Explore the Bible Study: Facing Death

8:13 AM

In 2007, the film, The Bucket List, premiered. It was the story of two elderly men who had both been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. While in the hospital for treatments, one of the men began to create a bucket list of things to do before he “kicked the bucket.” But, when he is told he has less than one-year to live, he discards his list until his friend encourages him to reconsider. Thus begins their adventure of completing the bucket list before the man dies. The Explore the Bible Study: Facing Death, focuses on Ecclesiastes 9:1-10 as Solomon addresses this reality and how people should live in light of their mortality.

All humans long for some sense of control. Solomon reminds us that no human can know with certainty what each day will bring or when death will occur. This is part of being human. Only God holds these truths in His hands. These truths are hidden in the mystery of His will. As you examine Ecclesiastes 9:1-10, consider the context in which you are living and what you know about the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is only through a relationship with Christ that you can keep a proper perspective and live a content life. 

Remember that a bucket list can’t delay death or control things that might take place around you -  Ecclesiastes 9:1-3.

Essentially, God knows the big picture of what we do not know. While Solomon reminds us that we do not know whether love or hate lies ahead, we all know that death is ahead for all. Regardless of whether one is righteous or wicked, whether they will face love or hate, whether they are clean or unclean, whether they make sacrifices to God or not, whether they make vows or not, they cannot escape the certainty of death. Death is the fate of all regardless of one’s morals or beliefs.

In the end, the point of this section is clear: all people will die regardless of their level of human righteousness or wickedness and regardless of what is on their bucket list. Therefore, all people must prepare for death. However, understanding this reality can help one live life with wisdom. 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 reminds us that death does have a sting . . . but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! As believers we know that one day Jesus will wipe away every tear . . . and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore (see Revelation 21:4, CSB).

Jesus challenged His followers in John 11:26 with this statement and question, "everyone who lives and believes in me will never die." Do you believe this? If so, does your bucket list include a desire to develop a growing vibrant relationship with Christ?

What should we have on a Bucket List because of the reality of death? - Ecclesiastes 9:4-6

Solomon begins with an illustration regarding a dog and a lion. He points out that a despised, contemptible dog that is alive is better off than a dead lion, even if the lion was the mightiest and most majestic of the entire animal kingdom.

This is a stark way for Solomon to remind you that to be alive is to have opportunity that is not available to the dead. Once you are dead, it is too late to direct the path of your life. Solomon stated that when it comes to the dead, "their love, their hate, and their envy have already disappeared."

God’s people should realize the preciousness of life. While alive, there is hope of finding purpose and reward. Our days are fleeting; therefore, we must assess how to live well in order to die well. 

Enjoying life should be on our bucket list. - Ecclesiastes 9:7-10 

In many ways, verse 7 is the heart of the message of Ecclesiastes. Go, eat your bread with pleasure, and drink your wine with a cheerful heart, for God has already accepted your works.  In today's context, it points to a time of fellowship with others with an attitude of peace because of your relationship with God through Jesus Christ. It could mean grabbing coffee with a friend, going out to eat with friends, or inviting someone over to your home for a meal. 

In verse 8, Solomon continued to build on the idea of enjoying life with the words: Let your clothes be white all the time, and never let oil be lacking on your head. In ancient times, when people were distraught, they wore sackcloth and ashes to demonstrate their grief. On the other hand, white clothes reflected the heat of the sun, and oil protected and nourished the skin. Likewise, oil symbolized joy. In our time, it would be like wearing bright and fun clothes and living life with a smile on your face. Solomon was saying to be clothed or covered in joy at all times and let your joy be apparent to others.  

In verse 9, Solomon instructed men to enjoy life with their wives, but the principle here applies to both married men and women to enjoy their spouses until they die. Marriage is a blessing from God for the mutual enjoyment of both partners.

Finally, Solomon tells us that enjoying life should include whatever your hands find to do. The Hebrew word translated whatever literally means “all” or “everything.” The phrase do with all your strength means to give it everything you have. We should give our very best effort to everything God allows us to do.

Remember, Solomon warned us in Ecclesiastes 7:16-18 us to avoid extremes. If one isn’t careful, our current passage could be viewed as permission to pursue extremes by diving headlong into good things as if they are the most important things in life. Those who abandon themselves to food and drink do so because they assume this is all there is before they die. This is outright self-indulgence. We see this in expressions of a society that embraces Hedonistic behavior today or, more subtly, in the bucket list of things we all feel we MUST have or pursue before we die or while we are able.

Applying Ecclesiastes 9:1-10 to Our Bucket List

James 4:13-15 reminds us of the bucket list struggle we all have: Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.’ Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are like vapor that appears for a little while, then vanishes. Instead, you should say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ 

We should apply this to our bucket list. Since we do not know when we will die, we must live now while we can. If we have a chance to do something for the glory of God, then let us do it now because we do not know what the future will bring. 

Someone recently shared this profound statement on social media that sums up how we should live in light of the realty of death: “Sometimes I joke about what I would do if I had only one day left to live . . . eat junk food, go crazy, etc. Today it hit me: Jesus washed feet.” (Author unknown)

Because life is short, let us use and enjoy the days God gives us to the fullest, making the most of our days for Christ’s glory and sharing and showing the Good News of Jesus!

The downloadable teaching helps provide more details for this study along with some tools you can use in guiding a group Bible study. Be sure to use this as a supplement to your study of the Explore the Bible Study resources provided by LifeWay.

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