“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death...Death is swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26, 54
"The greater the sin, the greater the mercy, the deeper the death and the brighter the rebirth.” - C. S. Lewis
"This story...has the very taste of primary truth." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Monday, May 19, 2008

Whispers of Eternity: Ecclesiastes

I recently wrote about the “reason of the heart” and the fact that we know that there is more to reality than this short life and this world. Here I want follow up on that idea, particularly in connection with the book of Ecclesiastes and C. S. Lewis’s extraordinary essay “The Weight of Glory,” available here in its entirety.

First, the book of Ecclesiastes has a lot to say concerning this idea. The author of Ecclesiastes, thought to be Solomon, considers all the components of our earthly lives and rejects them as meaningless apart from God. Success, hard work, advancement, and wealth by the world’s standards are rejected as pointless and meaningless in and of themselves.

“All things are wearisome…The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing….there is nothing new under the sun.”

“I though in my heart, ‘Come now, I will test you with pleasure and find out what is good.’…I wanted to see what was worthwhile for men to do under heaven during the few days of their lives…I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me…I denied myself nothing my eyes desired…Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”

“‘The fate of the fool will overtake me also. What then do I gain by being wise?’ I said in my heart, ‘This too is meaningless.’”

“I hated all the things I had toiled for under then sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the work into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless.”

“Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.”

“Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb, and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand.”

Is this message not as true today as it was in the ancient world? Do we not still seek fulfillment, satisfaction, and lasting meaning? Do we not yearn for that hidden place where the grass is ever green? Does it not still elude us?

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