Monday, 12 November 2007

Ecclesiastes 3:9-22

Steve Curtis Chapman sings a song called 'More to this Life' and in the chorus it says:

But there's more to this life than living and dying,
More than just trying to make it through the day;
More to this life, more than these eyes alone can see,
And there's more than this life alone can be


There's several key phrases that should leap out at us from today's passage I think. They're about God's relationship with his world - that's us! Everything's at stake if we miss out on the truth here...

'I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race' (v10). What burden? I'm sure you and I could think of many stories of real suffering that you've seen, heard of or experienced yourself - Of real burdens that people bear. Solomon sums all this up (risky!) by saying that the ultimate burden is that God has placed us in 'time' but also put 'eternity in our hearts' (v11). This means that we know that there must be something better. There must be something wrong with this present world in which we live. More than that - There must be something wrong with you and with me because we know deep down that it should be better than this! We should be better than this! We're not just random creatures - We were made for something better - for something eternal! The problem is, no-one can figure out what it is because we're trapped in temporary time at the moment and as Solomon rightly points out, 'No-one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end' (v11). Only God can show us the truth about eternity.

'God will call the past to account' (v15). This should be a sobering thought. There will be a day when each of us will be answerable to God for our lives. Time is temporary. That means it won't go on forever! And what then? Solomon says God will hold us accountable for the time we've had. Crikey!

'In the place of judgement - wickedness... In the place of justice - wickedness' (v16). Why crikey? This is why! Solomon observes what we've all seen if we're honest. We know that people do what they shouldn't and they don't do what they know they should. And we know we're the same. And the real worry (if we realise what Solomon has) is if God is going to call the past to account, what's he going to say and do about your wickedness and mine? Yikes!

'Who can bring them to see what will happen after them?' (v22). So most people end up doing what Solomon describes in verses 18-21 - They say 'Who can know if we're any different from the animals? We'll probably just rot in the ground and that'll be the end of it'. The problem with this is that we all still have this burden where we hate suffering in this life. Why do we hate it so much unless there were something more? Why do we think we know any better? If there's no God and we're all random products of the evolutionary process, why do we care so much when supposedly random events of suffering hit us? The reason we care, the reason we hate suffering so much is because we have this burden - a sense of something more. God has placed eternity in our hearts!

The question Solomon ends on does have an answer - God! God knows what will happen. There's a reason he's set eternity in our hearts. It's because he wants us to cry out to him for forgiveness and help. He wants us to be in a trusting and dependent relationship with him. It won't always be like this, but while it is - let's pray! Let's talk to God. Let's trust him and cry out to him and let's long for the God who has set eternity in our hearts. He's given himself to us so that we should give ourselves to him.

A prayer - Thank you, Lord that...
...there's more to this life than living and dying,
More than just trying to make it through the day;
More to this life, more than these eyes alone can see,
And there's more than this life alone can be

Amen!