Thursday, April 11, 2024

Forgotten In This Life, But Not In The Next

There's a passage in Ecclesiastes about a man who saved a city, but was forgotten:

"Also this I came to see as wisdom under the sun, and it impressed me. There was a small city with few men in it and a great king came to it, surrounded it and constructed large siegeworks against it. But there was found in it a poor wise man and he delivered the city by his wisdom. Yet no one remembered that poor man. So I said, 'Wisdom is better than strength.' But the wisdom of the poor man is despised and his words are not heeded. The words of the wise heard in quietness are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good." (9:13-18)

Augustine made a somewhat similar observation:

"From the blessing of the two sons of Noah, and the cursing of the middle son, down to Abraham, or for more than a thousand years, there is, as I have said, no mention of any righteous persons who worshipped God. I do not therefore conclude that there were none; but it had been tedious to mention every one, and would have displayed historical accuracy rather than prophetic foresight." (The City Of God, 16:2)

A lot of other examples could be cited. Most of what we have in modern Bibles (and other modern editions of ancient documents) is based on manuscripts produced by unknown individuals. Much of the patristic literature comes from unknown sources (The Didache, The Epistle Of Barnabas, The Letter To Diognetus, The Apostolic Constitutions, etc.). And so on.

I think this is part of how we'll see the fulfillment of Jesus' comments on how the first will be last and the last will be first (Matthew 19:30). The forgotten in this life won't be forgotten in the next life. It's another reason to not have much concern about your social status in this life.

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