is to say that love is the reason for my existence, for God is love.  — Thomas a Kempis

 

The Preacher tells us to be joyful.  We may not always be happy about the way things are going in life, but we can always find joy in the grace of our God and the work he has given us to do.  No matter how bad our circumstances may be–whether through the natural hardships of life or the harm done to us by others or the painful consequences of our own rebellious sin–in every situation there is always a way for us to glorify God, and this should give us joy.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Ecclesiastes, 94)

 

To fear God is to revere him and to tremble at his mighty power.  Both the Psalms and the Proverbs say that such fear of the Lord is the very beginning of wisdom and that anyone who fails to see this is a fool (Ps 111:10; Prv 1:7).  In fact, when we get to the end of Ecclesiastes, we will discover that this is the point of the whole book.  After saying everything else that he has to say, the Preacher will leave us with this simple instruction: “Fear God” (Eccl 12:13).  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Ecclesiastes, 96)

 

This is what it means to fear God:  to have God in view, to know that He looks at all our works, and to acknowledge Him as the Author of all things.  –Martin Luther

 

God has rigged life so that we have to trust Him even though it doesn’t always make sense.  (Tommy Nelson, A Life Well Lived, 60)

 

This fear is not abject terror of God, it is respect and honor for Him.  If you try to live your life without recognizing God, ultimately you will find yourself (as the Searcher found himself) empty, dissatisfied, and restless, feeling that life is miserable and meaningless.  The secret of life is the presence of God Himself.  (Ray Stedman, Is This All There Is to Life?, 53)

 

Here is the capstone of Solomon’s theme:  God’s work is perfect and eternal.  His purposes and plans are unalterable, and no one can keep Him from fulfilling what He intends to do.  Thus, if we can learn to rest in God’s purposes, receive His gifts, and take up our work according to His plan, we can do good and serve the purposes of eternity.  The fear of the Lord is integral here, for by it we acknowledge His might and accept our place of humility in His sight (cf. Ps 76).  (T. M. Moore, The Christian Worldview Journal, May 19, 2011)

 

In these closing moments of this age, the Lord will have a people whose purpose for living is to please God with their lives.  In them, God finds His own reward for creating man.  They are His worshipers.  They are on earth only to please God, and when He is pleased, they also are pleased.

The Lord takes them farther and through more pain and conflicts than other men.  Outwardly, they often seem “smitten of God, and afflicted” (Is 53:4).  Yet to God, they are His beloved.  When they are crushed, like the petals of a flower, they exude a worship, the fragrance of which is so beautiful and rare that angels weep in quiet awe at their surrender.  They are the Lord’s purpose for creation.

One would think that God would protect them, guarding them in such a way that they would not be marred.  Instead, they are marred more than others.  Indeed, the Lord seems pleased to crush them, putting them to grief.  For in the midst of their physical and emotional pain, their loyalty to Christ grows pure and perfect.  And in the face of persecutions, their love and worship toward God become all-consuming.

Would that all Christ’s servants were so perfectly surrendered.  (Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, 93-94)

 

The OT writers also believed that man was made in the divine image, that he had received his vital breath from God, and at death, when he breathed his last, gave his spirit back to God.  Thus God is described as being or having a ruach; as essentially Spirit, the source of that breath of life by which all living creatures are animated, and the Giver of those unique qualities that makes man like Himself.  (The Zondervan Pictoral Encyclopedia of the Bible Vol. H-L, 183)

 

As for man, his very life depends on a special impartation of the “breath (neshamah) of life” (Gn 2:7) and the divine Spirit is behind all the unique powers that he possesses, in distinction to the animals.  The Spirit, or Breath, of God is the source of man’s reason (Job 32:8); of his endowments and gifts (Gn 41:38; Ex 28:3); or his artistic skills as in the case of Bezalel (Ex 36); of his cunning in war as exemplified in Joshua (Dt 34:9); of his heroism as displayed in the Judges (Jgs 13:25); of his wisdom, as celebrated in Solomon (1 Kgs 3:28); of his religious and ethical insights as seen in the inspiration of the poets and prophets (Nm 11:17; 25f., 29; 2 Sm 23:2; 1 Kgs 22:24; Ez 11:5; Dn 4:8, 9), and of his purity as seen in the strength and penitence of the righteous (Neh 9:20; Ps 51:11; Isa 63:10; Ez 36:26; Zec 12:10). (The Zondervan Pictoral Encyclopedia of the Bible Vol. H-L, 184)

 

He gave him reason and understanding.  He made him essentially different from the animals.  Animals live according to their lusts, their instincts, their desires; not so man.  He was given a critical faculty.  He was given the power of looking on at himself and of making estimates.  He was able to curb and to control himself.  He was different, not a part of creation but the lord of it.  God, in other words, gave something of his own power.  He could not have paid a greater compliment.

And not only that, God gave freedom.  Man, as he was originally made, was absolutely free, with free will, complete freedom of choice.  And not only that, God set before man a very glorious possibility.  He told him that if he obeyed the commandments of God, he would be glorified and would never die at all.

That is how God made man and set him in this world.  And God here argues that he has a perfect right, therefore, to lay down conditions for men and women and to make demands of them.  There is nothing derogatory in that.  There is nothing derogatory in asking them to acknowledge the lordship of the Almighty. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones; God’s Way, Not Ours: Isaiah 1, 140-41)

 

Solomon has some advice:  First, we must make sure that we receive our work as a gift and not a curse.  God has given us the work we do (Eccl 3:9-12), and He intends that we should find our work satisfying and enjoyable.  But this will only be the case when we receive work with gratitude and engage it with a view to carrying out the purposes of God.  We cannot know these exhaustively, of course.  Still, God has put a spark of divinity in each of us, and He has made known His will in Scripture and elsewhere so that, by careful study and diligent labor we can do our work in a way that helps to fulfill God’s purposes for His creation (Eccl 3:11; 1:13).

Second, we need to cultivate positive attitudes toward our work, in the first place, because it is a gift of God, and in the second, because by our work we actually can make a contribution to the “divine economy.”  Solomon says, “For the one who pleases Him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy” (Eccl 2:26).  Let us, then, daily give thanks for the work God has given us, and let us come to the workplace with joyful hearts, eager to serve God and our fellow men.  Solomon insists, “there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that is his portion in life” (Eccl 3:22, my translation).  We should also learn to accept the good and bad that comes with our work as part of God’s plan, and cultivate contentment along with joy in all our endeavors (Eccl 5:12, 7:14).

Finally, we need to seek the wisdom of God concerning our work.  Here Solomon intends both such everyday, practical advice as being diligent in all our work, diversifying labor and investments, planning wisely, and taking sound advice wherever it may be found, as well as such long-term perspectives as never losing sight of God and His purposes for our work, making friends with colleagues and co-laborers, and striving to finish well in all our endeavors (in order, Eccl 4:5; 11:1-4; 9:13-16; 12:1; 4:7-12; 7:8).  Such wisdom comes from God’s revelation of Himself in the creation and His Word, but especially in His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.  (T. M. Moore, The Christian Worldview Journal, January 8, 2012 – red bold emphasis Pastor Keith)

 

When we approach our work as the image-bearers of God, seeing it as a gift of God for furthering His purposes, our work can be a glorious adventure of daily laboring in His presence for His glory unto His saving and sanctifying purposes.  (T. M. Moore, The Christian Worldview Journal, January 6, 2012)

 

God enjoys our enjoyment!  He filled the world with good things for a reason.  Go to a football game.  Spend time with your family.  Take a vacation.  Pursue an enjoyable hobby.  Relax in the sauna.  Do a little something for yourself every day, and thank God for the blessings He has abundantly poured into your life.

Author Jim McGuiggan has observed: “Some saints can’t enjoy a meal because the world is starving.  They can’t joyfully thank God for their clothing and shelter because the world is naked and homeless.  They’re afraid to enjoy an evening at home with their families because they feel like they ought to be out saving souls.  They can’t spend an hour with an unforgiven one without feeling guilty if they haven’t preached a sermon or manifested a sober Christian spirit.  They know nothing of balance and they’re miserable because of it…They think the gospel is good news until you obey it.  And then it becomes an endless guilt trip (Jim McGuiggan, The Irish Papers:  Lessons from Life as quoted by David Jeremiah, Searching for Heaven on Earth, 67)

 

Humans in their whole being–body and soul–adequately and faithfully represent God (Ps 94:10), possess life from Him and therefore potential intimacy with Him (Gn 2:7), and serve on earth as His administrators (Ps 8).  The image is passed on to every human, giving each person dignity (Gn 5:3; 9:6; Prv 22:2).

Medieval theologians strongly distinguished “image” and “likeness,” with “image” viewed as a reference to natural reason, and “likeness” as a reference to the original righteousness lost in the Fall.  More recent scholarship notes that the two Hebrew terms are used synonymously in Scripture (v. 27; 5:1, 3, 9:6).  (Luder Whitlock, Jr. New Geneva Study Bible, 8)

 

The absolute determination of events, beyond all human control, is understood as a reason for man to fear the deity that controls all things.  (Robert Alter, The Wisdom Books, 356)

 

God is the author of man’s life.  He has provided him lavishly with all the means for living it.  He has given man his task and man is responsible to Him.  Man is not an automaton; within the possibilities and limitations of existence and under the ultimate divine sovereignty he is endowed by God with volition and has a measure of choice.  God preserves and accompanies and overrules man.  God is his ultimate end.  He is the one from whom man comes and to whom he goes.  Human life is inexplicable apart from God.  It can be neither understood nor lived in terms of autonomy on the one side or a simply cosmic relation on the other.  It is life from, with, by, and to God.  (Geoffrey W. Bromiley, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol 1, 133)

 

For Israel’s sages “fear” was the virtual equivalent to the “love” which described the basic relationship to God commanded by Moses (Dt 6:4-5) and Jesus (Mk 12:29-30).  He had drunk heartily of the wisdom teaching on the centrality of fearing God (see Prv 1:7; 9:10) and that draught fortified him for life.  (David Hubbard, Mastering the OT: Ecclesiastes, 109)

 

In man, as originally formed, there existed a dignity, and as well a sovereignty over nature, which was analogous to God’s own dignity and sovereignty.  Answerable to this, God placed the first human pair over nature, that they might discipline, order, and enjoy it.  Implied in this is man’s original sinlessness, his possession of a primeval righteousness and a consequent unclouded relation to his Maker.  Man is personal, self-conscious, rational, social, and above all, accountable in a moral sense to God.  (Merrill C. Tenney, Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, Vol. 4, 50)

 

Humankind is designed for obedience to what God reveals.  (Alec Motyer, Look to the Rock, 74)

 

II.  God reveals to fallen man that he has failed to be what he was created to be.  (Eccl 3:14, 18-21; see also: 1 Kgs 2:3; Isa 53:6-7; Mi 6:8; 1 Pt 2:25; 2 Pt 2:1-22)

 

Mankind is so far away from what we were originally designed and created to be, that finding our way back would be totally impossible without Christ as our  example, and our means.   Mankind was created in the image of God (imago Dei).   There is no more perfect example of that than Christ.  Once we see the imago Dei in every human being, it must radically change how we live, respond, and relate to others and must radically change our values and priorities. (Pastor Keith in a message given April 11th, 2010; from Gn 1-2; Heb 1:1-4; Jn 19:5, “Man in God’s Image”)

 

“Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps; for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are, and what they ought to be.” —William Hazlitt

 

Human beings are the only animals on the face of the earth who blush—or need to. — Mark Twain

 

The knowledge of one’s own death is the essential fact that distinguishes us from animals. — Soren Kierkegaard

 

Man is the only animal that contemplates death, and also the only animal that shows any sign of the doubt of its finality.  — William Ernest Hocking

 

Man is equally incapable of seeing the nothingness from which he emerges and the infinity in which he is engulfed.”  (Blaise Pascal, Pensees)

 

Man possesses the greatest grandeur of any created thing and yet at the same time displays the greatest misery.  Man is so great he can contemplate his own future and his own existence, but in the process of doing that he realizes that he is not enjoying what he knows is the best possible life. — Blaise Pascal

 

It is no easy matter to convince proud men that they are but men (Ps 9:20), much more to convince bad men that they are beasts, that, being destitute of religion, they are as the beasts that perish, as the horse and the mule that have no understanding.  Proud oppressors are as beasts, as roaring lions and ranging bearsNay, every man that minds his body only, and not his soul, makes himself no better than a brute, and must wish, at least, to die like one.  (Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible, Vol. III, 1000 – red bold emphasis Pastor Keith)

 

Think about how natural it is for you to rebel against God.  Consider how easily you come under sin’s influence.  We do not have to devise ways to turn away from God.  We do not have to plan on it.  All we have to do is drop our guard and sin inflicts its damaging blows.

For example, what do you have to do to ruin your family?  What is required to obliterate the bonds that hold your home together?  In our fallen world, simply let nature take its course.  Sin will prevail and your family will be destroyed.

What do you have to do to grow cold in your relationship with Christ?  What must you do to ruin your walk with him?  You don’t have to do anything.  Sin still seeks to master you, and if you don’t consciously resist it, your walk with Christ will grow ice cold.  (Richard L. Pratt, Jr., Designed for Dignity, 63 – red bold emphasis Pastor Keith)

 

Humanity, having been created in God’s image, and with a sense of deity indelibly written on its heart, is inescapably religious.  However, since the fall, our tendency is to attempt to create God in our own image and thus worship ourselves rather than the one in whose image we were made.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Give Praise to God A Vision for Reforming Worship, 59)

 

I am well aware, says Koheleth, what people say–God will judge in his own good time–but so what?  All that seems to be clear now is that God puts us through the mill to drive home to us one simple fact, that we are merely “beasts,” no better than any other animal.  He is not here talking about human conduct, although sometimes when we think of man’s inhumanity to man and the depths to which we can sink, to call man ‘The Naked Ape’ seems suspiciously like an insult to the ape family.  No, what Koheleth is talking about is the one thing we share with all other creatures in the world–the fact of mortality.  (Robert Davidson, The Daily Study Bible: Ecclesiastes, 26)

 

God is making it clear to them so that they may see that they–they by themselves–are animals.  (Michael A. Eaton, Tyndale OT Commentaries: Ecclesiastes, 85)

 

There is nothing that we can see on earth which does not either show the wretchedness of man or the mercy of God.  One either sees the powerlessness of man without God, or the strength of man with God. — Blaise Pascal

 

Who is not happy at not being a king except a deposed king.  All of these miseries of man prove man’s greatness.  They are miseries of a deposed King.  —Blaise Pascal.

We implore the mercy of God, not that he may leave us at peace with our vices, but that he may deliver us from them.  —Blaise Pascal

 

Man is so great that his greatness appears even in knowing himself to be miserable.  A tree has no sense of misery.  It is true that to know we are miserable is to be miserable; but to know we are miserable is to be great.   Thus all miseries of man prove his grandeur; they are the miseries of a dignified personage, the miseries of a dethroned monarch . . . What can this incessant craving, and this impotence of attainment mean, unless there was once happiness belonging to man, of which only the faintest traces remain, in that void which he attempts to fill with everything within his reach?  (Blaise Pascal as quoted in John Eldredge; The Journey of Desire, 12-13

 

In the life of obedience, therefore, two things come together: man in the image of God, and the law in the image of God.  In declaring his law, the Lord declares what he is; in obeying the law we are being fundamentally true to what we are.  Because the law reflects his image, it is the true law of our true nature.  In obedience we are living according to our revealed definition, we are ‘being ourselves’.  The law of the Lord is the ‘Maker’s Handbook’ for the effectuation of a truly human existence and personal human fulfilment.  (Alec Motyer, Look to the Rock, 77-78)

 

God alone knows what is good for human beings and God alone knows what is not good for them.  To enjoy the “good” we must trust God and obey him.  If we disobey, we will have to decide for ourselves what is good and what is not good.  While to modern men and women such a prospect may seem desirable, to the author of Genesis it is the worst fate that could have befallen humanity.  (John Sailhamer, The Pentateuch as Narrative, 101)

 

The labor of the apostles was not devoted to persuading the Church to comply with certain doctrines, but that Christ would be formed in the Church.  Paul testified of this to the Galatians:  “My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you” (Gal 4:19).  This is the purpose of all true ministry–that Christ is formed.  Jesus is the finished work.  Our goal is not formation, but TRANSFORMATION!  (Rick Joyner, There Were Two Trees in the Garden, 58)

 

The Bible presents sin by way of major concepts, principally lawlessness and faithlessness, expressed in an array of images: sin is the missing of a target, a wandering from the path, a straying from the fold.  Sin is a hard heart and a stiff neck.  Sin is blindness and deafness.  It is both the overstepping of a line and the failure to reach it–both transgression and shortcoming.  Sin is a beast crouching at the door.  In sin, people attack or evade or neglect their diving calling.  These and other images suggest deviance: even when it is familiar, sin is never normal.  Sin is disruption of created harmony and then resistance to divine restoration of that harmony.  Above all, sin disrupts and resists the vital human relation to God, and it does all this disrupting and resisting in a number of intertwined ways.  (Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be, 5)

 

If we were not familiar almost from birth with this inner war, it would strike us as extremely odd.  The animals can apparently boast nothing analogous; the nature of a mouse or a lion is all of one piece.  Man is the only house divided.  The Christian explanation is telescoped in the story of Adam and Eve.  It is a tale of a splendid beginning and a ruinous downfall.  Man, as designed by God, did not carry a battlefield inside him.  As long as he made God the center of his life he was in joyous harmony with himself, God, and his neighbors.  The schism in human nature began when man ejected God from the central position and set himself up on a makeshift throne.  Instantly, dozens of clamorous demands arose.  The new center was inadequate to maintain harmony.  Each facet of the personality warred with every other, and each individual man was in competition with his fellows.  (Chad Walsh, Early Christians of the 21st Century, 70)

 

There is no way to judge good or bad except through purpose.  Someone may ask you, “Is this watch a good watch or a bad watch?”

If you want it to save you when you jump out of an airplane then it would be a bad watch.  If you want it to hammer in a nail then it again would be a bad watch.  But if you want it to keep time, then it is a good watch.   The watch was made for the purpose of keeping time.  Not saving people jumping from planes or hammering in nails.  For those purposes, it would not be satisfactory or good.  But, you will notice, that the value we assign to the watch is based upon whether or not it does what it is supposed to do.  Whether or not it fulfills it’s purpose.  (Alasdair McIntyre, After Virtue)

 

We know that Solomon is reflecting here from an “under the sun” perspective because of his reference to the children of men and to vanity.  But note that God is sovereign even over those who refuse to acknowledge Him.  Why is there injustice in the earth?  God is testing men, in order to show them that, apart from any absolute and eternal reference point, they are no more than beasts.

If men are not made in God’s image, then there can be no other explanation, for our observations of men and beasts reveal that, whatever may be our differences, we are basically the same, and all are consigned to the same fate.  If we do not have God’s Word, telling us that we are His children, rather than merely the offspring of men, then we have no grounds for supposing ourselves superior to the beasts.  Thus God tests men in order to help them see the folly of trying to make sense out of their lives and experiences apart from Him.  (T. M. Moore, The Christian Worldview Journal, May 21, 2011)

 

Admittedly, God has his proper time for every event, but we naturally want to grasp the whole plan he has for our lives.  What is the point of it all (v. 9)?  We have to accept two facts that belong to man as he is.

First, we have to take steps to discover and fulfill the duties to be done each day (v. 10).  Doing the right thing at the right time yields a beautiful sense of fulfillment (v. 11a).

Second, one thing that elevates us above the animal world, in addition to the God-given sense of eternity, is the desire to understand the whole.  This accounts for all science, philosophy, and human knowledge, as well as theology.  However much we see things as units of knowledge and experience, we must try to bring these units into a meaningful whole.  This is an aspect of our creation in the likeness of God, who alone embraces the whole.  Before the Fall God communicated to our original progenitors all they needed for living.  The Fall occurred when they chose to have their own knowledge of good and evil and to be in charge of their own lives.  By cutting themselves off from God, they were left to go along day by day without clear direction, no longer living in the light of God’s whole plan.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 5, 1162)

 

Whatever God gives to mankind, Israel or through Jesus, MUST BE in alignment with what it means to be in the image of God.  The Law was written on their mind (Jer 31:31-34; Rom 1) but it was partially erased in the Fall.   It will one day be restored.  The Law that God is giving Israel is not trivial, it is Your life!   Obey it or you go (Exile – Garden). The Image of God has to do with ethical and moral relationships.   We need to live out the law in order to live consistent with the image of God.  (red bold emphasis Pastor Keith)

 

III.  God will hold man accountable for his failure. (Eccl 3:15-17; see also: Gn 18:25; Ps 9:20; 73:17-20; Mt ch 25; 2 Cor 5:10; 2 Thes 1:5-12; Heb 9:27; Rv 6:9-10; 20:11-15)

 

The ongoing presence of wickedness in the world simply testifies to the reality and effects of mankind’s fall into sin.  Men know they have been made for God, but they rebel against Him, preferring their own way of life rather than His (Rom 1:18-32).  God gradually gives up sinners to their own wickedness, all the while striving by His Spirit (Gn 6:3) to woo them back to Him.

Men who choose to live in sin, knowing in their hearts that God has made them for good works (Rom 2:14, 15), consign themselves to judgment, both in this life and in the life to come.  The righteous understand the judgment of God and, looking in faith to Him, eschew everything that does not comport with His will and seek to do that which they know will please and honor Him.  (T. M. Moore, The Christian Worldview Journal, May 20, 2011)

 

The problem here is that even “the place of justice” is unjust.  The very place where we most expect and most need to receive justice turns out to be a place of unfairness.  Even the court system is corrupt.  This is not merely a frustration, like some of the other problems we read about in Ecclesiastes, but a manifestation of genuine evil.  Innocent people are convicted for crimes they never committed.  They were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, or maybe the wrong color in the wrong neighborhood.  Just as frequently, other people get away with murder.  They have the money to hire better lawyers, or else they hide behind the structure of a large corporation to take advantage of people who are less fortunate.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Ecclesiastes, 100)

 

As we read the Bible, we quickly discover that this is a conflict in which God chooses sides.  He is not on the side of injustice but stands against it with all his power.  We see this again and again in the Biblical prophets.  Amos preached against people who “oppress the poor” and “crush the needy” (Amos 4:1; cf. Prv 14:31).  Ezekiel warned about extortion and stealing from foreigners (Ez 22:12).  Zechariah listed the people who were most likely to be oppressed: widows, orphans, travelers, and the poor (Zec 7:9-10; cf. Ex 22:21-22).  It is not just words and actions that bring oppression but also legislation.  Thus Isaiah pronounced God’s woe against “those who decree iniquitous decrees, and the writers who keep writing oppression” (Isa 10:1).  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Ecclesiastes, 101)

 

The Preacher had an intense emotional response to both groups of people (both oppressor and oppressed)–the same holy response that we see in the life of Jesus Christ.  On the one hand, he responded to the plight of the oppressed with lamentation, like the tears that Jesus shed for the harassed and helpless people of Israel (Mt 9:36).  On the other hand, he responded to their oppressors with indignation, like the angry words that Jesus had for the moneychangers at the temple (e.g., Lk 19:45-46).  But what the Preacher mostly felt was frustration that he could not bring an end to oppression.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Ecclesiastes, 101)

 

Our confidence does not lie in a justice system but in the Chief Justice himself, Jesus Christ.  God has promised a day when his Son will judge the righteous and the wicked (Acts 17:30-31).  The time for his work of divine retribution is the Day of Judgment, when he will render his final verdict on all mankind.  “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” (Gn 18:25).  Indeed, the wicked will be punished forever (Mt 25:41-46), and the righteous will be comforted by the Spirit of God, who will wipe away every tear from their eyes (Rv 21:4).  As the Preacher will go on to say at the very end of his book, “God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Eccl 12:14).  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Ecclesiastes, 103)

 

He knows that “God,” not the courts, has the last word.  Condemnation of the “wicked” or “the guilty” citizens (the same Heb. Root used in v. 16) and the vindication of their “righteous,” that is, “innocent” countrymen, will take place in God’s appointed “time.”  Here a belief in divine justice is tightly tied to the previous theme (3:1-15) of God’s control of the timing of human events.  (David Hubbard, Mastering the OT: Ecclesiastes, 114-15)

 

Our thinking processes are so darkened that we twist and pervert the truth (1 Cor 2:14; Jn 1:5; Rom 8:7; Eph 4:18; Ti 1:15).  Our wills have been rendered unable to choose what is spiritually good (Jn 8:34; 2 Tm 3:2-4).  Our affections have been marred and misdirected so that we love the world and its evil pleasures (Jn 5:42; Heb 3:13; 1 Jn 2:15-17).  For these reasons, we are under the judgment of God (Jn 3:18-19) and unable to do anything to redeem ourselves (Jn 6:44; 3:5; Rom 7:18, 23).  The sin of Adam and Eve has had a devastating effect on human character.  (Richard L. Pratt, Jr., Designed for Dignity, 51)

 

Animals manifested these same characteristics, but to a different degree.  They were highly intelligent.  They responded with feelings, and their minds and feelings influenced their behavior.  But their behavior patterns, which differed among various animals, were instinctual.  Each animal kind carried out its life-activities in a predetermined manner.

With man it was different.  Instead of having a built-in instinctual behavior-pattern, he was given moral responsibility.  He could alter his actions as he desired.  He could live within the boundaries of behavior laid down verbally by his Creator, or he could overstep those bounds.  He was not programmed to love and obey God.  But as a morally responsible person, he must answer to God for his actions.  (Harold V. Good, What is Man?, 2)

 

In man, as originally formed, there existed a dignity, and as well a sovereignty over nature, which was analogous to God’s own dignity and sovereignty.  Answerable to this, God placed the first human pair over nature, that they might discipline, order, and enjoy it.  Implied in this is man’s original sinlessness, his possession of a primeval righteousness and a consequent unclouded relation to his Maker.  Man is personal, self-conscious, rational, social, and above all, accountable in a moral sense to God.  (Merrill C. Tenney, The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, Vol. 4, 50)

 

CONCLUSION/APPLICATION: How does a relationship with Christ help restore mankind’s privileged nature?:

A-  Jesus helps us recognize the Fallen, corrupt, and depraved nature of our present thinking/purpose.  (Eccl 3:18-19; see also: Mt 15:11, 19-20; Mk 7:15, 21-23; Lk 11:13; 18:18-24; Rom 3:9-23; ch 7; 2 Cor 4:4; 2 Pt 2: 1-22)

 

When once infidelity can persuade men that they shall die like beasts, they will soon be brought to live like beasts also.

 

Go find another person and shake his or her hand.  Although you will see a flawed, weak human being, say to that person, “Hello, Your Majesty!”  Don’t say it as a joke.  Let the look in your eyes and the tone of your voice convey sincerity.  As you do, you may get a sense of what Moses’ readers felt when they heard him describe the first man and woman.  These former slaves looked at each other and realized with amazement that they were all of the royal lineage of Adam and Eve.  They possessed the dignity of being the Creator’s images.  (Richard L. Pratt, Jr., Designed for Dignity, 12)

 

It is beyond argument that a man who has never been instructed in philosophy or in any branch of learning is a creature quite inferior to the brute animals.  Animals only follow their natural instincts; but man, unless he has experienced the influence of learning and philosophy, is at the mercy of impulses that are worse than those of a wild beast.  There is no beast more savage and dangerous than a human being who is swept along by the passions of ambition, greed, anger, envy, extravagance, and sensuality.  Therefore, a father who does not arrange for his son to receive the best education at the earliest age is neither a man himself nor has any fellowship with human nature.  (Richard M. Gamble, The Great Tradition, 363-64)

 

According to A Kempis, there is little progress without purpose.  “According to our purpose shall be the success of our spiritual progress; and much diligence is necessary to him that will show progress.  And if he that firmly purposeth often faileth, what shall he do that seldom purposeth anything, or with little resolution?”  (Thomas A Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, I:3:3)

 

“If a man knows not what harbor he seeks, any wind is the right wind.”  This quote from Seneca is indicative of how so many people live their life.  Not knowing what long-term direction they are headed for, they bounce around like a ball in a pinball machine.  They live reactive lives based on what happens to them rather than pro-active lives based on what values are in them.  They live their life “by accident” rather than “on purpose.”  (John C. Maxwell, The Power of Leadership, 111)

 

Our Lord Jesus Christ, with all the concern, compassion and love which he showed to mankind, made some very vivid portrayals of man’s condition.  He did not mince words about the gravity of human sin.  He talked of man as salt that has lost its savor (Mt 5:13).  He talked of man as a corrupt tree which is bound to produce corrupt fruit (Mt 7:7).  He talked of man as being evil: “You, being evil, know how to give good things to your children” (Lk 11:13).  On one occasion he lifted up his eyes toward heaven and talked about an “evil and adulterous generation” (v. 45).  In a great passage dealing with what constitutes true impurity and true purity he made the startling statement that out of the heart proceed murders, adulteries, evil thoughts and things of that kind (Mk 7:21-23).  He spoke about Moses having to give special permissive commandments to men because of the hardness of their hearts (Mt 19:8).  When the rich young ruler approached him, saying, “Good Master,” Jesus said, “there is none good but God” (Mk 10:18)…

Jesus compared men, even the leaders of his country, to wicked servants in a vineyard (Mt 21:33-41).  He exploded in condemnation of the scribes and Pharisees, who were considered to be among the best men, men who were in the upper ranges of virtue and in the upper classes of society (Mt 23:2-39).

The Lord Jesus made a fundamental statement about man’s depravity in Jn 3:6: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh.”  He saw in man an unwillingness to respond to grace–“You will not come to God” (Jn 5:40), “You have not the love of God” (v. 42), “You receive me not” (v. 43), “You believe not” (v. 47).  Such sayings occur repeatedly in the Gospel of John.  “The world’s works are evil” (Jn 7:7); “None of you keeps the law” (v. 19).  “You shall die in your sins,” he says (Jn 8:21).  “You are from beneath” (v. 23); “Your father is the devil, who is a murderer and a liar” (vv. 38, 44); “You are not of God” (v. 47); “You are not of my sheep” (Jn 10:26); “He that hates me hates my Father” (Jn 15:23-25).  This is the way in which our Lord spoke to the leaders of the Jews.  He brought to the fore their utter inability to please God.

Following another line of approach he showed also the blindness of man, that is, his utter inability to know God and understand him.  Here again we have a whole series of passages showing that no man knows the Father but him to whom the Son has revealed him (Mt 11:27).  He compared men to the blind leading the blind (Mt 15:14).  He mentioned that Jerusalem itself did not know or understand the purpose of God and, as a result, disregarded the things that concern salvation (Lk 19:42).  The Gospel of John records him as saying that he that believed not was condemned already because he had not believed on the Son of God (Jn 3:18).  “This is the condemnation, that…men loved the darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (v. 19).  He said that only the one who has been reached by grace can walk not in darkness but have the light of life (Jn 8:12).  The Lord Jesus emphasized that it is essential for man to be saved by a mighty act of God if he is to be rescued from his condition of misery (Jn 3:3, 5, 7-16).  Even in the Lord’s Prayer the Lord teaches us to say, “Forgive us our debts” (Mt 6:12).  And this is a prayer that we need to repeat again and again.  He said, “The sick are the people who need a physician” (Mt 9;12).  We are those sick people who need a physician to help us and redeem us.  He said that we are people who are burdened and heavy-laden (Mt 11:28)…

The people who were most readily received by the Lord were those who had this sense of need and who therefore did not come to him with a sense of the sufficiency of their performance.  The people he received were those who came broken-hearted and bruised with the sense of their inadequacy.  (Roger R. Nicole, “The Doctrines of Grace in Jesus’ Teaching”)

 

In the Western world, this rejection of sin began with the Enlightenment.  Enlightenment thinkers rejected the biblical God and quickly denied human sin as well.  The French social philosopher Rousseau said, “Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains,” because society has enslaved him.  Freud took this one step further and taught that humans are simply animals.  The bottom line?  There is no sin, no soul, no conscience; we are simply manipulated by forces beyond our control.  In other words, Freud said, we are not responsible for our actions.  Society or some other influence outside of ourselves compels us to do what we do.  This denial of sin can lead to utopianism, whose proponents say, “Give me power, and I’ll create a good society so good people can live well.” But utopianism always leads to tyranny, as utopians Hitler, Lennin, Stalin, and Mao demonstrated.  (Charles Colson, The Good Life, 248-49)

 

The Nine Satanic Statements as written in the Satanic Bible

1. Satan represents indulgence, instead of abstinence!

2. Satan represents vital existence, instead of spiritual pipe dreams!

3. Satan represents undefiled wisdom, instead of hypocritical self-deceit!

4. Satan represents kindness to those who deserve it, instead of love wasted on ingrates!

5. Satan represents vengeance, instead of turning the other cheek!

6. Satan represents responsibility to the responsible, instead of concern for psychic vampires!

7. Satan represents man as just another animal, sometimes better, more often worse than those that walk on all-fours, who, because of his “divine spiritual and intellectual development,” has become the most vicious animal of all!

8. Satan represents all of the so-called sins, as they lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification!

9. Satan has been the best friend the church has ever had, as he has kept it in business all these years! (Anton LaVey; Satanic Statements – red bold emphaiss Pastor Keith)

 

We alone of living beings have to cooperate in making ourselves, in gaining for ourselves true existence.

Even certain common idioms show our awareness of this truth.  G.K. Chesterton once observed that you might slap a man on the shoulder who was drinking too heavily and say, “Be a man!”, but it would be pointless to tell a recalcitrant crocodile to “be a crocodile.”  It can’t fail to be a crocodile.  But we can fail to be men and women, fail to be human.  For the human being is made in God’s image to love and serve his Maker and his fellows.  And if a thing fails of its essential purpose, it fails to exist.  A fire which fails to burn is not a fire.  A seat which collapses when you sit on it is for practical purposes no longer a seat.

That is why we need education while animals do not.  A lamb will skip about on its legs soon after it is born. A human baby needs two or more years and a good deal of patient tuition to get to that stage.  We have heard how a child brought up in India among wolves walked naturally on all fours.  It is within the choice of any of us to walk or not to walk.  A lamb separated from its mother and its flock and brought up as a domestic pet might make a very nice tame companion, but it would not begin to walk on two legs, even if you tried to teach it.   Nor would it forget its bleating and learn to speak.  Men and women can virtually turn into animals, but even faithful and friendly dogs and horses stop well short of turning into human beings.  The better they are as dogs and horses, the more we like them.

And the more human human beings are, the more we approve of them.  Education is, or ought to be, the process that turns us into fully human beings.  Which means that it will try to turn us into the beings God made us to be.

It is a grave thing to say, but “secular education” is a contradiction in terms.  True education would try to mold us in the image of Christ.  It would insist that no progress in any sphere of knowledge or activity can be a substitute for learning to know, to love, and to serve God.  And such knowledge, such love, and such service are the gifts of grace.  “By Grace ye are saved,” St. Paul said.  By grace alone can we become human.

That is why civilization is now in danger of returning to the jungle. (Harry Blamires ; On Christian Truth, 71-72)

 

“Truly it is an evil to be full of faults,” said Pascal, “but it is a still greater evil to be full of them, and to be unwilling to recognize them.” (Philip Yancey, What’s so Amazing About Grace?, 181)

 

In one sense, fallen man became more like the animals, living his natural (soul) life in response to physical drives.  He retained a degree of God-likeness–he still possessed the ability to think, to plan, and to communicate verbally; he was an emotional being with capacities to love, to hate, and to experience inward feelings; and he could exercise his will in choosing and making decisions.  But these capacities were now directed toward self-gratification rather than serving his Creator.  (Harold V. Good, What is Man?, 2-3)

 

Outward from this familial pattern of tragedy there radiated social and cultural disorientation so that “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (6:5).  Thus is portrayed the loss of the divine image which was sustained by man.  His moral resemblance to God became largely destroyed, his God-consciousness became clouded, and even his natural virtues became a mere shadow of those with which he was originally endowed.

There remained to man his personality (albeit in maimed and distorted form), his self-consciousness, and some measure of capacity to respond to the claims of the moral and spiritual realm.  His propensities toward society and toward societal living are shown to be capable of gross distortion, as are also his capabilities for the erection of culture.  A false sense of autonomy, and a narrowly-based pride of achievement, corroded and corrupted the human enterprise (Gn 4:23, 24).  (Merrill C. Tenney, Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, Vol. 4, 51)

 

God tests man and shows him his fallibility.  Under the sun, we are no different from the beasts.  There is a greater difference between God and you than between you and the dust mites living on your skin.  God tests us so that we recognize our great need and quickly repent.  Death unveils the true human condition.  (Tommy Nelson, A Life Well Lived, 62)

 

B-  There is One who knows the eternal spirit of man:  Jesus. (Eccl 3:21; see also: Mt 19:29; 25:46; Mk 10:30; Lk 18:30Jn 1:12-13; 3:1-21; 4:14, 36; 5:24, 39; 6:27, 40, 47, 54; 10:28; 12:25, 50; 17:2-3  Rom 8:1-21; 1 Cor 15:48-49; Gal 3:24-29; 4:4-7; Eph 3:6; Phil 2:15; 1 Jn 3:1-2, 10; 5:19 )

 

Where is our hope?  It is in Christ who is “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Col 1:15).  He is the exact image of God’s being (cf. Heb 1:3).  Jesus’ incarnation resulted in a formal correspondence with the first Adam by virtue of his humanity.  But Christ, the second Adam, did not sin.  So he can make all those who are in him alive (cf. Rom 5:12ff.).  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Genesis, 38)

 

Jesus came as the Son, the one who had ever and always been free.  He–God’s free one–had the power and authority to share his freedom with us.

And what freedom it is!  It is the freedom to accept life as God gives it.  Ecclesiastes said the same thing, but he said it more grimly.  Jesus knew the Giver better.  He knew how grandly God can be trusted.  And he urged us to find freedom through trust: “Now if God so clothes the grass of the field…will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Mt 6:30).  The God whom Jesus revealed can be fully trusted with the pages of our calendar.  His love for us will not fail.  Knowing that, we find freedom.  (David Hubbard, Mastering the OT: Ecclesiastes, 110-11)

 

By himself man is unable to know anything spiritual.  He can’t know anything about his spiritual life.  Nor can he know anything about the spirit’s life after death.  He is as ignorant in these matters as are the animals.

Left to himself man is likely to conclude he is nothing but a highly evolved animal.  Only by a God-given revelation can we learn the truth.  (Roland Cap Ehlke, The People’s Bible, Ecclesiastes, 40)

 

The Holy Spirit can manifest Himself in no other way than in the spirit of man.  In this dispensation we are to fulfill man’s part in carrying out God’s plan.  (Andrew Murray, Receiving Power from God, 16)

 

In the Biblical sense, the spiritual man is the man who has been begotten again, and has had not a part of his nature but all of his nature transformed by the supernatural act of the Spirit of God.  (J. Gresham Machen, The Christian View of Man, 142)

 

Thomas Aquinas was asked on one occasion why there seem to be non-Christians who are searching for God, when the Bible says no one seeks after God in an unconverted state.  Aquinas replied that we see people all around us who are feverishly seeking for purpose in their lives, pursuing happiness, and looking for relief from guilt to silence the pangs of conscience.  We see people searching for the things that we know can be found only in Christ, but we make the gratuitous assumption that because they are seeking the benefits of God, they must therefore be seeking God.  That is the very dilemma of fallen creatures:  we want the things that only God can give us, but we do not want him.  We want peace but not the Prince of Peace.  We want purpose but not the sovereign purposes decreed by God.  We want meaning found in ourselves but not in his rule over us.  We see desperate people, and we assume they are seeking for God, but they are not seeking for God.  I know that because God says so.  No one seeks after God.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Romans, 90)

 

Our modern consumerist age is deluded to think that life consists of meeting our animal needs: eating, drinking, money, power, sex, and leisure.  Charles Malik, a one time undersecretary-general of the United Nations, saw how badly this missed the real human need.  In arguing for the inclusion of freedom of conscience and religion in the U.N.’s original Commission on Human Rights, he said, “All those who stress the elemental economic rights and needs of man are for the most part impressed by his sheer animal existence…This is materialism whatever else it may be called.  But unless man’s proper nature, unless his mind and spirit are brought out, set apart, protected and promoted, the struggle for human rights is a sham and a mockery.  (Charles Colson, The Good Life, 85)

 

True worship occurs only when that part of man, his spirit, which is akin to the divine nature (for God is spirit), actually meets with God and finds itself praising Him for His love, wisdom, beauty, truth, holiness, compassion, mercy, grace, power, and all His other attributes.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of John, vol. 1: The Coming of the Light: John 1-4, 296-97)

 

Is there anything else to be said?  Is there something within us, call it what you will, spirit or soul, which survives death and makes us different from all other animals?  The NT does not talk about such a something, but it does offer us a Risen Lord.  Koheleth can only shrug his shoulders and say ‘Who knows?’  There may well have been people in his own day speculating about life after death, but he has no certainty–the traditional faith of Israel had none–and where he has no certainty, he will not pretend.  This life is all he knows and he calls upon us to make the most of it while it lasts (3:22).  (Robert Davidson, The Daily Study Bible: Ecclesiastes, 27)

 

The great ambition of the millions is to be happy as animals, not to be blessed as “saved,” noble-spirited, sanctified men. (A. B. Bruce; The Training of the Twelve, 187)

 

We know from other biblical texts that God extends human life beyond the grave (see 1 Cor 15:50-57, 1 Thes 4:13-17, Rv 20:11-21:8).  But these verses in Ecclesiastes point out that, from empirical observation alone, death places man and beast on equal footing.  As far as we can observe by watching people and animals die, we have no advantage over beats; our destiny and theirs is the same–death, nothing more.  (Charles R. Swindoll, Living on the Ragged Edge, 35)

 

Eating and drinking (and the other good that comes from one’s labor) are all temporary, transient goods (v. 13).  There is nothing permanent about them.  Food is consumable.  Satisfactions from one’s labor here soon fade.  God, in mercy, has granted us everyday blessings for which we should be thankful.  But because they do not remain beyond the experiencing of them, once again they point to the eternal state in which treasures that cannot be consumed will be ours.  (Jay E. Adams, Life under the Son, 34)

 

God has produced no being that He intends ultimately to destroy.  He made everything in reference to eternity; and, however matter may be changed and refined, animal and intellectual beings shall not be deprived of their existence.  The brute creation shall be restored, and all human spirits shall live for ever; the pure in a state of supreme and endless blessedness, the impure in a state of indestructible misery.  (Adam Clarke, Holy Bible Commentary and Critical Notes, Vol II, 485)

 

The Teacher is not a total pessimist about life.  There is much to be enjoyed, especially as one goes through life doing good.  It requires an act of faith to declare that there is a permanency about all God-inspired good deeds (vv. 12-13).  Therefore, one must walk in humble fear lest he miss the will of God in his life (v. 14).  The fuller Christian revelation enriches these principles.  Treasure may be laid up in heaven (Mt 6:20), works of gold and silver will survive the fire test (1 Cor 3:10-15), and a Christian’s works in the Lord follow him (Rv 14:13).  But the unbelieving humanist, however earnest, cannot plan his life in the light of eternity.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 5, 1162)

 

Image-bearers can hear God’s word and ride it to untold spiritual heights.  Image-bearers are innately regal beings meant to rule over all creation.  Image-bearers are the created offspring of God, with real possibilities of eternal sonship.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Genesis, 38)

 

I know as well that there are some who oppose space exploration on the grounds that there are more pressing human needs to be addressed here on Earth.  But I think they forget what may be the most pressing human need of all—the need for a sense of purpose and meaning in life that goes beyond this moment, and that links us with a future larger than ourselves.  As long as children dream dreams inspired by that sort of meaning, they may live in poverty, but poverty never lives in them. (Alan Keyes; Our Character, Our Future, 106)

 

We can look at the law of God in both of these ways.  If our hearts are hardened by sin, we will see God’s rules as confining prison cells.  But if our hearts have been renewed by God’s grace, we will view the regulations of Scripture as wonderful guides to dignity.  (Richard L. Pratt, Jr., Designed for Dignity, 107)

 

Goodness is always relative to purpose.  Alistair MacIntyre     (Tim Keller in a sermon entitled “The Search for Justice”)

 

C-  If unregenerate mankind can experience the satisfaction and contentment man was designed to enjoy then how much more as a result of a restored humanity? (Eccl 3:12-13, 22a; see also: 1 Cor 2:9; Eph 3:14-21)

 

To give life meaning, one must have a purpose larger than one’s self. —Will Durant.

 

Our hearts are restless until we find our rest in thee, O Lord. —St. Augustine

 

There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any other created thing, but only by God the Creator, made known through Jesus.  —Blaise Pascal

 

One good way to understand and apply this verse is to put it in the first person and use it as a job description:  “There is nothing better than to be joyful and to do good as long as I live, and to eat and drink and take pleasure in all my work–this is God’s gift to me.”  Imagine how much good a person could do over the course of a lifetime simply by putting these verses into daily practice.  Then imagine how much kingdom work a church could do if it approached everything with this kind of joy, this kind of hard work, and this kind of gratitude to God.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Ecclesiastes, 94)

 

Man was created in the image of God and can only know his true identity when he is rightly related to God.  Schizophrenia or having multiple personalities, is perpetuated by a frustrated sense of identity.  The schizophrenia of man is increasing as he moves farther from the One in whose image he was made.  Conversely, as we draw closer to Him, we come to know clearly who we really are.  As we draw closer to Him, we will become the most consistent, decisive, stable people the world has ever known.  External situations and social pressures will no longer bend us and shape us.  (Rick Joyner, There Were Two Trees in the Garden, 41)

 

It is this spiritual intercourse with God that is the ecstasy that is imagined and hinted at in all earthly intercourse; physical or spiritual.   And I think that is the ultimate reason why sexual passion is so strong and so different from other passion; so heavy with suggestions of profound meanings that always just elude our grasp.  I don’t think any practical need can account for it.  I don’t think any animal drive can explain it.  No animal falls in love or writes profound romantic poetry or sees sex as a symbol of ultimate meaning of life because no animal is made in the image of God.  Not just sexuality, but human sexuality is that image.   And human sexuality is a foretaste of that self-giving, losing and finding the whole self, a foretaste of that oneness and manyness that is the very life of the Trinity and the joy of the Trinity.   And that is why we long for it without knowing it.  That is why we tremble to stand outside of ourselves in the other.  That is why we long to give our whole selves, body and soul, because we are images of God the sexual being. We love the other sex because God loves God.  And this early love is so passionate because heaven is full of passion, of energy, and dynamism.  That is one of the reasons God invented families.  You can’t love or hate anybody as much as your own family.  Families are full of passion.  Heaven is not boring or blasé.  It is passionate because God is passionate.  Jesus Christ who is our window to God was not a stoic or a Scribe or a Scholar.  He was a lover.  I think we correctly deny that God has passions in a passive sense.  He is not moved or driven or conditioned by them as we are.  He cannot fall in love for the same reason the ocean cannot get wet.  He is love.  (Peter Kreeft in a lecture given entitled “Sex in Heaven” 47:15 into the lecture)

 

Playwright George Bernard Shaw writes, “This is true joy in life, the being used up for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”  (Francis Chan, Crazy Love, 109)

 

The worth and excellency of a soul is to be measured by the object of its love; he who loveth mean and sordid things doth thereby become basé and vile; but a noble and well-placed affection doth advance and improve the spirit unto a conformity with the perfections which it loves. (J. I. Packer; The Life of God in the Soul of Man”, 68)

 

Marx, you’ll recall, called religion “an opiate” for the people.  Yet Marx had it exactly backwards, at least as far as his words pertain to Christianity.  Opium deadens the senses; Christianity makes them come alive.  Our faith can infuse a deadened or crippled marriage with meaning, purpose, and–in what we so graciously receive from God–fulfillment.  Christianity doesn’t leave us in an apathetic stupor–it raises us and our relationships from the dead!  It pours zest and strength and purpose into an otherwise wasted life.  (Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage, 151)

 

A man’s usefulness depends upon his living up to his ideals insofar as he can.  It is hard to fail but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.  All daring and courage, all iron endurance of misfortune, make for a finer, nobler type of manhood.  Only those are fit to live who do not fear to die, and none are fit to die who have shrunk from the joy of life and the duty of life. (Teddy Roosevelt quoted by Stu Weber; Four Pillars of a Man’s Heart, 154)

 

Here is a truth that reaches into the deepest part of what it means to be a person . . .  That we are made to “have dominion” within an appropriate domain of reality.   This is the core of the likeness or image of God in us and is the basis of the destiny for which we were formed.   We are, all of us, never-ceasing spiritual beings with a unique eternal calling to count for good in God’s great universe . . .  In creating human beings God made them to rule, to reign, to have dominion in a limited sphere.  Only so can they be persons.  (Dallas Willard in The Divine Conspiracy) (John Eldredge, The Journey of Desire; 154)

 

If our times are in someone else’s hand–and we know they are often beyond our control–whom would we choose to manage them rather than God?  Our options are narrow since all human agencies–family, friends, experts, governments–are subject to most of our own limitations.  We can attribute our circumstances to chance and let the numbers come up as they will, like the throw of the dice.  We can blame the devil for everything bad and live in terror of his next prank or plot.  Neither luck nor Satan presents credentials worthy of our trust or fear or love.

Koheleth offers us more than a measure of wisdom when he called us from fretting over life’s times to loyalty to life’s Sovereign.  We cannot know all that God’s hand is doing in the mysterious ebb and flow of our circumstances.  But the daily supply of grace in the simple gifts of life tells us that his hand is a good one.  And in that message we find joy and comfort.  (David Hubbard, Mastering the OT: Ecclesiastes, 110)

 

While men live on the earth they must rest in His goodness and sovereignty, seeking in all they do to discover how God intends for them to live before Him, according to the times and seasons of their lives.  This is the life of faith, of waiting upon the Lord, and of serving Him and His purposes in everything we do.  In these verses Solomon gives us a glimpse ahead to the lifestyle of the redeemed who, as they await the consummation of all things, look to God through Jesus Christ and offer their lives up with gratitude in service to Him each day.  (T. M. Moore, The Christian Worldview Journal, May 18, 2011)

 

No thought is worth thinking

that is not the thought of God.

No sight is worth seeing

unless it is seen through His eyes.

No breath is worth breathing

without thanks to the One

Whose very breath it is.

It is this continual recognition of the hand of God in ordinary events that fills the springs of enjoyment and gives lasting pleasure.  (Ray Stedman, Is This All There Is to Life?, 55)

 

D-  There is One Who can restore man: Jesus.  (Eccl 3:22b; see also:  Jer 31:31-34; Ez 11:19-20; 36:24-28; Jn 3:1-21; 6:28-29; 8:36; Rom 6:23; 7:1-9; 8:1-17, 28-30; 1 Cor 15:21-22, 48-49; 2 Cor 3:7-14; 5:17; Gal 3:1-29; 5:18-25; Eph 1:15-22; 4:17-32; Col 1:15-23; 2:6-15; ch 3 (3:10); 2 Tm 1:10; Heb 1:1-3; 8:4-13; 10:1-17; 1 Pt 1:23; 1 Jn 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1-5, 18)

 

God adopts all who believe in Christ into the family of the faithful.  Through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, he conforms them to the image of Christ (Rom 8:29).  In this sense, we fill the earth with God’s image as we spread the message of Christ throughout the world.  We fulfill the cultural mandate by completing the gospel mandate.  (Richard L. Pratt, Jr., Designed for Dignity, 28-29)

 

Knowing God without knowing our own wretchedness makes for pride.  Knowing our own wretchedness without knowing God makes for despair.  Knowing Jesus Christ strikes the balance because he shows us both God and our own wretchedness.  —Blaise Pascal

 

The fulfillment of the purpose of God in man’s restoration is accomplished in and by the God-man, Jesus Christ, and a wholly new turn is thereby given to anthropology; for (a) Jesus is Himself the divine Son; (b) He is as such the express image of God; (c) He is the one of and by and for whom all things are made; (d) God Himself becomes man in Him; (e) man, reconstituted in Christ, is thus advanced to a destiny and inheritance of sonship that transcends the original glory of creation.  (Geoffrey W. Bromiley, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol 1, 135)

 

That doctrine, if you take it as the Bible sets it forth as a whole, involves three great acts of imputation.  First, Adam’s first sin is imputed to his descendants.  Second, the sins of saved people are imputed to Christ.  Third, Christ’s righteousness is imputed to saved people.  (J. Gresham Machen, The Christian View of Man, 216)

 

Seen within the context of grace, the NT view of man is neither fully pessimistic nor largely optimistic, but rather melioristic.  Man is not what he may become; he is dependent and unfulfilled, and no genuine realization of his potentialities is possible apart from the restoration of his fractured relationship with his Creator through Jesus Christ.  Man normally exists in society, in human community.  Within this context, he is loved by an everlasting Heart which seeks to draw him into a higher community, through the transformation of his nature by the agency of the divine Spirit, for whose indwelling he has a basic capacity which survived the Fall.

In the Incarnation, the eternal Logos appeared in human form to show what redeemed man might become.  In One who was “very God and very man” beholds the Image to which he is to be conformed through being transformed by Him who, for us men, shared our common life in the days of His flesh.  In Him man can glimpse human nature as it ought to be, and as it will be when He brings many sons to glory.  (Merrill C. Tenney, Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, Vol. 4, 53)

 

As the God-Man, Christ is the prototype of the new, redeemed humanity.  The Christian is the person who in repentance and faith, by the Holy Spirit, is identified with the Christ who died and rose again for him.  He is dead, and the life he now lives is that of Christ in him (Gal 2:20).  He is a new creature (or creation); the old things have passed and new things have come (2 Cor 5:17).  This redemption has an ethical implication.  He is born again in Christ, and hence the whole movement of his life is to be one of being made conformable to Christ.  Every thought is to be brought captive to Christ’s obedience (2 Cor 10:5).  The mind of Christ is to be his mind (Phil 2:5).  As the mind is renewed, so conduct should be transformed.  The old man is to be put off with his wicked works, the new man put on, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness (Eph 4:22ff.; Col 3:9ff.).  The process of the Christian life is that of the fashioning of the image of Christ in His people.  But there is also an eschatological implication.  As Paul says in 1 Cor 15:49, at the last day we shall finally bear the image of the heavenly.  The Lord Jesus “will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (Phil 3:21).  “We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 Jn 3:2).  The original purpose of God, that man be created in His own image and after His likeness, will thus be brought to perfect and glorious fulfillment in the new creation, when the redeemed people of God bear the image of their Lord and Head, who bore the image of sinful man for them, and who is Himself the express image of God.  (Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol 2, 805)

 

The unique glory of Christ the man did not come from a negative struggle against warring forces within Him.  It came from an unquestioning surrender to God.  And the way open to the Christian is the same.  By his knowledge of Christ, he knows what God is like.  Only by an act of the will, only by a surrender of his whole being to God, can he make a start toward becoming what, on a smaller scale, he is meant to be–an alter Christus.  (Chad Walsh, Early Christians of the 21st Century, 71)

 

Each of us, to use C. S. Lewis’ words, is born “a Son of Adam or a Daughter of Eve,” not a child of God.  Sin’s poison passes from generation to generation through the bloodstream of humanity.  As a result, each child’s spirit is brought into the world stillborn.  The only remedy is to be “born again” (Jn 3:3). (Charles R. Swindoll; You and Your Child, 4)

 

THE CHRISTIAN’S PERSONAL IDENTITY:  I believe that in Christ Jesus my sins have been fully and freely forgiven, and I am a new creation.  I have died with Christ to my old identity in Adam.  I have been raised with Christ to a new life.  I am seated in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.  God has given to me the full righteousness of Jesus Christ.  I am joined with angels, archangels, and all the saints in heaven.  God is my Father, and if He is for me, who can be against me?  Because of who I am in Christ, I am more than a conqueror.  In fact, I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me.  Christ Jesus is my life!  Everything in my life here on this earth is working out for good according to the purposes of God.  Christ Jesus Himself dwells within me.  I have been called according to the purposes of God.  These things I believe and confess, because God, my Father in heaven, says they are true.  Amen! (Don Matzat; Christ Esteem, 96)

 

This complex chapter is the heart of Solomon’s argument.  He insists that men are made for eternity and that they can only bear up under the pressures, vicissitudes, and uncertainties of life by resting in the sovereign care of God and trusting in His wisdom and power.  “Under the sun” life has no meaning.  But “under the heavens” men can find joy, happiness, and meaning in even the most mundane and routine of tasks.

This is the message believers must boldly declare to our secular age.  Like Solomon counseling his wayward son, we must engage our unbelieving neighbors in good faith, winsomely, with respect and passion, in order to lead them to trace out their unbelieving worldviews to their logical and tragic conclusions.  But how can lost and hopeless men break free of the confines and blinders of their false worldview?  Only the Gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to deliver men from death to life (Rom 1:16, 17).  (T. M. Moore, The Christian Worldview Journal, May 22, 2011)

 

God gave humans the cultural mandate to rule the creation as benevolent kings (Gn 9:2; Ps 8:5-8; Heb 2:5-9).  Natural man can rule the animal (Gn 1:28) and plant (Gn 1:29) kingdoms, but he cannot rule the heavenly powers, especially Satan (Gn 3; Eph 6:10-12).  Only the Last Adam, the very image of God’s Person (Col 1:15; Heb 1:3) and those united with Him can do that (3:15; Mt 4:1-11; Col 3:10).  (Luder Whitlock, Jr. New Geneva Study Bible, 8)

 

The Image of God

Scripture teaches (Gn 1:26, 27, echoed in 5:1; 9:6; 1 Cor 11:7; Jas 3:9) that God made man and woman in His own image, so that human beings are like God as no other earthly creatures are.  The special dignity of being human is that as men and women we may reflect and reproduce at our own creaturely level the holy ways of God.  Human beings were made for this purpose, and in one sense we are truly human to the extent that we fulfill it.

The scope of God’s image in humanity is not specified in Gn 1:26, 27, but the context of the passage helps to define it.  Gn 1:1-25 sets forth God as personal, rational (having intelligence and will), creative, ruling over the world He has made, and morally admirable in that all He creates is good).  Plainly, God’s image will reflect these qualities.  Verses 28-30 show God blessing the newly created humans and setting them to rule creation as His representatives and deputies.  The human capacity for communication and relationship with both God and other humans appears as a further facet of the image.

God’s image in humanity at creation, then, consisted in: (a) existence as a “soul” or “spirit” (Gn 2:7), that is, as personal and self-conscious, with a God-like capacity for knowledge, thought, and action; (b) being morally upright, a quality lost at the Fall but now being progressively restored in Christ (Eph 4:24; Col 3:10); (c) dominion over the environment; (d) the human body as the means through which we experience reality, express ourselves, and exercise dominion; and (e) the God-given capacity for eternal life.

The Fall diminished God’s image, not only in Adam and Eve, but in all their descendants, the whole human race.  We retain the image structurally, in the sense that we remain human beings, but not functionally, for we are now slaves to sin, unable to use our powers to mirror God’s holiness.  Regeneration begins the process of restoring God’s moral image in our lives.  But not until we are fully sanctified and glorified shall we reflect God perfectly in thought and action as we were made to do and as the incarnate Son of God in His humanity actually did (Jn 4:34; 5:30; 6:38; 8:29, 46).  (Luder Whitlock, Jr. New Geneva Study Bible, 9)

 

(Col 3:10) In Christ, God’s second Adam (1 Cor 15:20-28, 45-49), the human race is reconstituted.  Each of the attributes Paul lists in v. 12 can be traced to the character of God generally, or to Christ specifically.  This demonstrates how literally Paul understood the idea of believers taking on the “image” of their Creator.  (Luder Whitlock, Jr. New Geneva Study Bible, 1890)

 

Purpose in Life: Staying on God’s “easel” so He can use each circumstance to perfect Christ’s character in me.

 

Now the whole offer which Christianity makes is this: that we can, if we let God have His way; come to share in the life of Christ.  If we do, we shall then be sharing a life which was begotten, not made, which always has existed and always will exist.  Christ is the Son of God.  If we share in this kind of life we also shall be sons of God.  We shall love the Father as He does and the Holy Ghost will arise in us.  He came to this world and became a man in order to spread to other men the kind of life He has–by what I call “good infection.”  Every Christian is to become a little Christ.  The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else. (C. S. Lewis; Mere Christianity, bk. IV, 153)

 

The image of God in which man was and is made has been variously explained in detail. Although scholars may differ on the nuances of the phrase, there is general agreement that it has to do with dignity, destiny, and freedom.

The assertion that man is made in God’s image shows each man his true dignity and worth. As God’s image-bearer, he merits infinite respect. God’s claims on us must be taken with total seriousness. No human being should ever be thought of as simply a cog in a machine, or mere means to an end.

The assertion points also to each man’s true destiny. Our Maker so designed us that our nature finds final satisfaction and fulfillment only in a relationship of responsive Godlikeness—which means, precisely, that state of correspondence between our acts and God’s will which we call obedience.  Living that is obedient will thus be teleological—progressively realizing our telos (Greek for “end” or “goal”).

Also the assertion confirms the genuineness of each man’s freedom. Experience tells us that we are free, in the sense that we make real choices between alternatives and could have chosen differently, and theology agrees.  Self-determining freedom of choice is what sets God and his rational creatures apart from, say, birds and bees, as moral beings. (James Packer; Your Father Loves You)

 

People, created in the image of God, should act differently from animals.  Unbelievers, who have lost the true righteousness and holiness that were a part of that image, cannot be expected to do so (though they may mask their animal-like tendencies under a facade of manners, etc.); but there is no excuse for this in believers in whom the image of God is being restored by the Spirit (see Eph 4:17-34; Col 3).  (Jay E. Adams, Life under the Son, 38)

 

The Preacher also tells us to “do good”–a phrase that should be taken in its moral and ethical sense.  To “do good” is to do good works.  This does not mean that we could ever earn our way to Heaven, of course, but it does mean that we should to the good work that God has given us to do, for as long as he gives us to do it.  Out of gratitude for what God has done for us in Jesus, forgiving all our sins, we should get busy doing the work of his kingdom.  Indeed, this is the very reason for our existence: we are God’s “workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph 2:10).  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Ecclesiastes, 94-95)

 

The ONLY way that mankind can once again obtain his sinless perfection is through the One who came as mankind’s substitute who fulfilled the purpose of mankind’s existence: namely the Son of God, Jesus the Christ.  As mankind, by faith, finds itself  “in Christ” the Spirit of Christ can begin the process of restoration and renewal to once again allow man to become everything that God originally created and designed him to be. — Pastor Keith

 

Adam, the representative man, prepares us for Christ.  Christ is more than a substitute for Adam, a stand-in, as it were, to succeed where Adam failed.  Christ, who is the Omega, the goal of human history and of created humanity, is also the Alpha, the true Adam, Head of the new and true humanity.  He is “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” (Col 1:15), for He is not only the Prince of creation; He is also the Creator.  His image-bearing infinitely exceeds that of Adam, for as the eternal Son, He is one with the Father.  At the last, Adam’s created sonship can only reflect the greater Sonship of the divine model.  The apostle Paul rejoices that the sonship we gain in Christ far exceeds what we lost in Adam (Rom 8:14-17).  (Edmund P. Clowney, The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament, 22)

 

Worship point:  Don’t you know who you are?   Don’t you know what God created you to be?   Don’t you know the noble creature you were designed to be?  Don’t you know the royal work God created you to do?   Have you failed to realize the exalted countenance and peace you were made to enjoy?   When you begin to realize what you are supposed to be, and then compare that with where you really are; you not only become more aware of God’s grace, patience, mercy, forgiveness and love, but recognizing this also causes one to worship the Creator God.  So worship!

 

Spiritual Challenge:  Don’t ever be content with who you are until your character, nature and life is one of total love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  In other words . . . until you are conformed to the image of Christ.

 

“That we put values, principles and ideals above our very being is what places us above animals.”    —Dr. Laura Schlessinger

 

The cultural environment for a human holocaust is present whenever any society can be misled into defining individuals as less than human and therefore devoid of value and respect.  (William Brennan as quoted by Ronald Reagan; Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation; 29)

 

Tell me what you are committed to, and I’ll tell you what you will be in twenty years.  We become whatever we are committed to.  (Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life, 180)

 

Had Adam and Eve retained their original state, they never would have died.  But Eve and then Adam yielded to the serpent’s temptation, and death came into the world.  Before that moment, they were in a beautiful, pristine state.  They existed on a level far above the present condition of the human race.  It is difficult to imagine what man was like then by viewing him as he is now.  It would require something like trying to reconstruct the original version of an aircraft from its wreckage.  If we knew nothing of flying, we would hardly suspect that it had once soared above the earth.  The material would be the same; the capability of flight, however, would be lost. (David Breese, Living For Eternity, Moody Press, 1988, 99.)

 

Quotes to Note:

Adam’s Pre-Fall Desires and Fallen Man’s Desires

Adam’s God-Given Sinless Desires                  Fallen Man’s Idolatrous Desires

Glorified God and Mirrored His                       Glorify Man’s Own Image and

Image by:                                                                           Ignore God by:

Ruling over creating, thereby bringing       Seeking control over nature and

honor to God and joy to himself.                     others to satisfy his craving for self-

respect and honor.

 

Physically becoming one with his                    Using his sexuality to pursue his own

spouse to enhance unity and joy and          pleasure and power.  Using his

to produce children who will love,               children to glorify himself and build

serve, and worship God.                                         his own kingdom.

 

Subduing nature through joyful work          Exalting his own significance, comfort,

for the pleasure of God.                                          and worth by earning money and/or prestige.

 

Thankfully stewarding the resources of      Greedily consuming the creation for his

creation to sustain his own and others’     own pleasure and mismanaging his

lives.                                                                                      resources.

 

Joyfully investigating God’s sovereign         Striving to beautify himself and his

design and order by observing and               surroundings and ignoring God’s

classifying it.                                                                   beauty.

 

Happily engaging in a concentrated              Pursuing self-focused work or time-

time of rest and fellowship, primarily         wasting recreations instead of God-

with His Creator and secondarily with        centered fellowship.

others.

 

Using God’s gift of communication to          Trying to remake his spouse into his

become one with his spouse so                        own image and using his spouse to

that they, together, would complete          make him feel loved, needed, and

God’s work, finding joy in their                         accepted.  Using the gift of speech to

differences and pleasing Him.                             obtain the respect he craves.

 

Joyfully joining with others in order to     Joining with others so he can

complete God’s work for their mutual       overcome feelings of “alienation” and

benefit.                                                                               obtain power.

 

Glorifying and enjoying God in                          Glorifying and enjoying himself in

everything he thinks, says, and does            everything he thinks, says, and does

for his own good and God’s pleasure.          for his own good and personal pleasure.

(Elyse Fitzpatrick, Idols of the Heart, p. 135)

 

Adam’s Pre-Fall Desires and Jesus’ Perfect Desires

Adam’s God-Given Sinless Desires                 

glorified God and mirrored His                          Jesus’ Perfect Desires glorified

Image by:                                                                           God and mirrored His Image by:

Ruling over creation, thereby bringing       Showing that He ruled over creation,

honor and respect to God and joy to          Thereby bringing honor and respect to

himself.                                                                               His Father.

 

Physically becoming one with his                    Becoming a Man and reproducing

spouse to enhance unity and joy.                    Himself in disciples who would fill the

Producing children who would love             earth with fruit through His bride, the

and worship God.                                                       church.

 

Subduing nature through joyful work,         Subduing all nature by His work and

accomplished for the pleasure of God.       cultivating a field for His Father’s

pleasure.

 

Thankfully stewarding the resources            Depending upon His Father for His

of creation to sustain his and others’           bodily needs.  Meeting the true needs

lives.                                                                                      of others.

 

Enjoying the world by observing and           Working so that the beauty and order

classifying its beauty, design, and                   in His Father would be seen in and by

order.                                                                                   others.

 

Happily engaging in a time of rest and        Worshiping Him on the Sabbath

fellowship with His Creator and others.     through prayer, fellowship, and works

of mercy.

 

Using communication to become one        Communicating with His bride, the

with his spouse so that they, together,     church, and laying down His life for her.

would complete all of God’s work, find     Bestowing upon her diverse gifts so

joy in their differences, and please Him.  that she might complete the building of

His Kingdom.

 

Joining with others to complete God’s      Enjoying fellowship and relationship

work and for mutual benefit and                      with people and founding the church.

fellowship.

 

Glorifying and enjoying God in everything                                               Being One with Him in purpose and

for his own good and God’s pleasure.          love by always doing the things that pleased Him.

(Elyse Fitzpatrick, Idols of the Heart, 137)

 

Solomon wants to tell us that even when we don’t understand everything God is doing, we cannot let what we cannot know destroy what we can enjoy.  You can’t be God and control circumstances.  There’s nothing you can do about that.  So don’t let it negate your present enjoyment of life.  (Tommy Nelson, A Life Well Lived, 52)

 

Let us turn to the simple teaching of the Word of God on the creation of man.  There are phases of development which cannot be accounted for except as God’s intervention.  For no theory of science had bridged the gap between nothing and matter, between inanimate matter and life, between the animals and man.  The first gap was bridged when God brought forth the material creation.  The second was bridged when He created animal life, as recorded in the first chapter of Genesis; and the third was bridged when he created man in His own image.  (Donald Grey Barnhouse, God’s Grace, 18)

 

What we do in this life matters.  The work of God endures forever, including whatever good work we are busy doing in the name of Jesus.  Therefore our lives and our labor are not in vain.  The same God who put eternity into our hearts will make everything beautiful, including things past that now seem lost or broken.  All in his good time.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Ecclesiastes, 98)

 

The conclusion is a further summary of the refrain that God has his day-by-day plan for our lives and that we can find the joy of fulfillment in it.  We shall not be brought back again for a second chance to cooperate with God in doing his will on this side of eternity (v. 22).  The context suggests that we cannot be brought back from the state of death at some future time (cf. 9:4-6).  An alternative interpretation is that we must make the most of the present in order to please God.  We cannot count on the future, since we do not know what it is.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 5, 1164)

 

Away with arrogance, then!  We do not control our future, God does.  And away with anxiety!  The God who steers us into his future is a God whose trustworthiness has been thoroughly proven–by Jesus Christ and by all who have truly followed him.  (David Hubbard, Mastering the OT: Ecclesiastes, 111)

 

a.  Man was created morally undefiled, a special creation at God’s hand.

b.  He was placed under a clearly-understood order of probation, with a specific prohibition at its heart.

c.  Man’s initial disobedience brought swift consequences of a radically negative sort, both upon the first pair and upon their progeny.

d.  Man’s original “image of God” became disfigured and distorted, while at the same time God left mankind capable of some measure of response and of hope.

e.  Evil became a constant and malignant element in the whole of human experience.

f.  Evil centered in an imbalance in the relation between God and man, so that man asserted a false claim of autonomy, and chronically pitted himself against the deliverances of conscience, of seer and prophet, and of the entire pattern of divine Revelation.

g.  Evil brought social and interpersonal strife, disorganizing human relationships and corrupting all human institutions.

h.  Overt evil-doing objectified a deep-seated disturbance within man, a disorientation which was hereditary in nature and malignant in its intricate pattern of manifestations.  (Merrill C. Tenney, Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, Vol. 4, 51)

 

The glory of God is a human being fully alive!  St. Irenaeus

 

Leave a Reply