The Season for Joy Is Now
“I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime; moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor—it is the gift of God.” – Ecclesiastes 3:12-13
Sometimes, biblical texts can develop inaccurate characterizations. For instance, Leviticus is considered a difficult read, while Esther is known for lacking a direct reference to God. Song of Songs is set apart by its sexually explicit language, while Ecclesiastes is seen as having a depressing tone. Yet such characterizations are unfair assessments, incorrectly depicting the full scope of the biblical text and distracting from the author’s intended message. Yet when these mischaracterizations are removed, the God of detail can be seen in Leviticus and God can be seen through the courage of Mordecai within Esther. God’s love can be seen through the marriage relationship in Song of Songs while God’s call for man to live a joyous life is unearthed in Ecclesiastes. Misguided assumptions about various books of the Bible hinder the full understanding of God’s redemptive plan for man and the Bible’s overarching theme of redemption. For instance, Ecclesiastes is not the negative book that many see it to be. It is not a collection life observations penned by some embittered and cynical critic. Rather, it is a realistic outlook on life based upon various life observations, which contrast the vanity of a life apart from God with a joyous life rooted in God.
An in depth study of Ecclesiastes reveals joy and satisfaction to be a continual theme, teaching true joy can only be found in God and God alone. This theme eclipses the horizontal earthly message of man’s difficulties while living life under the sun, and is confirmed within the Preacher’s epilogue (Ecclesiastes 12:9-11) as he sums up his purpose in arranging the words of wisdom that he carefully chose. The Preacher describes his selection of proverbial sayings as “delightful words” to be applied, leading to personal enjoyment and delight. The Preacher then describes these delightful words as being truthful. This signifies a connection between truth and joy. And so there is the deeper message of joy within the book of Ecclesiastes. It is a joy only found in God; for nothing else will satisfy man’s heart but God Himself.
This is illustrated in the passage above. Following his poetic reflection upon the various seasons of life, he focuses upon the goodness of God and the gifts he graciously provides. The passage reminds us that in the midst of each life season, we should seize the moment by enjoying the gifts given to us by the good hand of God. Whether it is in toil or in the daily activities such as eating and drinking, enjoyment should be sought out since these things are gifts from God. The Preacher highlights this every time he shifts his focus away from the horizontal frustrations of life under the sun and on to God, the giver of all good things.
God in His providential care has graciously blessed His children with gifts to enjoy. And when these gifts are celebrated, God Himself is filled with joy. A common illustration involves a parent giving a gift to a child. If the child hurriedly opens up the gift, only to cast it aside without enjoying the gift, the parent is dishonored. But if a child treasures the gift and expresses enjoyment in the gift, the giver is honored. And so it is with God and His children. When we enjoy God’s gifts, He is pleased and takes pleasure in the joy we express.
To find purpose and meaning in life, we must look beyond the sun and look to God. And when we seek Him, we will find joy, peace, contentment and satisfaction. And so let us celebrate the graciousness of our heavenly Father who bestows His blessings upon us each and every day and enjoy the daily gifts we so frequently take for granted. The season for joy is now; for our purpose in life is to give God glory and find enjoyment in Him.
– Pastor Eric