"I also thought, 'As for men, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. Man’s fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath ; man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless.'" Eccleasiastes 3:18-19
It would be easy to draw wrong conclusions from a casual reading of these verses. Perspective is all-important. Solomon is not dealing with questions of eternal life or what we might more generally call the afterlife. He is simply examining the facts of human existence versus the facts of animal existence, and for all our vaunted superiority, in one respect at least animals and humans are exactly alike—we both die.
Behind the problem of death lies the reality of sin in the universe. Before sin entered though Adam’s disobedience, death did not exist. Where does sin lead? The answer is simple: When I sin, I die. Every time I sin, I die a little bit more. We sin because we think it will bring us freedom and life but we end up with bondage and death. "Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). First there was sin, then there was death. It is an inexorable law of the universe.
Just open any newspaper and look at the obituary section. While browsing the newspaper, I happened upon the obituaries. Name after name after name, and never a name repeated. Arlen . . . Canavan . . . Doohan . . . Hill . . . Knowles . . . Lane . . . Lyons . . . Mahone . . . Masco . . . Pelzer . . . Sheridan . . . Shubert . . . Small . . . Videka . . . Witzel . . . Yuris.
Every day a brand-new list. Why? Because death reigns on Planet Earth. But death also reigns for you and for me. If there is one thing about which we may be perfectly certain it is this: You are going to die someday. We say nothing is as certain as death and taxes, but death is far more certain.
When you die, the coroner will fill out a death certificate for you. There's a space on that certificate that says "Cause of Death." If we understand the Bible, the answer is always the same: "Sin." Not sickness, not cancer, not an accident, not old age. Those are merely symptoms of the one great cause of death: Sin.
Holy Father, my iniquity is vast and my sins beyond counting. My only hope is in the blood of Jesus. Amen.
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