The Divine Sabotage: An Exegetical And Theological Study Of Ecclesiastes 3 -- By: Dan Lioy

Journal: Conspectus
Volume: CONSPECTUS 05:1 (Mar 2008)
Article: The Divine Sabotage: An Exegetical And Theological Study Of Ecclesiastes 3
Author: Dan Lioy


The Divine Sabotage: An Exegetical And Theological Study Of Ecclesiastes 31

by Dan Lioy2

Abstract3

The author uses the concept of the “divine sabotage” as a starting point for an exegetical and theological study of Ecclesiastes 3. He notes that on the one hand, God has “set eternity in the human heart” (v. 11). Yet, on the other hand, “no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end”. The author explains that God has imposed limitations on the human race that undermine their efforts to look beyond the present—especially to understand the past and probe into the future. Expressed differently, because people are creatures of time, their heavenly-imposed finitude subverts their ability to fathom the eternal plan of God. An objective, balanced, and affirming examination of Solomon’s treatise indicates that the fundamental quality of life is defined by revering God and heeding His commandments (cf. 12:13).

1. Introduction

The idea for the title of this essay comes from Roland Murphy’s discussion of Ecclesiastes 3:11 (1987:256; 1992:39). The verse states that God has “set eternity in the human heart, yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end”.4 Murphy explains that God has placed within people an awareness of “the timeless”, namely, a “sense of duration”. Yet, He also prevents people “from understanding what [He] is about in all the key undertakings of life”. This is a “case of divine sabotage” in which humanity’s efforts to look beyond the present—especially to understand the past and probe into the future—are subverted by numerous heavenly-imposed limitations.

Seow (1997:173) remarked that “God is responsible for giving both time and eternity, and the human being is caught in the tension between the two”. In a similar vein, Bridges (1860:68) observed that people “can neither unravel the thread of [God’s] counsels, nor grasp the infinite perfection of his work”. Kaiser (1979:60) described the finitude and frustration of human beings in this way: “So vast, so eternal, and so comprehensive in its inclusion is [God’s] plan that man is both threatened and exasperated in his attempts to discover it for himself”. Williams (1984:257) maintains that God “does not resolve the crisis” for humankind. Instead...

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