Solomon now turns from a beautiful section (Ecclesiastes 3:9-15) about God making everything beautiful in its time, taking pleasure in God’s gifts to us, thanking and fearing our sovereign God… to the section which is our focus for today, verses 16-22.
Solomon’s brief interlude into a vertical perspective quickly ends and he turns his attention back to the horizontal and sees corruption, evil and injustice all around him. Although he acknowledges that God will judge both the righteous and the wicked(v 17), he becomes highly cynical.
From Solomon’s horizontal perspective, we all come to the same end. As we saw at the beginning of this chapter, that there is a time to die. God has numbered our days and because sin came into the world, we will die and our physical bodies will pass away and return to dust. If we look cynically, clinically, strictly biologically…yes, we all die, we all return to dust, and the animals have the same fate. “Man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity.”
Let us not forget the vertical perspective, found in 1 Corinthians 15:42-58
So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.