Daily Update #272

Today’s reading:

7 Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. 8 Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. 9 Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun – all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labour under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.

Ecclesiastes 9:7-10

These daily thoughts on Ecclesiastes have been quite sobering and challenging over the last few weeks. Again and again, we have faced the reality that everything we have done with our lives can be summed up in one word: – meaningless!  This thought could cause us to despair. However, as other writers of these updates have shared, when we focus on Jesus and life within him, then we can have a much more hopeful and fulfilling life.

In today’s reading, the teacher encourages us to take time to enjoy and savour everything that God has given us. 

Indeed, there has been a very thin thread running through the whole book reminding us about joy – not transient happiness, but that deep joy that can only be found and experienced in Jesus Christ.

Martin Luther explains what the teacher of Ecclesiastes means. He says the teacher is not urging a life of pleasure and luxury characteristic of those who do not sense this vanity, for that would be putting oil on fire; but he is speaking of godly men, who sense the vexation and troubles of the world. It is their downcast hearts that he wants to encourage.

Perhaps this is why this passage starts with the command “Go”. The Word of God is telling us to go and enjoy the gifts of God. It is not so much the eating and drinking that the Teacher is after, but the heartfelt joy. As we share table fellowship with one another—as we break fresh bread, sip fine wine, and taste all the other good food and drink that God provides—we are charged to receive each pleasure with God-centred joy in the heart

The command continues – put on your best party clothes and perfume or aftershave. White robes were worn by war heroes in a victory parade, by slaves on the day they gained their freedom, and by priests on the high holy days of Israel. 

I guess most have us haven’t taken the opportunity to dress up, have a special meal and celebrate life over the last year. But perhaps now is the time. Despite everything that we have all been through over the last year, it would be really good to stop and celebrate all that God has indeed done for us. There are so many things: many of us have been able to slow down and re-evaluate our lives and all the things that have kept us so busy; we have been able to receive our vaccines, when so many people around the world are unlikely to have that opportunity; we have the wherewithal to connect with family and friends; we have been able to tune into various services freely, and so the list goes on.

So perhaps today, as we prepare for the weekend. We should dig out our party clothes and celebrate all the wonderful gifts our amazing God has given us over a meal. If you are feeling particularly tech savvy, you could even enjoy your meal over zoom with friends or family! We have managed to do this with our son and family in Belgium and provided much joy and laughter for all. The joy God gives us is not dependent upon our circumstances, but only in knowing Jesus. So invite him to your table and celebrate!

Tomorrow’s passage:  Ecclesiastes 9:11-16