April 01, 2009 by
Both the Church and the World Misunderstand Heaven
Ecclesiastes and the Dark Side of the Moon
Previous posts in the series:
Chapter 1/Speak to Me-Breathe
Chapter 2/On the Run
The parallel between the two works tends to break up in sequence, but not in subject matter. In the last song called, “Time” the main character suffers a midlife crisis in realizing that he has not accomplished anything of significance with his life.
For a fleeting moment, at the end of the song, “Time” a tag song, “Breathe (Reprise)” the character has come up for air once more in gaining his bearings by looking back home. He even considers the possibility of embracing religion as he hears “far away across the field, The tolling of the iron bell” which “Calls the faithful to their knees ” but then dismisses the thought of God as “softly spoken magic spells.”
The lost have an arrogant assumption about heaven that they can go there just like anyone else, when in truth no one can go without accepting the salvation of mankind given through Jesus Christ. The thought that it would be better to die than live becomes the temptation for suicide for so many when they do not understand the afterlife, as the next song, “The Great Gig in the Sky” plays as a dreamy reverie of a longed for peace not found on Earth.
Solomon, on the other hand, who is exploring all the temptations of the world in Ecclesiastes, never loses sight of the true living God. He knows that he is experimenting. He, unlike the character in the Dark Side of the Moon, is willfully testing God. He knows that God has already said that these things of the world are bad, but he is proving it to himself, in his excursion into the flesh and the world, that God is right. He reminds us that we are not to come before God lightly. This is a serious matter.
Appearing Before God
1 Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil.
2 Do not be rash with your mouth, And let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; Therefore let your words be few.
3 For a dream comes through much activity, And a fool’s voice is known by his many words.
4 When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; For He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed—
5 Better not to vow than to vow and not pay.
6 Do not let your mouth cause your flesh to sin, nor say before the messenger of God that it was an error. Why should God be angry at your excuse and destroy the work of your hands?
7 For in the multitude of dreams and many words there is also vanity. But fear God.
1 A good name is better than precious ointment, And the day of death than the day of one’s birth;
2 Better to go to the house of mourning Than to go to the house of feasting, For that is the end of all men; And the living will take it to heart.
3 Sorrow is better than laughter, For by a sad countenance the heart is made better.
4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, But the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
5 It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise Than for a man to hear the song of fools.
6 For like the crackling of thorns under a pot, So is the laughter of the fool. This also is vanity.
13 Consider the work of God; For who can make straight what He has made crooked?
14 In the day of prosperity be joyful, But in the day of adversity consider: Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other, So that man can find out nothing that will come after him.
15 I have seen everything in my days of vanity: There is a just man who perishes in his righteousness, And there is a wicked man who prolongs life in his wickedness.
16 Do not be overly righteous, Nor be overly wise: Why should you destroy yourself?
17 Do not be overly wicked, Nor be foolish: Why should you die before your time?
6. The Great Gig in the Sky
“And I am not frightened of dying, any time will do, I
don’t mind. Why should I be frightened of dying?
There’s no reason for it, you’ve gotta go sometime.”
“If you can hear this whispering you are dying.”
“I never said I was frightened of dying.”
The afterlife is enshrouded with much confusion. Even the church of Jesus Christ is confused about what God is doing in our lives and what His plan for us in the future will be.
The first point to understand is that God never made Heaven to be the home of mankind. Heaven, like the Lake of Fire was created for angels. Solomon tells us that the earth ever abides (Ecc. 1:4) and Isaiah said that God made the Earth to be inhabited (Isa. 45:18). Heaven is not the permanent home of men, but the Earth is.
The English word “heaven” is a derivative of the word “haven”, which is a temporary shelter from a storm for ships at sea. So, our going to Heaven is a temporary residence for those who die in Christ, until Christ returns and we all are given our glorified bodies to dwell anew upon the Earth.
For the church, we are already in heaven for we are seated at the right hand of Christ (Eph. 1:20), but it is not apparent because it is our spirits that are already with the Lord, but our bodies are still focused on the Earth. This is why Paul told the Corinthians that we are to look upon the eternal, not the temporal (2 Cor. 4:18).
Many in the Church struggle today because they are mislead by the pulpit regarding Heaven. The message heard by both the Church and the lost in the world is that Heaven is a future, far off matter. As I said regarding the character in the Dark Side of the Moon, he thinks he can go to heaven and escape the trials of this life. He errs in not understanding that he has to have the price of admission paid for him by Christ. But his error is just as bad as the error of the Church in assuming that Heaven is a future event.
We have already died with Christ, so when the Bible says that in a twinkling of an eye we will be changed, that twinkling is the removal of the barrier that hinders us from seeing what we already have. When Paul said that we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7) he was not talking about “name it and claim it” faith. He was talking about reckoning ourselves already dead. The power of God works through us when we die to self. Our walk in Christ is not burdensome, for Jesus said that His burden was easy and His yoke was light.
The rest that the character in Pink Floyd’s story is looking for is not found in physical death, but spiritual rebirth. The new birth brings a believer who will embrace it, into the Lord’s rest, which is the real rest of Heaven. Letting Christ rule and reign in your hearts means giving Him full control of your life, and for us to trust Him as the Lord builds our house with the abundant life. No Christian who has surrendered his life to Christ, need contemplate suicide. If one does, it is because one is trying to control life instead of allowing the Lord to control life. The irony is that suicide is the right train, but the wrong track. Physcial suicide will fail, but self denial as a type of suicide of will for the Lord’s will, succeeds.