On Irish Election Leaflets… and the Living and the Dead

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In recent times we have had a variety of postmen, who perhaps are not as well acquainted as our old postman with those who live in this rural community. I therefore often have to ‘play postwoman’ as I deliver the right post to the right houses! Just this week we have had numerous election leaflets delivered by the postal service… and then an isolated leaflet from one particular party was delivered this morning. I looked at the name and address and sorrowfully shook my head, for this person had sadly passed away some years ago. No, I wouldn’t be delivering this one as I would never be able to communicate with this person ever again… certainly not in this life anyway.

As coincidence would have it, I am presently reading in the Book of Ecclesiastes, a Book which I find unique in the Bible, much of it appearing to reveal man’s conclusions about the hopelessness and vanity of life. For example Chapter 3v19 states: “For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminance above a beast: for all is vanity.” Now, those who know the Lord also know that there is much more to the existence of mankind and we cannot take this verse in isolation. Reading on in this chapter there is a question in verse 22… “Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?” Praise God the answers to such questions are to be found in the final two verses of Ecclesiastes. Containing ultimate wisdom, they bring this fascinating Book to a wise conclusion… “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgement, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” (Chapter 12v13&14)

The incident of the mistakenly delivered election leaflet and the Book of Ecclesiastes brought many thoughts to mind. First of all I was thinking that it had been a while since we’d had a visit from the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but I also know that they don’t like to ‘do their rounds’ while political parties are out canvassing at the same time. Here is a cult which very often does quote little portions of verses in isolation and one example is this… “the dead know not anything.” (Ecclesiastes 9v5). Unfortunately these isolated few words from a verse are taken to support their view on what happens to a soul after death.

I, however, feel that we must quote from verses 4,5&6: “For to him that is joined to all living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.”

“For a living dog is better than a dead lion…” Imagine a situation where the person to whom the leaflet was addressed had been wealthy in the things of this world and also had been held in very high esteem by the local community – but where is this person now with regard to eternity? Surely there is more hope for the living poverty-stricken than the rich who have died in their sin? While there is life, there is hope – the joyous hope that souls still living in this the Day of Grace have the opportunity to get right with God.

Verses 5&6 of Ecclesiastes 9 tell us of the lot of those who have no hope beyond the grave – but Revelation 14v12&13 describe the inheritance of those who have loved and served the Lord: “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.”

The “harvest of the world” is surely coming and “the night cometh, when no man can work.” (John 9v4) Precious souls are dying around us with no hope beyond the grave and so those who know the Lord must work for Him while it is yet day.

The following verses of Ecclesiastes I find good encouragement and exhortation for those servants who seek to serve the Master while it is day…

Ecclesiastes 9v10: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, no device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” Surely our opportunity to serve Him by reaching souls is now – in this life?

Ecclesiastes 11v1: “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.” This can apply to giving to the Lord’s work and it may also apply to the words that we write or speak for the Lord through the years of our lives; kind deeds, too, can speak to souls of the love of God for them and His desire to see them saved.

Ecclesiastes 11v4-6: “He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap. As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all. In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.” There are many hindrances thrown our way to prevent us from serving the Lord, but we must keep our eyes upon Him and not upon the dark clouds of potential trouble which we feel may thwart our efforts to do His will. “For if God be for us… who can be against us?”

Political parties may come and go and the philosophies of this world change with changing times but “the Word of the Lord endureth for ever” – and only what is accomplished for Him will last.

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