Summary: Spend your kid's inheritance while you can. After all the world will die with you. This is the wisdom of the world. Is that any way to live? And what happens to you when you die?
Does the World End when You Die?
Does the world end when you die? For many, the answer is yes. These people would say that the world came into existence when they became aware of it as an infant, when they could identify themselves for the first time. These same people would hold that the world comes to at end when they die. Whether the world existed before they were born for others doesn’t matter. And if it exists for anyone afterwards, it doesn’t matter. Spend your kids inheritance while you can; they will probably blow it anyway.
The Preacher in the book of Ecclesiastes was fixated on his own death. This gloomy theme appears throughout the book. Death had come to the Preacher long before he took his last breath. Everything that he undertook in order to amuse himself crashed when he started thinking about the fact that he had an appointment with death.
In this text, the Preacher compares wisdom and folly. As long as there is life, he notes that there is a day and night difference between them. The wise man can see where he is going, but the fool goes blindly on. This is what conventional wisdom says to us as well. But once death is introduced into the equation, what is the difference for the person who thinks that this life is all there is. The wise man and the fool die, sooner or later. The Preacher in Ecclesiastes does not reveal much hope in life after death, and even these slim possibilities are dyed with gloom and judgment. So the Preacher becomes fully depressed and asks the question: “Is this all there is?”
The result of all his wearisome labor was that he would suffer the same fate as the fool. In many ways, he was even a bigger fool than the fool himself. The fool is blind to the uselessness and despair of life where the wise man can see where life is leading to and what that means to his dreams under the sun. The fool under the sun can eat, drink, and be merry until death surprises him. The wise man under the sun knows that darkness is coming and that he and the fool are both blind to what comes next.
The Preacher like many in this world tries to make the best of it. He can leave a legacy. His fame can outlive him. But history renders fame into dust just like decay for the body does. Soon most of one’s works, however great, are rendered to the gloom of the library that few read. Most people have not attained to the greatness of Solomon, yet in this country, how many people could write an intelligent paragraph about him? Fame dies by a thousand cuts. As more and more people have to be squeezed into the history books, then more and more has to be cut out from the distant past. The Preacher knew this too. And each time he remembered it, he was cut to the heart with despair. We read in the last passage how egotistical Solomon was. A greater punishment cannot be inflicted upon an egomaniac that to become irrelevant. The egotist wants to be remembered for good or for ill. And if the truth be known, we all have this in us, we just lack the means of becoming famous. This is why we have spectacular acts of public violence. People will do just about anything to be recognized, whether for good or ill.