Wednesday, May 12, 2010
The Scheme of Things (Ecclesiastes 7-9)
In Genesis 3:5-6 the desire to see the scheme of thing stepped way over the mark into the adultery of sin. Investigating this is The Preacher's quest in Ecclesiastes 7:25-29. He finds that the pursuit of the scheme of things and of adding one thing to another proves fruitless. The work of God is to thwart this quest (8:17) to restrain our sin, even to exiling us from himself.
And indeed when we look at the world we find it full of perplexity. Things don't quite add up. Good things happen to bad people, bad things to the good. Mourning is better than feasting. Even justice is not speedily delivered by God (8:11) and so the mercy of God ends up making people more sinful, more cursed, more given over to sin and more skew whiff from how we'd expect to find things. The world doesn't cohere the way we'd expect.
The Preacher does know some things. God has revealed what has gone wrong and that though it seems otherwise, in the end it will be well with those who fear God (8:12).
And in the end a story. A great king lays siege to a city but is thwarted by a poor wise man, history forgets the poor man but nonetheless being wise is better. For the wise fear God. The grand scheme of things isn't something humanity can construct, we cannot find a theory of everything - it will fail somewhere - but God reveals the scheme, his wisdom, his story. And so: eat, drink and rejoice which is to say in the language of Deuteronomy 14:26 worship, enjoy one another's company and that of God without the delusions that everything in this world makes sense.