18 August 2022
In Looking at the book of Ecclesiastes, we find the continuing refrain – ‘Vanity of vanities’, all is meaningless and chasing after the wind’, from the Preacher as he examined ‘life under the sun’. One of the statements that encapsulates this refrain: “For who knows what is good for man while he lives the few days of his vain life, which he passes like a shadow? For who can tell man what will be after him under the sun?” (Eccl. 6:12 ESV).
The naturalistic philosophy is summarised by Richard Dawkins, the well-known atheist and Oxford biologist who champions evolution as a godless worldview. Dawkins writes,”There is at the bottom no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.” This is the logical result of denying the existence of the creator. If the universe is what it is without anyone behind it, then there is no ultimate purpose for anything.
There seems to be some similarity in the conclusions of the Preacher and the atheist, but we know that the Preacher was probably a wise Jew who is monotheistic and probably has some beliefs and ideas about God. But even for the Preacher, just looking at life under the sun, everything seems meaningless and does not satisfy.
The declaration of Scripture: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1).
Notice the relationship between faith and hope. Hope is in one sense ‘faith’s forward look’. The channel through which power to endure flows is hope. As believers, we are to be upheld by our hope, the sure and certain hope of glory promised to us in the gospel – the glory to which a life of faithful endurance is guaranteed to lead us. “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure (Heb. 6:19).
As believers, we are to look forward, and to get excited and encouraged about good things that we foresee, and draw joy and strength to cope with the present. And the present is certainly not encouraging – in fact, it looks ‘hopeless’, and what we can imagine is that there would be distress, destruction, sorrow and pain for the world.
And God is allowing it and He is still sitting on the throne; His eternal purpose would be fulfilled. We draw strength and joy with the present (despite all that is negative to disillusion us) by looking forward to the future fulfillment and delight promised by God for all who are His. God has given Christians the most magnificent hope that ever was.
But note this: to keep this hope alive and well means to walk by faith (in God and His faithful promises), for hope is indeed faith’s forward look.
Each of us is travelling along a path that God has appointed for us to an eternity of joy in which Jesus Christ will be the centre, the focus, and the source of our endless delight.