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5 Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way [derech], and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden [drags himself along], and desire shall fail: because man [haAdam] goeth to his long home [bais olam], and the mourners go about the streets:
'...the Hebrew baith olam, "man goeth to the House of Olam," house of the unseen, instead of long home, as in the English Version; that is, the grave.
When men are therein deposited they are invisible; hence the grave becomes their house, oikos, in which they are unseen. They are then in hades.
'...The pulai hadou, the Gates of Hades, or the gates of the unseen, is used in Matt. xvi. 18. To say as there, that they should not prevail against Christ's ecclesia, was to predict the resurrection of his saints; and that they should no more be shut in from the outside world by grave or sepulchre. The dead are truly themselves the unseen, as well as in the unseen... They are all invisible. The grave, which is the mouth, or gate, of this vast subterranean hall, has eaten them up, and consumed their form. Ask for them; but you ask in vain; they are all there, but you cannot see them; therefore they are in Hades, or in Sheol.
"Our Saxon word Hell," says Lord King, "in its original signification, exactly answers to the Greek word Hades, and denotes a concealed or unseen place; and this sense of the word is still retained in the eastern, and especially in the western counties of England; to hele over a thing is to cover it."
The modern, or Laodicean use of hell is not the scriptural use of hades or sheol; but the old mythology of the heathen -- the fabulous theory according to which they fitted up and furnished, the vast subterranean we have supposed, with flames, sulphur, brazen-throated dogs, furies, and such like.
Plato, speaking of all this mythological apparatus and the legends appended to it, says, "Which, under the name of Hades and similar titles, men (that is, pagans) greatly fear, and dream about living and dissolved of bodies." This last expression is explained by what he says elsewhere:
"For be well assured, O Socrates, that when any one is near that time in which he thinks he is going to die, there enter into him fear and anxiety. For then the old stories about Hades, how that the man who has here been guilty of wrong must there suffer punishments, torture his soul. Wherefore he who in the retrospect of his life, finds many crimes, like frightened children starting from their sleep, is terrified, and lives in evil forebodings."
Thus, as Paul says, "through fear of death they were all their lifetime subject to bondage" -- afraid, like the heathen of the Laodicean Apostasy, of what awaits them in the unseen. Hence, when they approach dissolution of body, terror seizes them, and they send for the priest of Plato, or some minor god, in ancient and modern times, to calm their panic by the pseudo-consolations of their respective delusions.
'...This Hades is a great and voracious destroyer, the cruel ally of Death...the Spirit tells us by Paul, that Death is the last enemy, and shall be destroyed; and apocalyptically by John, that "there shall be no more death," and "no more curse" (xxi. 4; xxii. 3). "Death, is," then, "swallowed up in victory," which victory is obtained through Jesus Christ.
Temporarily, victory is on the side of Death and his companion Hades; but when he and she have come to "the End," their power and victory over the faithful will prove to have been without permanent results. Then, "O Death, where is thy sting? O Hades, where thy victory?" Both abolished with the abolition of every curse for sin will be served no more on earth; and therefore, "the wages of sin," which "is death" will no more be earned and paid; so that Hades having no more victims for her devouring maw, is herself destroyed -- she dies for the want of sustenance.
What a glorious and blissful consummation is this of human affairs. Instead of generation after generation of our unhappy race, rushing like a torrent into the deep caverns of the unseen never more to see the light of day; instead of sword, famine, pestilence, and all the mishaps of fire, flood and field, sweeping them for seven thousand years into a subterranean prison-house, within whose gates they are barred up for ever; instead of this, the time will have arrived for every individual dweller upon the earth to be, what Jesus Christ is now -- incorruptible, deathless, glorious, and powerful; Deity manifested in glorified nature -- ho Theos ta panta en pasin, the Deity the all things in all men.
12 And further, by these, my son [beni], be admonished: of making many books [sefarim]there is no end [ketz]; and much study is a weariness of the flesh [basar].
Man can accumulate wisdom and knowledge, only Yahweh can give it meaning and life with the great gift of joy.
''And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart'. (Jer 29:13)
13 Let us hear the conclusion [sof] of the whole matter: Fear Elohim, and keep [be shomer] his commandments: for this is the whole man.
The full, complete, perfect man -- the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ -- the called-out, multitudinous Son of Man -- the Yahweh-Elohim who shall bear God's Name and in whom He will be glorifted for the eternal ages.
Bro Growcott - This is the whole man.
People have struggled for millennia to tackle questions on what is the meaning or purpose of life, what is life all about, and why are we here, and these questions have been a subject of much philosophical, scientific and theological speculation.
While the prospect of a utopian society has never been more remote, and present society seems intractably sub-optimal in terms of the chances of individual fulfillment, Scripture teaches us that those who have a reverential fear of God and keep His commandments will have found the true meaning of life in their completeness, and this brings about a full sense of contentment!
Life did not come about by chance, and equally life was not given without purpose. Our creation was intended to give God pleasure by seeking Him, by getting to know Him, and by being a reflection of His glory.
Solomon answers the value of these practical questions, while seemingly a profound and an elusive mystery, to be about being one with our Creator! It is about our obedience and submission to His will.
Existentialists think life has no meaning; Wittgenstein believed these were all meaningless questions; Darwinians thought the meaning of life was to produce more life. The problem is we have been asking the wrong questions! If we change the questions to how we may gain satisfaction from life, we will find a whole new set of answers, as Solomon declared.
Sis. Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA] Comment added in 2011