Universality of Death
After giving his advice, Solomon writes what he has observed about man’s life under the sun. Here in our text he was talking about wickedness in the place of justice and righteousness. He also makes comparison between man and animals in which both share the same fate, death.
I. Wickedness (Eccl. 3:16)
A. Webster defines wickedness as departure from the rules of the divine law; evil disposition or practices; immorality; crime; sin; sinfulness; corrupt manners. Wickedness generally signifies evil practices.
B. The term “place of judgment” here is supposed to be the “court of the law” where justice must be given fairly without any bias. A place where the innocent is declared not guilty and the bad are punished.
C. However, Solomon knows that even in the court of the law, wickedness is there. Power is abused and judgment is perverted even during in his reign as a king.
D. This happens because of the sinfulness of man and the unfairness of life in this fallen world.
E. The term “place of righteousness” here I suppose is to be the “place of worship”. During the time of the Pharisees and the Sadducees, the temple, the place of righteousness, became a den of thieves.
F. Modern churches now which is suppose to be a place where sinners can go and find refuge and help are full of false teachers and corrupt pastors who would take advantage of the people to gain popularity and money.
G. Again, this happens because of the sinfulness of man and the unfairness of life in this fallen world.
H. As we all see in any place in the world, the wicked prospers despite of their being sinful and the righteous suffers because of their obedience and being law abiding citizen.
II. God will judge (Eccl. 3:17-18)
A. The righteous and the wicked will be judged by God
B. There is an “appointed time” when the righteous and the wicked will stand before the God of heaven and be judged according to what they have done. In fact, God is also judging now though we don’t see it clearly.
C. Solomon is hinting here that there is an afterlife. If the righteous cannot get fair judgment here, then there must be an afterlife where they get justice and the wickedness of all sinners will be punished accordingly.
D. Verse 18 tells us “that God might manifest them”. The word manifest in Hebrew means “to sift, to winnow”, in other words, to “test”. God is testing man.
E. God is revealing what man is really like. For without God in our life, we are like beasts also. Like animals (Ps. 32:9; Prov. 7:1; 2 Peter 2:19-20.) we live like a beast and dies like a beast.
F. God is the final judge. It is a fearful thing to fall in the hand of the Living God. However, Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. Because of Christ dying on the cross for our sins, we have eternal life and can be with Him in heaven.
In a book entitled Down to Earth, John Lawrence tells the story of a city that dared God to show Himself and paid a terrible price. It seems that the city of Messina, Sicily, was home to many wicked, irreligious people. On December 25, 1908, a newspaper published in Messina printed a parody
against God, daring Him to make Himself known by sending an earthquake. Three days later, on December 28, the city and its surrounding district was devastated by a terrible quake that killed 84,000 people.
Today in the Word, October, 1997, p. 25
III. Death (Eccl. 3: 19-22)
A. Both man and beast die physically.
B. Because of sin, man and beast shall die
C. Both man and beast were made out of the basic elements, the “dust of the ground” (Gen. 2:7) so their bodies will return to dust again at death.
D. Scientifically speaking, this is what we call the “Second Law of Thermodynamics” or the law of entropy which says that everything is running downhill, from order to disorder, from useful to useless, from life to death.
E. Solomon has limited himself here in that he did not mention that there is an afterlife in which there were two destination, heaven and hell.
F. He was merely telling that all living creation will die and go to the grave.
G. The word “spirit” in verse 21 is “breath or wind”. In this sense, both man and beast have the same “spirit”, they both breath and their breathing ceases at death.
H. However, “spirit” refers also to the aspect of man which communicates with God’s spirit, and which returns to God at death (Eccl. 12:7).
I. Animals do not have spirit and they cannot communicate to God. You can never see an animal praying to the God of heaven.
J. To sum it up in verse 22, Solomon is telling us to enjoy life. Make the best out of all things that God had given you. Help others and serve God faithfully. Prepare for the afterlife. Remember that there were only two final destination, heaven and hell.
Illustration: How World Religious View Death
1. “Once you’re dead, you’re done for.” There is no existence after death. —Atheism; Communism.
2. There is a return trip. At death the soul enters a new body for a return trip. The process is called reincarnation. —Hinduism; Some Buddhism
3. Everybody will be OK. All will go to heaven. — Universalis; Modernism
4. Some will be OK. Others will be annihilated, with no consciousness, as if they were permanently asleep. —Jehovah’s Witnesses; Christadelphians
5. Those who do not go to heaven will have another chance after death to make the right decision, to alter their destiny. —Mormonism
6. There will be a sort of semi-hell after death (called “purgatory”) that will burn out personal wickedness, until some are ready to enter heaven. —Roman Catholicism; some Spiritualism
7. Judgment for all. The “saved” go to heaven on the basis that Jesus Christ was punished for their sins on the Cross, and that during their lives they turned from sin to receive His forgiveness. The “lost” are judged according to their sins and punished in hell. —THE HOLY BIBLE
(Encyclopaedia of 15,000 Illustrations: Signs of the Times.)
Indeed, death is universal. We all die. Man dies, animals die. The earth is full of wickedness but time will come when the Lord Jesus Christ will judge the living and the dead. Repent from your sins now and receive Him as your personal Saviour. It’s the best choice and you will never regret it.