Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Ecclesiastes 8:9-17

Every one of us knows what it's like to say, 'It's not fair!' We're all born with a strong sense of injustice. You don't need to teach kids how to complain when they see others getting sweets and they don't have any! We hate it when bad things happen to good people and when good things happen to bad people. Isn't God supposed to be a god of justice? What's up with that?


Sometimes we just don't understand what God is doing. Good people so often get a raw deal in life and the truly evil people sometimes seem to get away with it. What's God playing at?

Solomon has been thinking about God as ultimate authority and judge and when he turns to observe people's lives, he sees a lot that's not what it should be. People exploit others and hurt them for their own gain (v9). People with secret sins receive praise from others (v10). And they seem to get away with it but then he also remembers that everyone dies (v10). Death is the ultimate leveller. People might well get away with things in this life but only for this life! Their lives will end. Solomon wants us to keep the eternal big picture in view. This will help us understand a little more about what God is doing.

Solomon sees...
- Slow justice (v11)
- Long life for the wicked (v12)
- The good get punished (v14)
- The wicked get good things (v14)

What do we do with this? Some would complain about the above and conclude that there can't be a 'God' at all because he would surely sort things out. But where do we think we get our strong sense of injustice from in the first place? We didn't learn it! Solomon's conclusion when he sees these things is to assume that God is doing something he doesn't understand. He assumes that God will always be doing things we don't understand and I think he's got a point! It's hard to imagine following a god we understand completely all the time. That would be no god at all.

The world seems to be a little bit like a playground at break time in a school. 'Playtime' doesn't last forever. In a playground there's lots of fun but also there will inevitably be bullying, people will fall over and hurt themselves and sometimes there'll be tears. People have freedom to do what they want with their 'playtime'. Sometimes the mealtime assistants will be able to step in and prevent someone from getting hurt but they won't stop everything. And in the end the bell rings and it's time for lessons. 'Playtime' is over and everyone has to start learning! Of course, the students that get the best out of school are the ones that never stop learning, even when it's playtime. The lessons they learn in the playground will help them when the bell goes.

God is ultimate judge. People do seem to get away with things and sometimes it feels like the good people get an unfair deal but we need to remember two things: Firstly, we're all evil when measured against God's perfect holiness and it's a wonder that we are allowed any 'playtime' at all! Secondly, God will ring the bell on our 'playtime' and everyone will face God's justice in the end. We should thank God for his mercy and forgiveness and ask him to help us to assume he's always doing things we don't understand because he's a massive God who loves us more than we can take in.