Life’s Enigmas (Part 2)

So I turned to consider wisdom and madness and folly. For what can the man do who comes after the king? Only what has already been done. Then I saw that there is more gain in wisdom than in folly, as there is more gain in light than in darkness. The wise person has his eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. (Ecclesiastes 2:12-14 ESV). Let’s begin at the beginning. The Preacher asserts, “Light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to see the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:17). In this book it is important to remember that to be “under the sun” is to be identified with the realm of human life and all the results of the curse of original sin. “Under the sun” is the sphere of what is universally true of all humanity, believer and non-believer alike, throughout all time since the fall of mankind. In our world, the Preacher says, “the sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises” (Ecclesiastes 1:5). Morning light triumphs over the darkness of night; and, in the midst of the blackness we call life, the sun has already begun to rise. The Preacher lived in the days of shepherds’ fires and oil lamps, when the dark of night was really dark, and when travelers were often guided only by the light of the moon. In those days, the sun’s sweetness came in the way it let people function, setting the rhythm of sleep and work and seasons and years and identifying times for both celebration and burials. In the first work week of Genesis 1, the day did not end in the dark, for “There was evening and there was morning, day one” (Genesis 1:5). According to God’s timing, light always wins, as dawn gives rise to noon. So it is in this book. Look at our reading again. In verse 11 he writes: “Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.” Because everything in the old, cursed creation ends in death, there is no real gain under the sun. Nevertheless, when the Preacher considered the place of wisdom and madness and folly, he reasoned that wisdom was far to be preferred. He will go on to help us understand that the gain in wisdom and light relates to a life beyond life under the sun. That helps us in this life. This puts “our eyes in our head.” It prevents us from stumbling around in the darkness. That, in turn, helps us understand the enigmas of this life. The things that don’t make good sense to us here are hard to understand simply because we don’t have enough light to see further. Wisdom gives us a brighter light. That’s the real key in finding joy in this life. Even when there seems to be nothing but tragedy and challenge, wisdom shows us that the end is better than the beginning (cf. Ecclesiastes 7:8). That’s where we are going tomorrow. Today, commit yourself to being a student. Seek wisdom through the...

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