3:11 He has made everything beautiful in its time.
Anomaly #1 – There is Injustice in the Halls of Justice
NAU Ecclesiastes 3:16 Furthermore, I have seen under the sun that in the place of justice there is wickedness and in the place of righteousness there is wickedness. 17 I said to myself, "God will judge both the righteous man and the wicked man," for a time for every matter and for every deed is there. 18 I said to myself concerning the sons of men, "God has surely tested them in order for them to see that they are but beasts." 19 For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity. 20 All go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust. 21 Who knows that the breath of man ascends upward and the breath of the beast descends downward to the earth? 22 I have seen that nothing is better than that man should be happy in his activities, for that is his lot. For who will bring him to see what will occur after him?
1) Injustice in the halls of justice
A) Amongst the children of God
B) Where the message has been shared
C) Where God has been acknowledges
a. God will vindicate the righteous
b. God has included injustice to show the beast like nature of humankind
i. He wants to create dependence on him!
c. God wants to drive us toward finding true ‘happiness’ in him (JOY)
3) What to do - “The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it” William James
Anomaly #2 – The World is full with oppression, rivalry, isolation and transitory popularity
1) Power people are the oppressors
NAU Ecclesiastes 4:1 Then I looked again at all the acts of oppression which were being done under the sun. And behold I saw the tears of the oppressed and that they had no one to comfort them; and on the side of their oppressors was power, but they had no one to comfort them. 2 So I congratulated the dead who are already dead more than the living who are still living. 3 But better off than both of them is the one who has never existed, who has never seen the evil activity that is done under the sun.
i. Better to be dead than live as an oppressed
ii. It is even better to never have been conceived than dead
** A reminder to the powerful to lay off.. see the horror of their deeds
2) Advancement in this world is driven by rivalry
4 I have seen that every labour and every skill which is done is the result of rivalry between a man and his neighbour. This too is vanity and striving after wind. 5 The fool folds his hands and consumes his own flesh. 6 One hand full of rest is better than two fists full of labour and striving after wind.
i. The observation: advancement and achievement over one’s neighbour
ii. Solution: (wrong answer) be a fool and do nothing
iii. Solution: (right answer) it is better to settle for a little less in a spirit of tranquility than to gained a lot through toil and rivalry.
3) There are those who have it all but can’t quit and find themselves isolated and alienated!
7 Then I looked again at vanity under the sun. 8 There was a certain man without a dependent, having neither a son nor a brother, yet there was no end to all his labour. Indeed, his eyes were not satisfied with riches and he never asked, "And for whom am I labouring and depriving myself of pleasure?" This too is vanity and it is a grievous task. 9 Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labour. 10 For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. 11 Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? 12 And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.
i) Observation: A man alone, never ceasing to work and never stopping to think about why or for whom he is labouring! (7-8)
ii) Solution: develop relationships with others for times when a person needs help, warmth, or protection
a. ** Premise two are better than one (9)
b. If one fail the other can help (10)
c. Two can keep each other warm (11)
d. Two or three can overpower an attacker (12)
Remember to count the cost if you want to stand on the peak of your own pyramid!!
4) The fleeting popularity if fame and power (4:13-16)
13 A poor yet wise lad is better than an old and foolish king who no longer knows how to receive instruction. 14 For he has come out of prison to become king, even though he was born poor in his kingdom. 15 I have seen all the living under the sun throng to the side of the second lad who replaces him. 16 There is no end to all the people, to all who were before them, and even the ones who will come later will not be happy with him, for this too is vanity and striving after wind.
i) Solution / lesson first… the basic idea… fans are fickle
ii. Solution - it is better to be a poor and wise youth than an old and rich king
iii. Position and prestige are not worthy pursuits… fans will desert for the next option
iv. Observation – the people followed the king’s successor (even though from humble and questionable background) and eventually deserted him for an upstart – (15-16)
Since the fans are fickle… its is better to be poor and wise than rich and foolish!
Two tracks of discussion:
First: all these scenarios seem to be anomalies to a world where “everything is beautiful in its time” under the controlling hand of God
Lesson: take God at his Word, and through the lens of faith, ask the questions, but hear him say trust me!
Second: Each scenario has a lesson to learn:
· power people – beware of abuse
· the climb to the top is rivalous – better to be content with less
· relationships are more profitable than unending toil for wealth
· vale and worth do not come from fame – the fans are fickle!