#Ecclesiastes | #Rushdoony | #SoveriegnGoodness
Crumbs from the reading table is a post of gleanings from my recent readings—from books to articles. Every gleaning will be long enough to spark some thoughts but short enough to finish during a bathroom break.
Excursions in Ecclesiastes
This excerpt is from my series on Ecclesiastes:
A generation goes, and a generation comes,
but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises, and the sun goes down,
and hastens to the place where it rises.
The wind blows to the south
and goes around to the north;
around and around goes the wind,
and on its circuits the wind returns.
All streams run to the sea,
but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
there they flow again.
- Ecclesiastes 1:4-7
The Preacher focuses on natural world and how it’s at odds with humanistic wisdom. God created the world with specific laws that nature must follow unless God intervenes in special cases. We call those exceptional cases miracles.
Now, how is this an attack on unbelieving thought? You must remember to whom the Preacher was directing his message to find the answer. The revelation of Ecclesiastes was for Israel, God’s covenant people. It was a warning of the foolishness of the pagan gods surrounding them.
A blessing in the covenant
For those who are in and faithful to the covenant, the created system is a blessing. Instead of cycles of vanity, mist, or uselessness, they are the foundation for productivity. God’s order for the world is not an obstacle to be overcome but is the domain in which man is to rule over as God’s representative. It’s an object to better and present to God as a thank-offering.
Curse outside of the covenant
These cycles vex those outside the Covenant of Grace, who don’t submit to God and receive His grace. The created order is a burden upon autonomous men. Man, outside of Christ, wants to be his own God. They either want man to control nature or use nature to control man. For the rebel’s against God’s covenant, birth, death, the sun’s rising and setting, the finicky attitude of air currents, and the water cycle all kick back at this lustful ambition.
The activities of the created world, sustained by God, are a reminder to man that he is not in control. Nature will not change for man to build enduring value, but he must submit to the system of God per His Law. Nature’s cycle will not allow unbelieving humanity to claim perpetually enduring results from their labor if at odds with Yahweh’s ethics and world.
What is man’s goodness?
This puts a pertinent question to us: if God’s glory is His goodness, and His goodness is His sovereignty, what is man’s goodness like? It is to seek the glory of God by manifesting His grace and His goodness, and to set forth His sovereignty by being under His dominion.
- R.J. Rushdoony, Good Morning, Friends Vol. 1, Loc. 344 [Kindle Edition].
Rushdoony’s comment is based on his observation of, and reflection on, Psalm 145:9, 15-16.
The Lord is good to all,
and his mercy is over all that he has made.
The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season.
You open your hand;
you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
What we see is that God’s goodness is founded on His sovereignty. He is merciful to whomever He shows mercy. The harvest comes according to His will. Desires are satisfied by the palms of His hand, from the need for roots to quench their thirst to a man needing not to be alone. A world empty of joy is a world without a sovereign God.
How do we reflect this goodness as God’s image-bearers? First, it is a seeking of God’s glory. Through work, refined by obeying God, we make the weight of the Lord felt in all our engagements with neighbors. Second, we have both a merciful disposition and take compassionate action.
Rushdoony comments that this is man’s goodness, which is a reflection of God’s,
…if God’s glory is His goodness, and His goodness is His sovereignty, what is man’s goodness like? It is to seek the glory of God by manifesting His grace and His goodness, and to set forth His sovereignty by being under His dominion.
This means to cease from fretting about today and tomorrow: give God the glory: He is the ruler yet.
It means to show forth love and mercy to all, even as He manifests it to us. And it means to live for Him whose will alone is our peace, and in whom alone is there power, dominion, and glory.
- Ibid., Loc. 344 [Kindle Edition]
Until next time…
Read more. Think more. Apply it.
Matt is a husband, father, and an avid reader. He holds a bachelor’s degree from New Geneva Christian Leadership Academy in Applied Christian Studies.