Hoping for Something New?

I finished my lectio divina study of Philippians and started Ecclesiastes.  Quite a contrast, since Philippians has been called a book about joy and Ecclesiastes — well, it’s more doom and gloom.  However, an author I read recently said Ecclesiastes isn’t depressing, it’s simply realistic.  Maybe you would like to study along with me and see what you think.

Here’s what stood out for me in chapter 1:

“Is there a thing of which it is said,  ‘See, this is new’?

It has been already in the ages before us.”  Ecclesiastes 1:10

I read a lot of historical fiction, and this has occurred to me recently.  We live as if our time is unique, and we like to think that people and life in general are getting better and better, but that’s not true.  It’s not realistic.

Take slavery.  We fought a Civil War to rid ourselves of this evil.  However, slavery existed in Bible times, and it’s still going on today.  In fact, most of us profit from it, through the goods we use and the clothing we wear.  Or genocide — this makes us think of the Holocaust, but it’s far from an isolated occurrence.  Stalin killed millions of his own people;  native Americans were slaughtered by Europeans;  Armenians were massacred during WWI.  Even the pandemic, which seems new to us, has happened before.  What about the plague?  Or the Spanish Flu epidemic in the 1900’s?

The fact of the matter is, we and the world around us are infected by sin.  It’s not going away.  It won’t get better.  That’s why we needed a savior.  That is the one new thing that has happened in the whole history of the human race.  God became a man.  He did that to save us from the same old things we keep repeating over and over.  He is our only hope

As Paul said in the book of Ephesians:

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. ”  Ephesians 1:18-19

For more on the book of Ecclesiastes see these posts:

God Moments in Ecclesiastes

Ecclesiastes 3:3

Another Blast from the Past