A “HEART” CONDITION
Lord, thank You for making me superior to the animals.
Read ECCLESIASTES 3:16–22
16 And I saw something else under the sun:
In the place of judgment—wickedness was there,
in the place of justice—wickedness was there.
17 I said to myself,
“God will bring into judgment
both the righteous and the wicked,
for there will be a time for every activity,
a time to judge every deed.”
18 I also said to myself, “As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. 19 Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath[a]; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. 20 All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. 21 Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?”
22 So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?
a Ecclesiastes 3:19 Or spirit
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can ﬁgure out. But I, God, search the heart and examine the mind” (Jer. 17:9,10a, The Message). How is your heart?
Not only does unrighteousness flourish, but wickedness prevails in the very places one expects to see wrongs redressed (16). Are things so very different today? Haven’t we been scandalized by corruption in the highest places—government, the courts and even the church? Haven’t we wondered, “Why doesn’t God do something?” The Teacher reminds himself—and us—that while God’s judgment is certain (“God will”), universal (“both the righteous and the wicked”) and comprehensive (“every deed”), it is scheduled for an indeterminate future time (17). Although the books may not balance now, a divine audit is in the cards down the road! Here is both a promise of justice for the righteous and a warning of justice for the unrighteous.
Corruption in institutions boils down to sinful individuals, but is the Teacher saying that man and beast are no different (18–20)? Both are made of dust. Verse 21 points to a signiﬁcant difference in man’s ﬁnal destiny, though a fuller answer to the Teacher’s question comes only later—“the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it” (Eccles. 12:7). The tragedy—resulting in widespread injustice under the sun—is that people choose to live as if such a distinction did not exist, as if their ultimate destiny were no different to that of animals. (This idea is echoed in Psalm 49, as pointed out by Michael Eaton, TOTC: Ecclesiastes, 87.)
We hear repeatedly, “It’s only human to sin,” but is that true? The use of expressions like “animal behavior” or “beastly” to describe grievous acts of wrongdoing reflect an instinctive recognition that sin actually makes us less human, even inhuman. To be less human is a failure to reflect God’s image. To use and enjoy earthly blessings responsibly (22) is to reflect more fully the image of God.
Eternal God, remembering that ”dust to dust” is not my ﬁnal destiny, help me to live life fully and faithfully, nurturing in my heart a sense of eternity.
Lord, I live every day with the awareness that there is a day of reckoning in the future.