16 Moreover, I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, even there was wickedness, and in the place of righteousness, even there was wickedness.
17 I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work.
18 I said in my heart with regard to the children of man that God is testing them that they may see that they themselves are but beasts. 19 For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity. 20 All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return. 21 Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth? 22 So I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that is his lot. Who can bring him to see what will be after him? (Ecclesiastes 3:16-22)
The more I read this, the more thankful I am that I found Jesus! –amen?
Concerning verses 16-18, man might see himself as no more than an animal. But this is not true. We were made in the image and likeness of God. Solomon must be looking at man from a humanistic standpoint –not what the Bible says.
Animals and mankind do die; but people have souls and will stand in judgement before God on that Day. (regarding 3:19-20) The word breath here is Hebrew for ruwach. There is a long definition, but when I looked in the Hebrew-Chaldean lexicon I saw it as breath of life given to us from God. God created us all and gave us life. But Scripture tells us that He breathed into Adam. (Gen. 2:7) Our bodies, the flesh (the Bible refers to it as the tent we live in), does return to the dust. But we are spirit and body and those who believe and follow Jesus will receive a new body. I’ve underlined the main verses:
2 Corinthians 5
For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
(In other words, the body we live in is temporary like a tent is temporarily put up to live in. We will each have a heavenly body that God has prepared for us. I don’t know about you, but there is a longing in me to be with Him in eternity. But there is work still to be done. So, until that day we have His Spirit living in us, guiding us and helping us. His Spirit is our guarantee of what is to come.)
6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. 12 We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.
There is so much to be uncovered in that chapter, but we must get back on track. Solomon’s last words in chapter three bring my thoughts back to Colossians 3:23-25.
23 Whatever you do, (Did you see that? WHAT-EVER you do...) work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.
I can’t end without sharing a few verses that I remind my children of when they get tired of working and start complaining:
13For it is God who works in you to will and to act on behalf of His good pleasure.
14Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine as lights in the world 16 as you hold forth the word of life, (Philippians 2 –Berean Bible Study)