In September past my wife, Tracy, her sister, Julie, her mother, Margaret, and I spent a week together in Donegal.
When we reached Clonmany we found we had to park the car and continue on foot to reach our destination.
After walking for a few minutes we came across a waterfall.
However, contrary to what we had been told, it was a bit pathetic. There were a few rocks protruding from the hillside and a tiny trickle of water flowed down into a stream below.
I am sure many others have felt as we did: disappointed at the lacklustre waterfall and irritated by a wasted trip. But just as we were about to turn around and head back to the car we noticed a signpost.
It simply read ‘WATERFALL’ and pointed up the path beyond the ‘waterfall’ we were looking at. In essence, what this signpost was saying was ‘Don’t stop here, keep going, there is something better’.
The Bible is full of signposts just like this. Signposts which say ‘Don’t stop here, keep going, there is something better’.
One of these signposts is the book of Ecclesiastes.
This is one of my favourite books in the Bible. It is a book of intrigue and is unique within Scripture.
This is what the Teacher in Ecclesiastes says “’Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.’” (Ecc. 1:2 NIV).
The Teacher proceeds to explain sweeping statement. He notes that relationships (2:8), money (6:2), food (5:17), fame (4:13-16) and knowledge (1:18) are all meaningless. In effect he says that absolutely everything is meaningless – completely meaningless, empty, futile, vain, transitory.
What the Teacher of Ecclesiastes is essentially saying is ‘Don’t stop here, keep going, there is something better’. Don’t stop here on this earth, keep going, because there is something better.
That something better isn’t fully developed within the book of Ecclesiastes.
But, when we get to the Gospel of John, Jesus explains ‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full’ (Jn. 10:10 NIV). However, Jesus isn’t saying he has come so that we may enjoy relationships, money, food, fame and knowledge to the full. Well, not necessarily.
No! When Jesus says ‘life’ he is speaking of eternal life – not a transitory life here on this earth but an eternal life, a life everlasting – a life that will not end. And when he says ‘life to the full’ he is speaking of life scarcely imaginable – a life better than you can believe, a life beyond your imagination – a life you couldn’t create.
Ecclesiastes is a signpost pointing us to eternal life.
This is the something better that the book of Ecclesiastes is pointing to.
We must take heed of this warning, of this signpost unless we miss out on the something better.
Too many of us get caught up with the things of this world. We invest time, effort and money in relationships, earning money, consuming food, chasing fame and gaining knowledge. Unfortunately though, we often invest too much effort, time and money in these things. Unfortunately these things often begin to rule us.
Now, this is not to say that we should neglect these things. No, these things are a gift from God and should be enjoyed (2:24). But they need to be enjoyed with the knowledge that they will remain on this earth when we die.
After we followed the signpost and continued on the path for about a kilometre we came across a much more picturesque waterfall.
A constant, dense flow of water plummeted over the edge falling about 10 metres and crashed into the deep pool beneath. This waterfall didn’t create a stream, but a river. It was better by far than the first waterfall, and well worth the drive and the walk.
In the end we were glad that we had seen the signpost and travelled further to see the something better.
Will we do the same with the signposts in Scripture – there is something better than this world, there is something that comes after, there is something worth holding out for.
So, don’t stop here…
Note: The ideas and language concerning John 10:10 have been borrowed from D. A. Carson’s commentary on John in the Pillar New Testament series.