Week Commencing 18th November 2018
Notes for next Sunday’s sermon on Luke 12:1 and 1 Cor 15:32, “Eat, drink and be merry”.
Next Sunday will be the final in our November series: “That’s from the Bible!?”
|4th Nov (Noosa triathlon)||Run the race set before us||Hebrews 12:1-3|
|11th Nov (Remembrance Day)||Greater love has no one than this||John 15:1-17|
|18th Nov||Led like a lamb to the slaughter||Isaiah 53:7|
|25th Nov||Eat, drink and be merry||Luke 12:19; 1 Cor 15:32|
“Eat, drink and be merry” is a phrase used in lots of different ways today! Most often, people use it to express an attitude of complacency about the future. “Oh well, we might as well eat drink and be merry”, sometimes adding “for tomorrow we die”. In other words – no use getting worried about what is happening or what might be around the corner, for we’re all going to die in the end! Might as well just live it up as you’re able!
Variations of this phrase actually occur at least four times in the Bible and are used in different ways. We’ll explore four occasions in their context.
DAY 1: Read Ecclesiastes 8:9-17 (or read from v2)
How much do you remember about the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes? The book is part of what we refer to as the “wisdom literature” of the Old Testament – along with books such as Proverbs and the Song of Songs. The writer is trying to work out the meaning of life! He goes about that task, simply by looking at this life here and now. He calls it “life under the sun”. He comes to the conclusion that life itself is meaningless – “a chasing after the wind”. It is a fascinating book!! He ponders the fact that whether you’re rich in this life or poor, you still end up dead! He reflects on the fact that all one’s hard work ends up meaning nothing – because when you’re dead, someone else comes along and enjoys it!
In this section, he also obverses (v14) – something else meaningless that occurs on earth: the righteous who get what the wicked deserve, and the wicked who get what the righteous deserve. This too, I say, is meaningless. His observations are real and raw. I often find myself thinking – yes – this is precisely true today in our time! In many ways, his observations are timeless.
So, the writer commends the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.
Now, it is important to note that the writer’s use of this phrase here, is practically the opposite to the way the Bible uses the phrase elsewhere. Here, the writer is urging the enjoyment of the simple things in life – BUT (and this is important) in the certain and sure knowledge, that God has given you these things in life to enjoy! They will be enjoyed properly, with the knowledge and acknowledgement that they come from God. If one has no notion of God, then they are completely without any meaning at all.
The end of this great book is telling. After investigating all he can to find the meaning of life, here is his conclusion:
Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. Ecclesiastes 12:13
DAY 2: Read Isaiah 22:1-13
It’s difficult to work out all the exact details of Isaiah 22. The prophet is addressing concerns with the southern kingdom of Judah. The exile – when God put his people out of the promised land is not far off. They are beginning to feel the impact of attacking nations. In vain (vv8-11) they tried to protect themselves from invaders but made a crucial error – they did not look to God or have regard for his declared plans and purposes. The day of destruction and takeover, had been declared by the Lord and the people had been warned that this is the way it will be because of their blatant disregard for God and their endeavours to mix their religions.
And what was the people’s response? Although they ought to have been humbled as they saw all the Lord’s prophecies come to fulfilment, there was rather, partying and revelling.
In the face of God’s clear rebuke and his disciplining of them, they partied, declaring ‘let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die’. (v13).
Such suppression of the truth and we might say, burying one’s head in the sand, is prevalent in this our day. So many people live life at a very superficial level. They wish to be pay no regard to anything the Lord has to say. Even among the people of God, many simply want to party and not take seriously God’s call to distinctive and holy living. Let’s ensure that we are willing and ready to listen to all that the Lord has to say to us. This doesn’t mean we never party! But it does mean that we take the Lord seriously and that he is first and centre in our lives.
DAY 3: Read 1 Corinthians 15:20-34 (or read from v12)
The point made by the use of this week’s phrase here is simple but profound.
From v12, Paul is exploring the implications if Jesus didn’t actually rise from the dead. A lot of things follow e.g. Paul’s preaching is useless, the Corinthian’s faith is a big waste of time, the apostles are false witnesses, and the people are still in their sins.
Having laid out all these implications, he comes back strongly in v20 and argues “but, Christ has indeed been raised!”
He then entertains some more implications if Christ has not been raised. No one really understands what v29 means, so I’m not going to spend any time on that. He then asks the question, why would I put my life on the line for a lie? He puts his life on the line every day. What would be the point if it were only for ‘human hopes’ i.e. for things in this world? If the dead are not raised (and therefore Jesus has not been raised), we all might as well eat and drink for tomorrow we die. In other words, if you have no hope of eternity – then go for it! This life and what it has to offer is all there is! Eat all you like, get drunk as much as you like, for there is no point in doing anything else – if Jesus has not been raised!
He’s absolutely right isn’t he? If there’s no resurrection and no new creation, then we might as well live as we like here and now! But we are people who know Jesus and his resurrection. We have our hope set firmly on the new creation to come and therefore we take life here far more seriously – and with a far greater sense of purpose and mission and direction and perspective! Praise God!
DAY 4: Read Luke 12:13-21
Greed is possibly one of the most significant sins, about which Christians in the west are either out and out blind or in serious denial.
How many Christians – and those in our community – would be helped to live a generous and dare I say less anxious life if we came to grips with the fact life does not consist in an abundance of possessions v15.
The story Jesus goes on to share is telling. A man who has so much produce in his possession that he can store away all he needs for many years and then put his feet up. He actually is planning a life of plenty and ease. He plans, once he’s built and filled new and better barns to take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.
How many in our society – Christians among them – view retirement that way? The man in Jesus’ story seems to have no thought for others, only himself. The man in Jesus’ story, has no thought of God either! Here is the great reality and sadness for all those who store up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” May the Lord in his grace and mercy save us from becoming anything like that man!
By Mark Calder