Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Ecclesiastes: Life Under the Sun

"I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind" (Ecclesiastes 1:14).

The phrase “under the sun” is a constant refrain in Ecclesiastes. It occurs 29 times in the book. To understand it we need to go back to Genesis 1. There we find that the sky is described as a firmament over the earth and as a kind of symbolic barrier between heaven and earth. In that firmament, God put the sun, moon, and stars. To live “under the sun” is to live in this present world.

If a person’s entire worldview is drawn just from things "under the sun" and he does not acknowledge the heavenly world, then his life will be full of pessimism and despair. Life under the sun is indeed cyclical to some extent. The sun does rise and set. The weather does come around the same way every year. Indeed, according to Genesis 1, the sun, moon, and stars were appointed to regulate these cycles.

Genesis 1 and the remainder of Scripture show us however that the world under the sun is not the entirety of creation. There is also the created angelic heaven “above the sun,” and outside of the creation there is God Himself. In order to get a true perspective regarding what goes on under the sun, we need a vantage point beyond the sun.

The philosophy that sees things only in terms of this world, under the sun, is called “secularism,” after the Latin word secula, which means “world.” Looking only at the world under the sun, the secularist comes to the conclusion that life is meaningless. It is only the man or woman of faith who can look at the world from above the sun and make some sense out of the apparent treadmill of life on earth.

The Bible gives us that heavenly perspective. We have received a message from beyond this world. From our perspective above the sun, we can see that the treadmill is really moving toward a destiny, that the cycles are really expanding spirals, and that life does have meaning, even if we do not personally see exactly where our present circumstances fit into the great plan of God. Life may appear meaningless and pointless, but we confidently affirm that it is not.

A person’s worldview determines thinking and ultimately behavior. There is usually an observable consistency between worldview and lifestyle. Since this is true for the secularist and the Christian, ask yourself how consistent your Christian lifestyle is with what you say you believe.