AN UNCHANGING GOD IN A CHANGING WORLD
A thrilling section of Old Testament scripture is found in Ecclesiastes 3. The chapter begins, "To every thing there is a season, a time to every purpose under the heaven." (Ecclesiastes 3:1) The chapter continues by showing the unending changes of this world. (Ecclesiastes 3:2-10); (b) We also observe the unending providence of God (Ecclesiastes 3:11-15), and (c) We note the unending vanity of living our life without the fear of God. (Ecclesiastes 3:16-22.) God oversees what goes on around the world. He is very involved in the world's affairs. God's plan for you is beautiful and simple. He wants you to have joy and to become more like Him. God expect you to try to the best of your ability to be more righteous and godly. We must learn that each time we make a poor choice painful consequences follow. Our wrong decision lead to misery, unhappiness and if not repented of they lead to eternal damnation. Likewise, choosing obedience to God eventually leads to happiness and helps you become more like our God, our Heavenly Father. Remember, "God shall judge the righteous and the wicked."
The unending changes of this world: (Ecclesiastes 3:1-10) This scripture shows us that we live in a changing world. Life changes from mountain peaks to the deepest valley and sometimes those changes come quickly. We can never be secure in this world. Life must be lived in humble dependence upon God and His providence; neither lifted up with hopes, nor cast down with fears, but with evenness of mind expecting every kind of event. The principle of change is laid down in Ecclesiastes 3. This chapter presents the seasons in a man's life. It does so by way of a series of contrasts. There are fourteen contrasts presented. These contrasts cover nearly every event of life. We observe: (1) Birth and death, (2) Planting and uprooting what was planted, (3) Killing and healing, (4) Tearing down and building up, (5) Crying and laughing, (6) Mourning and dancing, (7) Throwing stones and gathering stones, (8) Embracing and avoiding embraces, (9) Searching and losing, (10) Keeping and throwing away, (11) Tearing apart and sewing together, (12) Keep silent and speaking, (13) Love and hate, and (14) War and peace. Change and uncertainty are everywhere and that will always be a part of earthly life. Some of the changes of life are good while others are very difficult. After stating those 14 contrasts Solomon comes to a summarizing question. "Of what profit are all of these activities?" We ought to view those activities as being done in the service of the Lord. One major reason for wanting to go to heaven is that even the good things of this world do not last.
The unending providence of God: (Ecclesiastes 3:11-15) Since the world is so changeable, and we do not know what the next hour or next day will bring, we must fix our eyes on something or in this case someone who is unchangeable. God's providence is real! The providence of God is one of the greatest themes of the scriptures and one of the greatest blessings of our lives. Let us realize God's concern for us. Let us realize His availability to us. Let us love Him and live close to Him. He will never force us to allow Him a place in our lives, but He is accessible and ready to be the greatest blessing that man can have. He has "made everything beautiful in His time." There is a wonderful harmony in the divine working of God or in His providence. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28) Let us accept with joy the life which God sends our way and look forward, with great anticipation toward that which is beyond. "He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end. I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life. And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God. I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it; nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him. That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past. And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there." (Ecclesiastes 3:11-15) If we will allow it to happen God's work will bring about positive, eternal results in our lives. God is Eternal. His plans are long range in nature. He is building for eternity. When God wants to grow a squash, He does in a few weeks. When He grows an oak tree, He takes a few years. When He raises up a man, He takes a lifetime.
The unending vanity of living without the fear of God: (Ecclesiastes 3:16-22) Anything and everything in this world without God is vanity, Take away our relationship with God and nothing among man is of any value. To man's eye it may seem that man and animals are alike. We die just like the animals in that our body fails, we stop breathing and we die. Our bodies return to the dust. But our spirits are vastly different. God has placed eternity in our hearts so that we hold both the concept of eternal life as well as the desire to see beyond this life. This, of course, is not a visible difference between man and animals. Death is a farewell to this life. Let us, therefore, prepare for the life to come. "I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work. I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts. For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth? Wherefore I preceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should: rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him? (Ecclesiastes 3:16-22)
You should make the most of the time that you do have. Life is precious and it is short. Make the most of "now" as you prepare for eternity. To become a Christian you must hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus as the Christ (Mark 16:16), repent of all sins (Acts 17:30), confess Christ as Lord (Acts 8:37) and be baptized for remission of sins. (Acts 2:38) After baptism remain faithful to God. (Revelation 2:10) We often fall into the trap of thinking that things will make us happy. Material things do bring "temporary" happiness. But that happiness never lasts because wealth, power, beauty and fame never bring lasting happiness. True happiness comes from following Christ's example and developing Godlike attributes such as goodness, love, justice and mercy. True happiness comes from serving others and helping them to follow the example and teachings of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, 306 Walnut Street,
Greenville, Alabama 36037
Say what you mean, mean what you say, but don't say it mean.