Thursday, March 12, 2015

Ecclesiastes, Day 4 Readings

Justice is Slow and Justice is Imperfect  

Today's first reading is a meditation on justice.  It seems that good actions should produce good results and bad actions should produce bad results.  However, this does not usually happen immediately.  So sometimes the good are punished and the bad are rewarded (or at least they seem to be).  Then again, every human must sleep and thus cannot possibly know all that God knows (so perhaps God's justice is perfect, but imperceptibly so).

Read Ecclesiastes 8:1-17  (NIV)   (NRSV)   (CEB)
[links to Bible Gateway open in a new window]

The second reading continues Qoheleth's meditation on justice, recognizing that chance is as important in how people live as the consequences of how they live.  Still, it is better to accept this and live life fully; after all, there is nothing productive that comes after it.

This attitude, that death is the end of life, frequently troubles Christians.  Through the centuries, some have even suggested that Ecclesiastes should be removed from the Bible as heretical and atheistic.  This seems far too harsh.  The possibility of an afterlife is unimportant to Qoheleth (though the existence and power of God is consistent and explicit) because the afterlife doesn't occur on earth.  Qoheleth wants to know what makes this life meaningful, in this place, using the best wisdom and knowledge that a human being can attain.  In some ways, it seems that Jesus -- in his earthly life and ministry -- exhibited Qoheleth's approach to life, though with a strong belief in a better life in the forthcoming Kingdom of God.

Read Ecclesiastes 9:1-18  (NIV)   (NRSV)   (CEB)
[links to Bible Gateway open in a new window]

Reading the Bible in Its Entirety

If you are planning to read the Bible in its entirety, you should read Ecclesiastes 8-10 today.