Today’s Scripture Focus: Ecclesiastes 9:1-10, 10:10
Every man and woman, regardless of race, religion, status, or standing has one thing in common. All will face physical death. But what happens after we die? This is not a new question. In the world of the Old Testament (the ancient near east), many people groups believed that life and death were cyclical, just like the seasons of the year or the movement of the heavenly bodies. In other words, once a person died they were merely reborn in another body. How a person lived their life determined what kind of body they would have in the next life (bad—animal, good– human, really good—god.)
Ecclesiastes offers a different perspective on death. You only live one time, then you stay dead forever. There is no reward or punishment—just a place of “the dead”. Ecclesiastes is written in the voice of Solomon. Having had an extremely successful life, wealth beyond measure, favor in the eyes of his subjects and other nations, and a reputation as the wisest man in the world—he is now facing the same fate as the fool, the failure, and the slave. All alike will face the exact same destiny—death. Solomon says that in the place of the dead all people “know nothing”. In other words, there will be no memory of life on earth upon which to reflect.
Throughout Ecclesiastes, the Teacher gives consistent advice in light of life’s bleak outlook—work hard at something you are good at doing, fear God as someone whose ways cannot be understood but who is ultimately in control, and eat, drink, and be merry as often as you can. This is pretty good advise if the only thing we have is this life. With this in mind, the Teacher gives principles for making the most out of your work in chapter 10. These are given in the form of proverbs. For example, 10:10 uses the illustration of trying to cut with a dull axe rather than taking a few more minutes to sharpen it first to encourage the laborer to work smart, not hard
Today, we live in the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus and His followers taught us that death is not the end, that there is punishment for wickedness after death, but that through faith in Christ we have the hope of eternal reward. The understanding that what we do in this life affects what happens after we die changes everything! Suddenly, we discover that life is more that working, playing, and merely fearing God. We can have a rich, meaningful part in God’s Kingdom both now and when life is over. While it remains true that all will die and that life on earth is meant to be enjoyed, we live in hope that death is not the end. Through Christ, passing from this life becomes a new beginning.
- Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
- Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
- Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.
What do you think happens to us after we die? Do you spend much time thinking about it? How does the thought of your own death make you feel?
Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?
What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?