Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3

This chapter of Ecclesiastes may be familiar to many people. It was the inspiration for Turn, Turn, Turn, a song by the Byrds that came out in 1965. Back then it was a chart-topping single. The words, however, are much more timeless. The lesson at the beginning of this chapter is that all things have a place. There is a time for joy as well as sorrow. There is a time for toil as well as rest. It is hard to find deeper meaning than that in life because everything has its own place. I am struggling with that now because I am in a place where my toil has very little meaning, yet it has a place for the moment. I must find that place.

9 What does the worker gain from his toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on men. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. 13 That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God. – Ecclesiastes 3:9-13

Even this toil is beautiful. I struggle to see that when I am in the midst of a job that I hate. I view it as a waste of time, but I am there because God has placed me there for the moment. Therefore, it cannot possibly be a waste of time. I am struggling to serve this time and make it better, but I feel far from the happiness in this toil that the author mentions here.

18 I also thought, "As for men, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. 19 Man's fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless. 20 All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. 21 Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?" – Ecclesiastes 3:18-21

We know from other promises in Scripture that we are more than animals. The author here breaks things down quite simply. Both man and animal are here for only a short time before returning to dust. We are unique, however, in that we have the capacity for joy in our time here. We are also children of God. We are promised to never be separated from Him if we trust in the sacrifice of His Son Jesus. God knows the Spirit of man, and knows its destinations. We are promised this numerous times in Scripture. This merely asks the hard questions that must be asked about a life without faith.

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