March 29, 2009 by
Because we die, time is precious
Ecclesiastes and the Dark Side of the Moon
Previous posts in the series:
Chapter 1/Speak to Me-Breathe
Chapter 2/On the Run
Time without death loses its force of impact. In the world before Noah death came after many centuries, but after the Flood, lifespans diminished rapidly, from a few centuries to a mere 70 years on average.
The world system runs on this reality of short lives giving strength to the significance of deadlines. The trauma of the mid-life crisis for men has emotional turmoil because in the assessment of a man’s life, many goals and dreams may not have been accomplished and time is running out. Aging single women become stressful as they watch the biological clock tick away, and the reality in knowing that they may never marry or be mothers hits them with full force.
Solomon, unlike the victim in Pink Floyd’s story, knows that God has arranged time in the world giving different purposes for different seasons of life. Even though Solomon understood that both the wise and the fool have the same fate of death, he still realized that living life wisely was superior than living it foolishly. Wisdom tells us to understand what the purpose is in any given time and live accordingly.
In my comparison between the book of Ecclesiastes and the Dark Side of the Moon I have omitted many of the positive statements made by Solomon to highlight the parallels between the two works. But is should be noted that throughout the book, Solomon does not yield to total despair because he remembers God in all his musings. For example in this chapter I have omitted these verses:
11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.
12 I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives,
13 and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God.
14 I know that whatever God does,
It shall be forever.
Nothing can be added to it,
And nothing taken from it.
God does it, that men should fear before Him.
15 That which is has already been,
And what is to be has already been;
And God requires an account of what is past.
For Solomon is exploring the world system in its fullness to prove the utter vanity of living life without God, whereas the Pink Floyd work has no knowledge of God, hence the utter despair.
In the fourth song of the Dark Side of the Moon, simply called, “Time,” which is immediately followed by the fifth song, “Breathe Reprisal,” we hear the sound of alarms that time is running out for the man in a mid life crisis where he realizes that he has not accomplished anything significant. The immanence of death in his life causes him to pause and reflect briefly upon the possibility of there being a God as suggested by the sound of church bells in the “Breathe Reprisal”. But for the character in Pink Floyds rock opera, he only has his imagination of who God is, without the assurance of knowing God personally through Jesus Christ, so he dismisses their gathering as merely “softly spoken magic spells.”
When one does not know the reality of God in their life, then the meaninglessness of life and death can only be mollified by doing something significant such as having an impact on the world who will then remember us after death. Significance takes on extraordinary value in this line of thinking. Christ brings significance to the individual when one realizes that God has made us for His purpose and our value rests in His wanting us, and not in trying to make others want us.
Ecclesiastes Chapter 3
1 To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
2 A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
3 A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;
4 A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to gain,
And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
And a time to throw away;
7 A time to tear,
And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak;
8 A time to love,
And a time to hate;
A time of war,
And a time of peace.
16 Moreover I saw under the sun: In the place of judgment, Wickedness was there; And in the place of righteousness, Iniquity was there.
17 I said in my heart, “God shall judge the righteous and the wicked, For there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.”
18 I said in my heart, “Concerning the condition of the sons of men, God tests them, that they may see that they themselves are like animals.”
19 For what happens to the sons of men also happens to animals; one thing befalls them: as one dies, so dies the other. Surely, they all have one breath; man has no advantage over animals, for all is vanity.
20 All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust.
(Mason, Waters, Wright, Gilmour) 7:06
Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way.
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way.
Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain.
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today.
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you.
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.
So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again.
The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older,
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.
Every year is getting shorter never seem to find the time.
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way
The time is gone, the song is over,
Thought I’d something more to say.
5. Breathe (reprise)
Home, home again.
I like to be here when I can.
When I come home cold and tired
It’s good to warm my bones beside the fire.
Far away across the field
The tolling of the iron bell
Calls the faithful to their knees
To hear the softly spoken magic spells.
The lesson for the Church is in knowing how to manage our time according to the purpose of God. We are not under deadlines like the world, even though we all die, too. Elijah was given 3 tasks by the Lord to do, yet he only did one of them, which was to anoint Elisha as his successor. The other two tasks (anoint Hazael king of Syria and anoint Jehu king of Israel – 1 Kings 19:15 & 16) were accomplished by Elisha. In other words, God will get what He wants done with or without us, so the burden is not on our shoulders, but His. And that makes all the difference in the world. For Elijah, the love of God for him was not changed by his disobedience, for God still took him to heaven in a chariot of fire. We are privileged to work with God, but are not needed by God. We know that God is the author of time, and has created a plan for us (Jer. 29:11) and is fulfilling His plan for our lives (Phil. 1:6), so we do not despair.
For the Church, we want to understand the time and purposes of God to participate with Him. Since we are given the privilege to work with God, we also remember that we still face the judgment seat of Christ, so we want to face Him and hear Him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” But any effort done in our own strength is a work of the flesh that does nothing good, so we abide in His rest and wait upon the Lord.
We have the Great Commission to share the gospel to the lost. The urgency for the Church is not our death, but theirs. But the life of the Gospel is only imparted to the lost when we speak in the timing of the Lord. As Solomon said in Proverbs:
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. (Prov 25:11 KJV)
So while abiding in His rest we wait on the Lord for His divine appointments and speak when He wants us to speak.