So this morning I felt that God was bringing home to me the full force of what I read yesterday in Ecclesiastes 4:3. “Better …is he who has not yet been, who has not seen the evil that is done under the sun”. Could this really be? And in a flash I saw that this is a mere comment on the seriousness of the effect of being separated from God because of man’s sin. Just think about what this is saying. The effect of being without God, separated from Him and all His goodness, facing His judgement is so terrifying, so serious, so devastating that it would actually be better not to have lived at all, if you remain there. It brought home to me today in a vivid and new way how serious sin really is. And in effect how hugely valuable Jesus’ work on the cross is for the world but also for each one of us individually, to take that upon Himself, having been separated from His Father, under judgement on our behalf and the value to us is unmitigated forgiveness and reconciliation, without us needing to do anything more than trust and repent. The whole OT confirms this, it is indeed God’s gift to us to show us what the effect of separation from Him is like. Perhaps most of all the hugely complicated sacrificial system which was necessary just so that one could somehow draw near to Him. Then only very temporarily and through the mediation of a sinful high priest.
Wow! This brings Jesus into focus raised high above us clothed in light as it were and us the beneficiaries by faith and now “in Jesus”. Words fail me as the realization of the true extent of His work on our behalf come home to me in a new way.
Now to Ecclesiastes 4:8-12. This passage, actually vs 12 is a popular subject for a sermon at a wedding ceremony. And yes it is probably true for that occasion, but it seems to be saying more to me. Let us go back to Gen 2:20b. “But for Adam no suitable helper was found”. So Adam was created and had all the benefits of an open relationship with God his Father at that time. Yet God saw that that situation was not ideal. Adam needed someone else, who was also human, to relate to in his daily tasks and share in life’s joys (no sorrows yet). Not only that, but later we read that they became “one flesh” which biblically means they were lovers, and they were given the task of going out and filling the world, ie they should have children. So this represents the basic, pre-fall arrangement which God decided was the way to organize His future society on earth.
Now we read that after he fall this family arrangement was anything but ideal in its function, because of sin. Adam and Eve quarreling and one of their sons murdering another. Back to Eccl. vs 8. Poignantly he states “there was a man, all alone”. That sounds like Adam, before Eve and before the fall. So what is his answer. Well simply, things will be better if there are two, to share in the tasks and face the world together and he mentions a number of the practical benefits that it would hold for them. He also mentions a son and a brother so this brings the picture of a family into focus. Then comes that vs about a cord with three strands. There are various interpretations of the third strand but let us stand back and just briefly view what he is saying overall.
It seems to me he is restating the simple truth that we were not created to live and function on our own. We were created for relationships, family, society and yes most important and central to all relationships in this world is the vertical relationship with God which draws everything together and gives power and true strength. In the background I am reminder that the worst punishment for a criminal is to be put into solitary confinement, loss of freedom yes, but more serious, loss of any possibility of a relationship.
So where does this leave us? What about the many people who are single, maybe never married, or divorced or widowed/widowered, or for any reason? Many of those of you who are reading this blog find themselves as they mature and age, in that position. Well, let me say this. This is not a law or a rule or a regulation that has to be kept. This is a description of God’s preferred way for the way the world should function. Ultimately all His children are heading for the marriage supper of he Lamb. That wonderful day when we will experience the best that was ever intended for us and our relationships. In the meantime we are pilgrims on the way there, staggering through the wilderness of this broken world towards the Promised Land which lies bright on the horizon. Brighter each day that passes. In the meantime this is a very definite reminder of the importance of relating to one another and caring for each other. Being especially conscious of those who are alone, for whatever reason. The comforter mentioned in he last blog. And yes, most important we each have the opportunity of building a deeper and deeper relationship with our God and Father through Jesus. Lets not neglect that.