The Scriptorium

Mere Beasts?

People are not animals. No kidding. Ecclesiastes 3.18-21

Ecclesiastes 3 (6)

Pray Psalm 147.5, 6.
Great is our Lord, and mighty in power;
His understanding is infinite.
The LORD lifts up the humble;
He casts the wicked down to the ground.

Read Ecclesiastes 3.18-21.

Prepare.
1. How are people like animals? How are they not like animals?

2. How would you answer Solomon’s question in verse 21?

Meditate.
We know that Solomon is reflecting here from an “under the sun” perspective because of his reference to the children of men and to vanity. But note that God is sovereign even over those who refuse to acknowledge Him.

Why is there injustice in the earth? God is testing men, in order to show them that, apart from any absolute and eternal reference point, they are no more than beasts. If men are not made in God’s image, then there can be no other explanation but that human beings are just a higher form of animal, as evolutionary theory insists. For our observations of men and beasts reveal that, whatever may be our differences, we are basically the same, and all are consigned to the same fate. If we do not have God’s Word, telling us that we are His children and showing us how we ought to live, then we have no grounds for supposing ourselves superior to the beasts.

Thus God tests men in order to help them see the folly of trying to make sense out of their lives and experiences apart from Him.

It is interesting to consider that this is precisely where evolutionary and secular thinking leaves us: human beings are animals, differentiated from the other beasts only by our greater brain capacity. Might that be exceeded some day by another creature? Or might AI enable us to go beyond our animal limitations into some new form of Übermensch? What difference does it make?

Secular thinking consigns people to the realm of beasts; thus, we should not be surprised when people consistently act that way. In this time of redemption and restoration, God is testing humankind by allowing people to embrace flimsy and frivolous worldviews which, were they to examine them carefully, they would discover to be nothing more than vanity and feeding on the wind.

The duty of the redeemed, like Solomon seeking to warn his son, is to help those living “under the sun” to see the folly of their thinking and the futility of trying to make sense out of life apart from faith in God.

Reflect.
1. Why is it wrong to classify human beings as a form of animal? How does Psalm 8 teach us to think about our relationship to animals? To God?

2. Evolutionary theory uses animal physiology, psychology, and sociology to draw conclusions relevant to human life. What’s good about this? What’s wrong with it?

3. Does God test people today? Does He test believers? Has He tested you? Why does He do this? What does He want us to learn?

Animals are mortal beings without reason, angels are immortal beings with reason, human beings are mortal beings with reason. Regarding mortality the human being is grouped together with beings without reason. Regarding reason [the human being] is grouped together with the immortal beings, since angels also have reason. Regarding its senses … the human being is of the same kind as the beings without reason. But the human being is receptive to something to which no other mortal being is receptive: its soul can become perfect, as far as this can be achieved, and become like God, as far as it is possible.… Didymus the Blind (313-398), Commentary on Ecclesiastes 99.1

Whatever test You put me through today, Lord, let me pass with flying colors, so that I…

Pray Psalm 147.1-7.
Pray for any unbelievers you will meet today, that God will enable you to show them the kind of dignity, respect, love, and concern that they deserve as His image-bearers.

Sing Psalm 147.1-7.
Psalm 147.1-7 (St. Ann: Our God, Our Help in Ages Past)
Praise God, for it is good to sing loud praises to the Lord!
With joy our songs of praise we bring to God and to His Word.

The Lord builds up His Church and He His people gathers in.
The broken hearts He tenderly repairs and heals their sin.

The stars He counts, He knows the name of every chosen soul;
His pow’r is great, and great His fame Who understands us whole.

The humble God exalts above; the wicked He casts down.
Sing thanks to this great God of love; let songs of praise abound.

T. M. Moore

Where does the book of Ecclesiastes fit in the overall flow of Scripture? Our series of studies, God’s Covenant, can show you, and help you discover the great beauty of the unity and diversity of Scripture, and how it all points to Christ. To order your copy of this important workbook, click here.

You can download all the studies in this series on Ecclesiastes by clicking here. If you value Scriptorium as a free resource for your walk with the Lord, please consider supporting our work with your gifts and offerings. You can contribute to The Fellowship by clicking the Contribute button  at the website or by sending your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from
The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

 

 

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.