By: Pastor Dave Hentschel
Have you ever sat and wondered why Solomon focuses on death so much in the book of Ecclesiastes? The answer is because thinking about dying means preparing how to live. In other words, there’s wisdom in knowing where you’re headed, then starting from the end and working your way backwards from there.
There’s a quote from the movie Braveheart where he says, “Every man dies. Not every man truly lives.” And so, there is a scene in the movie, where William Wallace is leading the Scottish army to fight for their freedom. But they are outnumbered and they are afraid of dying. And at this point, Braveheart says, “Will you fight.” And one soldier says, “No, we will run and we will live.” But then Braveheart says “Ay, Run, and you’ll live, at least a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives [With growing excitement] but they’ll never take our freedom!”
This is exactly what Solomon is saying, to fast forward in your minds to the day when you’ll be dying in your bed. And in light of that day, what would you wish you would have done today?
Author David Gibson writes this, “Left to our own devices, we tend to live life forward. We plan and hope and dream of where we will be. Ecclesiastes teaches us to live life backward. To take the one thing in the future that is certain – our death – and work backward from that point into all the details and decisions and heartaches of our lives, and think about them from the perspective of the end.”
So that’s the challenge that Solomon presents to us. This is what Solomon is saying in light of the certainty of death, “Live life backwards.”
Gibson, David. Living Life Backward: How Ecclesiastes Teaches Us to Live in Light of the End. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017.