Meaningless of Life if Death is the Final Answer

The Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament is a fascinating read. The Proverbs are optimistically written where, in short, if you work hard and do what is right, all will work out for you. The writer of Ecclesiastes then comes along and throws cold water on the whole thing. The Teacher in Ecclesiastes pontificates on the absurdity of life, the meaninglessness of it all. Read Ecc. 1:1-11. The Teacher sets the stage for his sobering book by writing a short poem on how the mountains, rivers, and seas all continue on without us. Ultimately, we all die and that is that. He paints a bleak picture of life, comparing it to a vapor. You can see it, but it is short lives and disappears in a flash. Is life even worth living if everything you accumulate in this life is left waste?

The Christian might respond that in the end there is a reward, so, look forward to that when death comes. The Teacher, in Ecc. 9, shifts focus to the meaninglessness of religion. Those who sacrifice, and those who do not, both end up in the ground. So, “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” (Ecc. 9:10). When you die, you won’t have anything to do anymore so get it all done now.

As we prepare for the Resurrection celebration that comes with Easter, I want you to wrestle with the question of what hope the resurrection actually brings to life today. Not just a future hope, but a very real hope for today. When we talk about our hope as Christians, we often point to Jesus on the cross, dying for our sins. When Paul talks about the Gospel he preached, he points to the resurrection. In my few decades of being in the church, we haven’t talked about the resurrection that much.

As we continue on this journey over the next few weeks, here are some questions to start wrestling with: What will the resurrection be like? What will be resurrected, body or spirit? Where will we go? How does heaven play into this? Where is heaven? What will happen to God’s creation? What was God’s intention for His creation to begin with?

I want to keep coming back to Paul in 1 Corinthians 15. Apparently, there were some in the Corinthian Church who rejected that there was a resurrection of the body. Paul uses a lot of repetition in 1 Cor. 15:12-26. Take a moment to read it slowly, line by line. It is almost as though Paul is in dialogue with the Teacher in Ecclesiastes. Everything in life becomes meaningless when death is the outcome. In the resurrection, Christ has given meaning to everything in this life. He builds on this in v35-58. What hope do you see in this passage? What hope do you see that is more than just having a paradise to rest in when you die?

We live in the hope of the resurrection. This hope gives meaning to everything we do here and now. In the resurrection, all that is of God will be raised and made new. How do you live a life of meaning now because of this hope?