Focal Passage: Ecclesiastes 9:3-12, 15-18
What if you woke up one morning and read your obituary in the newspaper? Would you change anything about the way you lived? This frightening thought actually happened to Alfred Nobel. Dr. Nobel was a Swedish industrialist and inventor. Over his lifetime he claimed 350 patents for various discoveries, but the invention that made him both famous and rich was dynamite. He was enjoying his life of luxury when in 1888 a French newspaper mistook the death of his brother, Ludvig, for Alfred. The obit was headlined, “The merchant of death is dead.” Within the text of the death notice was this sentence, “Dr. Alfred Nobel, who made his fortune by finding the way to kill the most people as ever before in the shortest time possible, died yesterday.”
Alfred Nobel was shocked into making a serious life reevaluation. He rewrote his will, dictating that upon his death 94 percent of his total assets were to be used to establish five prizes to be awarded to individuals who have bettered humankind. Some were science related, but the most well-known prize became known as the Nobel Peace Prize. It is awarded to an individual who is deemed to have made a significant contribution that particular year toward world peace. Alfred Nobel was proud to be known as one who would give hope to the world rather than death and destruction.
In today’s passages the Teacher shares a number of thoughts regarding life. He identifies the fact that life is fleeting. Man does not know the amount of time he has, but it is limited.
There is also the aspect of unpredictability. Time and chance happen to all of us (v. 11).
Much like the inner struggle of Dr. Nobel, the Teacher recognizes that wisdom is better than weapons of war, because one sinner can destroy much good (v. 18). Therefore, the exhortation is to make the most of the time you have. Be righteous. Enjoy life and the time you have with your spouse. Whatever you do, do it with passion.