Something New Under the Sun
Reflections on Easter.
Ecclesiastes 1 is a great Easter passage.
4 Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.
5 The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.
6 The wind blows to the south
and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
ever returning on its course.
7 All streams flow into the sea,
yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
there they return again.
8 All things are wearisome,
more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
nor the ear its fill of hearing.
9 What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one can say,
“Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.
11 No one remembers the former generations,
and even those yet to come
will not be remembered
by those who follow them.
Not feeling Eastery?
Notice the weariness and cynicism. Notice the endless cycles; round and round and round. Notice the sense of heaviness and hopelessness. That's exactly the right backdrop for Easter.
Ecclesiastes is singing the mournful song of life under the shroud of death, life under the thick blanket of the curse which lies over the whole world, frustrating everything, making every work futile, every wise word nonsense. History is doomed to repeat itself. Generations and empires rise and fall like the tides. People are born, they live, have offspring, die, their great great grandchildren don't even know their names. Meaningless, meaningless.
But then comes the great Easter question:
Is there anything of which one can say
“Look! This is something new”?
In the context of Ecclesiastes it sounds like a depressed, rhetorical question but it's the right question. Could there, one day, be something new under the sun? Could there, one day, be One who comes from outside, from above the sun, from above the blanket of curse, into our world? Could there be One who will break the terrifying rule of death; achieve escape velocity from the vortex; do something that has never ever been seen in history?
YES!! THAT'S EASTER!!
For the first time in history the cycle was smashed. A man was born, lived, died... and rose victorious into indestructible, glorious, new-creation, resurrection life. On that 'first day of the week' almost 2000 years ago, in a garden on the outskirts of Jerusalem you could have pointed and said, "Look! There is something new!"
Read 1 Corinthians 15. Christ has risen from the dead. Fact. He was seen by over 500 people, some still alive at the time of writing. And because of that event in history - that New Thing - life is no longer vanity of vanities. His resurrection guarantees the resurrection of all who hang onto him; his exit from the cycle guarantees ours; his victory changes everything here and now from futile chaff to 'NOT IN VAIN'.
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. [1 Cor 15:55,58]