Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Wisdom Wednesday:Ecclesiastes Chapter 3-Turn, Turn, Turn
Welcome to Wisdom Wednesday and Chapter 3 in our series of the book of Ecclesiastes.
It was 1965 when The Byrds released their number one song, Turn, Turn, Turn. The song is an oldie but a goodie and I can’t help feeling nostalgic when I listen to that song. I wasn’t even born when the song was released. I was born four years later. The two versions of the song I remember most besides the original is one from CSI last season during an episode that had country star Taylor Swift. The other was a 1994-95, I believe, Christian release from a group called the 77’s.
However, the chorus and most of the words were written in a time much further back. The words are closer to 3,000 years old and are contained in the first eight verses of Chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes.
Solomon’s point in these first eight verses are the fact that everything happens sometime in our lives. The first point is that we are born and the last (as far as Earth goes) is to die. There’s a proper time for everything. The question becomes are we willing to do these things at the proper time. That point gets magnified when Solomon says in verse 11, “He (God) has made everything beautiful in its time.”
The second half of verse 11 takes us beyond life and to God’s plan beyond it. “He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Solomon tells us that God wants us to want eternity, so much so that he wants us thinking, talking and pondering it while we are here. The great part is that we can’t even imagine how great it’s going to be.
In verses 12-13, Solomon steps back then adds to the point that he made in Chapter 2 verse 24. He tells us again that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do go while they live. He also tells us that we can eat and drink and find satisfaction in our work. But the best part is that Solomon tells us that this is the gift of God. God wants obedience, but he also wants us to be joyous in the process.
We are told in Revelation 22:18-19 that if anyone adds or subtracts from the Bible, that they will be subtracted from the kingdom of heaven, but here in verse 14, Solomon speaks of how God will endure forever and that nothing that he does can be added to or subtracted from. You may think this could mean the same thing, but not quite. Changing the Word of God changes the story and changes what someone said. Changing God could change not only what he does, but the properties of who He is. The Bible is the inerrant word of God, but God is inerrant and perfect, even if he didn’t have the Word. Verse 15 tells us that God operates outside of time and that God knows what has happened and what will happen.
Verse 16 takes note of evil and wickedness on earth. Solomon tells us that where judgment and justice are supposed to be, there is also wickedness. Even in Solomon’s time, the court system and government were susceptible to injustice. People went crazy over the acquittal of OJ Simpson back in the 90’s after the deaths of his ex-wife and her friend. Truthfully, many have pronounced him guilty in their eyes. He may or may not be, it’s not my place to make a decision.
The beautiful part of what Solomon says in verse 17 is that either way, God will bring proper judgment. If he is innocent or guilty, God will take care of him. And all of us too.
Verses 18-21 take an interesting turn. Solomon tells us that God tests man to see if he is like an animal. God wants to see if we with dominion here on earth will act like the highest member of the food chain or not. Solomon starts in verse 19 though telling us that we die the same way as animals and that there is no advantage in our fate. We come from dust and will return to it after death. Same for the animals. He even questions if animals don’t raise like men. Pet owners are praying that this verse’s answer is that animals go to heaven too.
Verse 20 is the last verse, but it almost seems as Solomon falls into being depressed. This is the best there is, to enjoy our work. He leaves God out of the equation. This isn’t the best there is. Heaven waits because God can take us there.
Next week, Chapter 4 discusses oppression, comfort and advancement. Are they all meaningless too?
I love you guys!