Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Ecclesiastes 7:2,4 The House of Mourning

At times I come across a viewpoint that is so odd to me that it catches me off-guard and leaves me momentarily speechless. This happened again when someone felt that the God of the Bible was emotionally unstable and grossly contradicted himself. In every case I can think of that is similar to this one, it is usually a superficial reading of the passages coupled with a complete misunderstanding of the context and intent that leads people to wrong conclusions about God.

Ecclesiastes 7:2,4 says that being in the “house of mourning” is better than rejoicing. How can that be seeing as we serve the "happy God"? Besides that, elsewhere the Bible tells us to always rejoice. How is sad better than happy?

In this particular case, comparing Ecc.7 with the other scriptures is like comparing apples to oranges. Although apples and oranges are both fruits, they are very different. Similarly, although both are scriptural ideas in the Bible, the intent of both are totally different points.

Take for example 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19. The context makes it very clear that we should rejoice in relationship to our faith, our hope, and comfort from God, Christ, and, by extension, the Bible.

But since the verse about the “house of mourning” is found in Ecclesiastes, let’s stay in that book and compare it to Ecc.3:12,13. In this latter passage, the writer concludes that God indeed wants man to rejoice by seeing the good outcome of all his hard work because it is a gift from God. Now, when we get a gift from someone we love and that loves us, we tend to take very good care of it because we don’t want the giver to conclude we are unappreciative. What would you say is the right way to demonstrate appreciation for a gift God gives us? Would it be through unbridled, drunken parties? Or, in appreciation of our life and relationship with God, something a little less extreme and dangerous to our health? In all things then, we need to remember how our Father Jehovah would feel if we treated our own life cheaply.

So now lets examine Ecclesiastes 7. The point it is making is appreciating the final “eventuality” and uncertainties of our present short  life. Those who are always partying pay no attention to their accountability before God. They may vaguely acknowledge there is a God, but do not feel compelled to live their lives in accord with that knowledge. Living only for the present, they are ill equipped to deal with trials and never used the death of someone they knew as an object lesson.

However, those who take time to reflect on the frailness of life (going to “the house of mourning”), come to appreciate the value of developing a close relationship with their heavenly Father. This relationship causes a person to rejoice in a wholesome way that recognizes God is the source of life and will be the source of any future life we have. These ones not only enjoy (in moderation) the pleasures being human have to offer, but also rejoice in the hope that if/when they die, they are assured of being resurrected back to life--a life that is considerably better than what we now have.

In short then, Ecclesiastes 7 speaks of those who never give time or thought to more serious matters that would affect their relationship with their creator. In contrast, the other scriptures cited rightly encourage us to be happy because of our God caring for us and the confidence we have that he appreciates the time and energy we give to our relationship with him.

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