1 Chronicles 29:15
Indeed how contrary these words are to the mindset of the man of the world. He believes this life to be the ultimate reality. As such, all his energies are devoted chiefly to being fulfilled and contented in this life, even hoping to extend his existence here on earth as long as possible. Any existence beyond this life is unknown to him, or of little concern. Oh, he may express some interest in some heaven yet to come of his own imagination, but his devotion is directed to what he can now touch and see on this earth.
But in our verse, we are firstly reminded that, like a shadow, this life on earth is fleeting. In Psalm 103 David wrote, “As for man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more” (verses 15-16). Similarly in a prayer of Moses we read, “The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away” (Psalm 90:10).
How strange that in our youth we naively think we have many long years ahead with plenty of time to do all that we want to do. Very little serious consideration is applied to “redeeming the time”. But in our later years we look back and say, “Where did it all go?”, realizing how much valuable time was frittered away in empty pursuits. Time marches on relentlessly and as someone has said, it waits for no one.
We also see in our verse that, like a shadow, our life on earth, if considered only by itself, is vanity. King Solomon was given the means to indulge himself in every imaginable worldly pursuit including money, power, position, knowledge, and partying, to name a few. And yet, when he looked back on all these quests for happiness and meaning, all he could say was, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). They were all empty and meaningless because riches vanished, power dissipated, position disappeared, knowledge could only be partial, and partying didn’t last.
Finally, we know that a shadow either dispels when all is light, or it blends in with utter darkness when all light is removed. And so like a shadow, we learn from our verse that our life on earth will either end in perfect light, or perfect darkness. And that’s the ultimate reality! You see, a shadow is just that, a shadow. It has no true substance in and of itself. It only has meaning when it is related to that for which it is a shadow. And so too life on this earth is merely a shadow, and only makes sense when it’s understood relative to that for which it is a shadow, namely eternity. This shadow of life is quickly coming to an end, and whether your eternity results in perfect light, or perfect darkness has everything to do with how you use this life to prepare for that time.
Isaiah prophesied, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined” (Isaiah 9:2). This prophecy was fulfilled in the coming of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, into the world, “the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world” (John 1:9). And in the Light of Christ, we are exposed for the sinners that we are. The Bible makes it very clear that, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). And God is a holy God who hates sin and is determined to punish it.
There are many, however, who refuse to come into the Light, who refuse to repent of their sins, and by faith embrace Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. To them Jesus says, “This is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). For them, the shadow of life on earth will become an eternity of dreadful and utter darkness. They will never see the light again!
But there are others for whom it can be said, “It is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in (their) hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). And in response, they have gone to Christ Jesus in repentance and by faith, looking to Him alone as the One who lived perfectly in their place, and who died in their place for their sins. Their treasure is now in eternity and this passing shadow life is lived in a holy anticipation of the reality of the life to come, which will be a life lived in the perfect light of Jesus Christ.
What are you doing with your days on earth? Are you investing them in seeking out the Light of Christ, or are you foolishly moving further into utter darkness? The Apostle Paul wrote, “If then you are raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1-3). Can that be said of you?