Ecclesiastes and Vanity of Life, Part 13
9 What benefit can a worker gain from his toil?
10 I have observed the burden that God has given to people to keep them occupied.
11 God has made everything fit beautifully in its appropriate time, but he has also placed ignorance in the human heart so that people cannot discover what God has ordained, from the beginning to the end of their lives (Ecclesiastes 3:9-11)
Whether it’s birth, death, work, fun, whatever it is all has a specific time. The overall point of Solomon’s teaching is that God is sovereign. He is in control and exercises that control over His Creation whether we think so or not. We would do well to understand it, embrace it, and appreciate it. Most of the time, we don’t and that is to our detriment.
It it difficult to appreciate the fact that we are always only one breath away from death. It is that close to us, yet we live our lives as if we had years or decades though our deaths could occur at any point in time. How about you? Have you – do you – consider this truth?
After presenting the truth that everything under the sun has a specific time, Solomon goes on to ask a question that, like numerous other questions he has asked, he will also answer. The question is how does any worker benefit from all his work?
In fact, this section highlighted above in verses 9 through 11 ask and answer the question beautifully. Are we ready to listen?
In many ways this life is burdensome. It is so because humanity strayed from God’s originally ordained path and plan for earth. The idyllic life that Adam and Eve enjoyed as caretakers of the Garden of Eden (for however long it was) is so different and foreign from our way of life today that it is next to impossible for us to truly grasp that difference.
Since the fall, not only humanity, but all of Creation “groans” as it waits for the release that will only come from God in His time and in His way (Romans 8:22). We know this is fact because we experience the problems of this life on a daily basis. It’s as if the Creation is actually groaning. It is in pain. The plant kingdom, the animal kingdom, man’s kingdom; everything is dying and the only hope is the release that will come through God’s new Creation (Revelation 21). But that is a ways off yet.
In essence, what we are doing in the meantime is being occupied. We have things to do and we need to understand their importance (or not) so that we can focus on the things that are actually important. If we can understand the importance of them and gain a correct focus, we will be able to benefit from all our work.
Notice in verse 11, Solomon tells us that even though God has ordered all of His Creation, the ignorance of the human heart is so appalling that it is difficult to discover just exactly what God has ordained “from the beginning to the end of their lives.”
Certainly, we are in a much better position than was Solomon because all of God’s Word provides the missing knowledge. In the end though, Solomon is still 100% correct. We are born into a dying world as beings who are also affected by death from the very moment we are born. The ravages of sin take its toll on us daily. We are born in sin (Psalm 51:5; Romans 3:23; 5:12; 5:19; 1 John 1:10, etc.), and we cannot fully escape it in this life. We are born to die now (unlike Adam and Eve originally), and all problems we face in this life confirm the existence of sin by the effect it has on people and this globe.
Solomon is trying to tell us is we need to understand that from the Fall to our final future redemption, there is a huge parenthesis. We wait. We bide our time. We live and we die. One day, God will destroy this world and the heavens surrounding it and will create new ones (Revelation 21). Those new ones will effectively place us in an environment that knows no sin, just like the days of the Garden of Eden (however long they lasted). Once sin entered into this world at the invitation of Eve and Adam, this world was forever changed and God’s countdown to the new heavens and new earth began.
What God is doing now is saving as many people as will come to Him for salvation, out of this world. This is why we remain here as Christians after we are saved. Our job is to explain the gospel message to as many people as possible so that they can choose whether or not they will receive this salvation that God offers.
Christians are really missionaries wherever they live and work! People need to not only hear the gospel but they need to see it in the life of a Christian as well. It’s not merely people in India, Africa, or some other area of the world who need to see the reality of the gospel message as lived out in a Christian’s life. Everyone needs to see it, even in Fortune 500 companies or fast food restaurants here in America. God wants to reach those people through you and me. Today is the day of salvation.
There will come a time when salvation will no longer be preached because all who enter into that coming new Creation will already be saved. That is the closed end of the parentheses. The open end starts with the fall and the closed end starts with the new Creation.
This is why Solomon says what he says in verse 11. By and large, people are way too ignorant about God’s purposes. Too often you hear people say, “God put me here for a purpose!” as they attempt to win the singing contest in order to be signed by some record producer. The same applies to acting or any of the arts.
I’m not saying those things are wrong, but God has given people gifts of creativity for His purposes, not to become the next pop singing sensation. We need to seriously understand that our life once saved is no longer our own. The main task of each and every Christian is to glorify God and we do that by taking seriously the command of Jesus regarding the Great Commission. Everything else either supports that or it doesn’t.
I believe that this is what God has ordained for all human beings…for now. This should be the main emphasis in our life. But too often we hear Christians talk about increasing “their” ministry, making themselves more well-known, or something like that. Because of the fall, this life should be filled with witnessing to the lost. Once we die, our job here is done and we enter into a new phase, the phase that God ordained for us and actually intended that Eve and Adam would walk in forever. They blew it and so do we. The plan went from being fruitful, multiplying, and exercising authority over everything in God’s Creation, to fulfilling the Great Commission. That can oly happen as we submit to Him.
So wherever you find yourself in life, learn to be content. God has given you gifts, yes, but the most important thing you can do is witness to the lost, whether you use those particular gifts He gave you or not.
The most important thing Christians can realize is that life is not only temporary but death is forever. Our job while here is to understand that there is nothing better than to be obedient to the Great Commission. We will have all of eternity to use the gifts and talents God gave us in a world in which sin will be completely foreign.
If the gifts He’s given us can aid us in witnessing to the lost, great. If not, we still need to be diligent in evangelization. Let’s throw off the ignorance and understand God’s purposes for us here and now.
Entry filed under: christianity, eternity, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: all is vanity, ecclesiastes, life under the sun, utter futility.