Does Ecclesiastes contain statements that don’t make sense to Christians?


In your article, "Do people know what is happening on earth after their death?", you plainly state the dead don't know what happens on Earth. After looking at Coffman's Commentaries on Ecclesiastes 9 he points out interesting points in the chapter. If dead refers to "dead people" in verse 5, what is meant by them having no further reward? If this pertains to a spiritual reward, we know for a fact some will receive a reward (Matthew 7:13-14,21-23). However, are you saying this reward is a reference to physical things?

Moreover, if brother Coffman is flawed in his thinking, what is meant by no one knows whether God will show them favor? Paul surely thought God would show favor (II Timothy 4:6-8) and also another example of favor in I John 5:13.

Moreover, verse 2 says the same destiny ultimately awaits everyone, again what is this reference to?

Many problems seem to arise if we don't believe as brother Coffman says,

"This chapter actually concludes the part of Ecclesiastes which is the most difficult to understand and interpret. Up to this point Solomon has written a lot of things which, to a Christian, do not make any sense at all. What is the explanation of this? ... We find it impossible to believe that "all is vanity," a declaration that occurs dozens of times in the book. Nor can it be true that men and animals have the same fate. Who can believe that, "Eat, drink, and be joyful," is, in any sense whatever, the ultimate meaning and employment of life? It is impossible to believe that the "dead know nothing," except in a limited sense. Moses and Elijah stood on the mountain of transfiguration and carried on a conversation with Jesus Christ. Of course, Solomon lived before the magnificent revelation of life and immortality that were brought to mankind in the life and teachings of the Christ; but Solomon's father David certainly would never have said a lot of things that one finds in Ecclesiastes."

What are your thoughts on brother Coffman's thinking?


That brother Coffman was trying to extend examples beyond what they were intended to make.

"For the living know that they will die; But the dead know nothing, And they have no more reward, For the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished; Nevermore will they have a share In anything done under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 9:5-6).

Why do the dead have no more reward? Because people who live after them have forgotten them. This is not about eternal reward because we have not received that yet, let alone have more of it. The rewards here are about the honors people give in memory of what you have done.

"All things come alike to all: One event happens to the righteous and the wicked; To the good, the clean, and the unclean; To him who sacrifices and him who does not sacrifice. As is the good, so is the sinner; He who takes an oath as he who fears an oath. This is an evil in all that is done under the sun: that one thing happens to all. Truly the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil; madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead" (Ecclesiastes 9:2-3).

Solomon's point is that one event (death) happens to everyone. It doesn't matter if you are good, bad, clean, unclean, religious, or faithless. In a sense, Solomon is saying it is a shame that how a person lives here on earth doesn't change whether they die or not.

The claim that Solomon didn't know enough is one that denies that Ecclesiastes was written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. "And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (II Peter 1:19-21). That brother Coffman was unable to understand what Holy Spirit wrote through Solomon only reflects brother Coffman's lack of understanding and not that the Spirit's words could not be understood and are consistent with the rest of the Scriptures.

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