16 June 2020 - Better is the End
Better is the End… Ecclesiastes 7:1-14
In the first six chapters of Ecclesiastes, Solomon describes human existence–without God. However, from chapter 7 onwards, his focus becomes less man-centered and more God-centered.
What’s in a name?“A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of birth.” Ecc 7:1
In Hebrew thought, a name was usually regarded as expressing a vital truth about a person’s inner character. For example, the name Jacob signifies “deceiver,” and Jacob certainly began life as a trickster (Gen 27). But God later renamed him Israel, for he had “striven with God and with men, and [had] prevailed” (Gen. 32:22–32). When Jacob confessed his dependence on his Creator, God called him Israel. From that point, Jacob’s heart was changed.
In John 1:42 Jesus looked at Simon and said “you will be called Ceʹphas” (which is translated “Peter/Rock”)and in Matthew chapter 16:16-18 “I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church”. Despite the number of times Peter failed, When Jesus asked his disciples "who do you say I am?", Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God". Peter did not earn this name, but Jesus gave him the name because He saw the repentant heart, and then gave him the ability to live up to the new name. The confidence in Peter comes from the Lord.
A name we earn from people of this earth is like an "Ointment" it is fragrant only in the place where the person is whose head and garment are scented, and only for a time, but the "name" given by God to His children (Rev 3:12) is forever and good.
Is bad better?Just as a good name is better than precious ointment, the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth. As Psalms 90 eloquently states that "So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom" (Psalms 90:12). The serious and necessary thoughts that come to one at a funeral are far more uplifting and valuable than those that result from attending a party. Parties and feasts are good and fun, providing the rest and fellowship that all of us need. Yet they do not remind us of eternity. Tragedy and death remind us that life is fleeting, and that we need to put our hope in the Lord and not in the fleeting pleasures of this world (1 John 2:15–17). The hearts of wise people are in the house of mourning and the hearts of fools are in the house of mirth (Eccl. 7:4)
The truth of the matter is that God uses pain to discipline us, sanctify us, and give us wisdom (Heb. 12:3–17). Paradoxically, trouble should make us affirm even more strongly that our Creator is sovereign and good, that while bad things are not good in themselves, God nevertheless has a good purpose for letting them into our lives.
Today’s passage also calls us to be patient, explaining that “the end of a matter is better than its beginning and patience is better than pride” (Eccl. 7:8).
Where there is humility there will be patience. This, in turn, will help defeat the anger that can lodge in the heart when we are impatient and unwilling to wait for suffering to make us who God, in His timing, wants us to be. Such anger is the mark of fools (Eccl. 7:9)
Knowing that the end of suffering—the goal that the Lord is trying to achieve as He works in and through the pain—is better, we are encouraged not to give up hope in the midst of trials. As Hebrews 12:11 tells, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
Wise people rejoice when good things happen to them, there is a place before the face of God to take joy in our Lord’s bounty and to enjoy what He has given us. Philippians 4:12-13, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. However, under no illusions God’s people experience material prosperity at every turn. There will be days of adversity. But they are ordained by the Lord. For He gives strength to do all things
“In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him.” - Ecclesiastes 7:14
Life application: Ask yourself these questions and make them a prayer of surrender.
1. Do you sometimes long for a completely new start? A new identity in which all your failings and disappointments and bad circumstances are left behind and you can start again with a clean slate?
2. What is our attitude towards problems of life? Would you rejoice at what God is going to do instead of complaining about what God did not do?
3. Are we cultivating a patient spirit by focusing on the promises of God in His Word?