Apr 23, 2011
neil

The God who hides himself – how Ecclesiastes answers Easter Saturday

Did they even sleep that night? How can we ever think ourselves into the situation of those first disciples on Easter Saturday.  How can we begin to even imagine what it must have felt like to see every hope evaporate and every confidence in God shattered. Was their decision to leave everything to follow this man of God nothing but a huge mistake. Was their conviction that this man Jesus was God’s Messiah and that the Kingdom lay just around the corner nothing but a demonstration of their own collective god delusion.

Like a spiritual tsunami everything was swept away by the savage crucifixion of the very one they called ‘Lord and Master’.  Easter Saturday was a day of utter bewilderment.  It turns out that it was not only Jesus who felt abandoned by God.

The book of Ecclesiastes is a book written for Easter Saturday experiences. It speaks into those situations and circumstances in life that have the potential to rob us of every confidence that God is good and that he is ruling. The book is a book for those times when God’s providence is dark indeed and life makes no sense at all.

JI Packer in his book Knowing God writes;

What the preacher wants to show him [his younger disciple] is that the real basis of wisdom is a frank acknowledgement that this world’s course is enigmatic, that much of what happens is quite inexplicable to us, and that most occurrences ‘under the sun’ bear no outward sign of a rational, moral God ordering them at all.

Rarely does this world look as if a beneficent Providence were running it. Rarely does it appear that there is a rational power behind it at all. Often and often what is worthless survives, while what is valuable perishes. Be realistic says the preacher; face these facts; see life as it is. You will have no true wisdom till you do.

God is at work in the darkness. The promises of God assure us that he is working out his purposes. Peter would one day stand before the crowds in Jerusalem and with conviction declare;

This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.

No more so than on Easter Saturday are we reminded that

the truth is that God in His wisdom, to make and keep us humble, and to teach us to walk by faith, has hidden from us almost everything that we should like to know about the providential purposes which He is working out in the churches and in our own lives.

This is the way of wisdom. Clearly, it is just one facet of the life of faith. For what underlies and sustains it? Why the conviction that the inscrutable God of providence is the wise and gracious God of creation and redemption.

And Easter Sunday would prove how sure that conviction is.

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