Who? When? Where? Why? In particular we always want to know “Why?”
The number one question is, “Why do we exist?”
Nothing makes sense unless we know the reason for our existence.
The Writer of Ecclesiastes Fails to Find the Answer to “Why?”
The writer of Ecclesiastes was perplexed about the issue of existence. He had explored everything under the sun (Ecclesiastes 3:16; 4:1; 5:18; 9:1 etc.) and he didn’t get satisfaction. According to him all was vanity: “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher: “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity (Ecclesiastes 1:2).”
To him nothing made sense. The world went endlessly round and round; men worked tirelessly without profit and they ended their days with no trace (v 11). All was like the wind (v 6); it came, it went and it knew not from where it came or where it was going.
Some experts attribute the writing of Ecclesiastes to King Solomon, a man who was given wisdom by God. In a dream God said to him, “…… , I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you (1 Kings 3:12).”’ So it is perplexing why Solomon could not fully answer the “Why do we exist?” question. He came to the conclusion that God would judge people at the end of their lives (Ecclesiastes 11:9; 12:14); they would return to the earth as dust (12:7), and they were to ‘fear God and keep His commandments ( v 13).’ But the “Why?” aspect alluded him.
Old Testament Characters who asked “Why?” Questions
The Old Testament is full of characters who were perplexed as to what was going on in their time. Moses was one such person. He was puzzled why God treated him and His people in the way He did. God had commissioned him to bring His people out of Egypt into the promised land (Exodus 3:14, 15). God didn’t want them to have any misunderstanding regarding His intentions, so He spelled them out for Moses and the children of Israel:
‘Therefore say to the children of Israel: ‘I am the LORD; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. I will take you as my people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. And I will bring you into the land which I swore to give Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; I will give it to you as a heritage: I am the LORD (Exodus 6:6-8).’”’
This was the purpose of their existence. God had chosen them to be His people, and He wanted them to ‘know that He was the LORD their God.’ He was going to plant them in the Land (Exodus 15:17; 2 Samuel 7:10).
Whilst on their way to the promised land, Moses and the people ran into all sorts of problems and difficulties and they were perplexed as to why? Why didn’t God make it easy for them? Moses became very disgruntled and He complained to the LORD: “Why have You afflicted Your servant? And why have I not found favour in Your sight, that You have laid the burden of all these people on me?”’ …….. “If You treat me like this, please kill me here and now – if I have found favour in your sight – and do not let me see my wretchedness (Numbers 11:11, 15)!”’
The people also moaned: “Why has the LORD brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?”’ Even Joshua complained: “Alas, Lord God, why have You brought this people over the Jordan at all – to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites, to destroy us? Oh, that we had been content, and dwelt on the other side of the Jordan (Joshua 7:7)!” They doubted God and questioned His motives, despite the fact He had made it clear what His purpose was (Exodus 6:6-8); thus giving them a raison d’être.
If God was for them (Romans 8:28), why were there so many difficulties?
Job was another complainant who was forever asking God why He treated him as He did: “Why did I not die at birth? Why did I not perish when I came from the womb? Why did the knees receive me? Or why the breasts, that I should nurse? For now I would have lain still and been quiet, I would have been asleep; then I would have been at rest (Job 3:11).”’ And:‘“Why then do You not pardon my transgression, and take away my iniquity? For now I will lie down in the dust, and You will seek me diligently, but I will no longer be (7:21).”’
What Job didn’t know was that God would bless him and provide him with more than he had before Satan’s persecution (1:6-2:9) of him: ‘Now the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning (42:12).’
Even Jeremiah questioned God and doubted He would protect him: ‘“Why is my pain perpetual and my wound incurable, which refuses to be healed? Will You surely be to me like an unreliable stream, as waters that fail (Jeremiah 15:18)?”’
New Testament “Why?” Questions
The story is different in the New Testament. None of the new testament saints doubted the motivations of Christ. Their “Why?” questions were all about improving their knowledge of why things were as they were: things like: ‘And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables (Matthew 13:10)?”’ And: “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first (17:10)?”’
Note that they never asked the LORD; it was always Jesus. He left them in no doubt that their existence was for Him, because He loved them and called them (John 15:16, 19) to be a people for Himself who would dwell in His land (14:2, 3; Acts 26:18), i.e., the New Earth (Revelation 21:1). He would be their King (Ephesians 5:5) and they would be His inheritance (Ephesians 1:18). They would live eternally with Him and the Father (John 3:16; Revelation 21:3).
‘Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, they shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God (Revelation 21:2, 3).’
This is why!
Praise the Lord and bless His name.