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Ralph's Daily Devotional - Thursday, April 19

Ecclesiastes 9:7-10 is about as dark as it can get.  The writer is painting a picture of life under the curse of sin, consisting of making the most of the moment.  In these fleeting and vain moments, things like enjoying work and family are the best one can hope for.  God does exist, but He offers no hope of a better tomorrow, let alone life after death.

Dark?  Yes.  Welcome to Ecclesiastes.  It certainly is the most difficult book in the Bible to understand and the least of my favorites.  It's like an octopus - just when you think you have mastered all of its many tentacles, another comes out of nowhere and grabs you by the throat.  By the way, have you tried grilled octopus?  Delicious!

Many who view life with such a dark philosophy seek various alternatives, such as nihilism (life has no meaning and no God), escapism (attempting to find an alternate reality that is often delusional) or hedonism (eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die).  But this writer does not give into these alternatives.  Instead he hopes against hope that following God is the best of all alternatives despite the gloom.

This is real faith - the kind one sees in Jesus struggling as He sweats great drops of blood in the garden before going to the cross.  The writer of this book knows of no such hope as Jesus.  He lives in a sort of twilight zone of both shadow and substance.  He simply believes and follows God because God is God.  He expects nothing in return except to live as best he can while he can.

For him, "There is nothing new under the sun."  But much later and long after the writer's death, on a new day "under the sun," God will do a new thing - something this writer could never imagine or hope for.  God will Himself become man, and by His stripes we will be healed of both our sin and our despair.  Indeed the whole creation now "groaning" (Romans 8) will awaken to the resurrected children of God.  

We have so much more understanding and blessing.  And so the question is: "If this man, amidst his darkness, could trust in God, how much more should we who walk in the light of Christ?"

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