After seven years of fighting against the idea that God shut the door of heaven and ended His salvation program on the date of May 21, 2011, there has only arisen a handful of Scriptures that people can point to, in order to try and refute that Biblical teaching. One of the more often used ones is found in Ecclesiastes chapter 9:
Ecclesiastes 9:4 For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.
After quoting this verse it is immediately assumed that to be “joined to all the living” means to be physically alive on the earth. Thereby implying that the “living” are all those with beating hearts. Well, where did they get that definition from? The answer is they provided it themselves.
It's a natural definition that could have been taken right out of Webster's dictionary. Which is fine if you're reading any ordinary book written by men.
However, when it comes to the Bible, these type of hasty conclusions arrived at by such natural means demonstrate carelessness in handling the Word of God at the very least, and a failure to understand how one must interpret the Bible at worse.
A basic principle in Bible study is that we must compare spiritual things (Scripture) with spiritual things (Scripture) in order for God to define His own terms and in order for us to arrive at a proper Biblical definition for words found in the Bible.
ALL THE LIVING
When we do search the Bible for the word living, we find that it often identifies with God Himself:
1 Samuel 17:26 ... for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?
2 Kings 19:4 It may be the LORD thy God will hear all the words of Rab-shakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master hath sent to reproach the living God;
Psalm 42:2 My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God:
Jeremiah 10:10 But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king:
Daniel 6:26 I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, ...
Also in the New Testament:
John 6:57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.
Romans 9:26 ... there shall they be called the children of the living God.
Hebrews 12:22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
Also, the word “living” relates to those that God has quickened and brought to spiritual life:
Isaiah 38:19 The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day: the father to the children shall make known thy truth.
Matthew 22:32 I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.
These Scriptures show that the word “living” has application to God Himself. And in fact, once we search out the word “joined” we’ll see that it must be the “Living” God who’s in view.
The Hebrew word (Strong’s #977) translated as “joined” in Ecclesiastes 9:4 is used over 160 times in the Old Testament and yet, it is only translated as joined in this verse. According to the Word Search program I use this word is translated in the Bible as some form of the word ‘chosen’ 166 times. And it’s translated a handful of other ways one time each, including the word ‘joined’. Obviously, the overwhelming meaning of the word is “chosen”. Here’s some places where it’s translated that way:
Deuteronomy 7:6 For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.
Nehemiah 9:7 Thou art the LORD the God, who didst choose Abram, ...
Psalm 33:12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whomhe hath chosen for his own inheritance.
Psalm 65:4 Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts:
Psalm 132:13 For the LORD hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation.
Psalm 135:4 For the LORD hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure.
Isaiah 41:8 But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend.
9 Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away.
Isaiah 44:1 Yet now hear, O Jacob my servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen:
Of course, when we turn to the New Testament we know that the Greek words often translated as, “elect” or “election” (Strong’s #1588 & 1589) are also translated as “chose” or “chosen”:
Matthew 20:16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.
Acts 9:15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:
Romans 16:13 Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.
1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people;
Revelation 17:14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.
After looking up the Hebrew word (Strong’s #977) it is clear that it should have been translated as “chosen” in Ecclesiastes 9:4. And it is also clear that the “hope” in view for those “chosen to all Living” is exclusively the hope of God’s elect through God’s election program.
But, for all those NOT joined (chosen) together with the Living God from before the foundation of the world, there is no hope for salvation, whether it be today, or any previous time in the past.