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Ecclesiastes 3:11-15 1
11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him. 15 Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before; and God will call the past to account.

eyeofgodBackground 2

In earlier chapters and verses, Solomon has shown the vanity of studies, pleasures, and business, and made it to appear that happiness is not to be found in the schools of the learned, or in the gardens of Epicurus, then proceeds, in this chapter, to further prove his point:

  • That we should be cheerfully content with, and make use of, what God has given us.
  • The changeability of all human affairs, Eccl. 3:1-10.
  • The unchangeability of God’s divine advice concerning human affairs and our inability to search for more knowledge on God’s advice, Eccl. 3:11-15.
  • The vanity of worldly honor and power, which are used and abused for the support of oppression and persecution. In spite of the purpose of man’s justice, there is still wickedness, Eccl. 3:16.

For those who may be proud oppressors of others, and to point out their own vanity, Solomon reminds them:

  • That they will be called to account for it in the other world, Eccl. 3:17.
  • That their condition, in reference to this world is no better than that of the beasts, Eccl. 3:18-21. And therefore Solomon concludes that the purpose of our wisdom should be to make use of what power we have for our own comfort, and not to oppress others with it.

Biblical Truth 3

We have seen what changes there are in the world, and must not expect to find the world better for us than it has been to others. Now here Solomon shows the hand of God in all those changes; it is God that has made every creature to be what it is for us, and therefore we must have our eye always upon God.

  1. We must make the best of that which is, and must believe it best for the present, and accommodate ourselves to it. Then everything shall appear to have been done in the most proper time and it will be the wonder of eternity, Deut. 32:4; Ezek. 1:18.
  2. We must wait with patience for the full discovery of that which to us seems intricate and perplexed, acknowledging that we cannot find out the work that God makes from the beginning to the end, and therefore must judge nothing before the time.
  3. We must be pleased with our lot in this world, and cheerfully acquiesce in the will of God concerning us, and accommodate ourselves to it.
  4. We must be entirely satisfied in all the disposals of God’s divine Providence, both as to our personal and public concerns, and bring our minds to them, because God, in all, performs the thing that He has appointed for us, acts according to the counsel of His will.
  5. We must study to find God’s end in all his providences, which is in general to make us religious. God does all that men should fear before him, to convince them that there is a God above them that has a sovereign dominion over them, at whose disposal they are and all their ways, and in whose hands their times are and all events concerning them, and that therefore they ought to have their eyes ever towards Him, to worship and adore Him, to acknowledge Him in all their ways, to be careful in everything so as to please Him, and afraid of offending Him in anything.
  6. Whatever changes we see or feel in this world, we must acknowledge the inviolable steadiness of God’s government. The sun rises and sets, the moon increases and decreases, and yet both are where they were, and their revolutions are in the same method from the beginning according to the ordinances of heaven; so it is with the events of Providence (Eccl. 3:15): That which has been is now.

Items for Discussion

  • When you stare up at the universe, what conclusions do you draw?
  • Why is it so preposterous to conclude that humans are the highest form of intelligent life in the universe?
  • Read verse 15 – How would you summarize this verse?
  • Solomon seems to be saying that God’s Providence has been ordained from the beginnings of time, like the universe. What interpretation should we take away from these words?
  • So when there is something that is most troubling, what is Solomon telling us?

 

John 16:29-33 4
29 Then Jesus’ disciples said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. 30 Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.” 31 “Do you now believe?” Jesus replied. 32 “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. 33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Background

These verses probably could be called the “Good News-Bad News” verses. Good news, you will have joy. The bad news, you will suffer in this world. Keep in mind that as you read John’s gospel, he already lived with Jesus for about three years. John knew that Jesus was a real man. Also John had seen the miracles that Jesus did. John watched Jesus die on a cross. And John had also seen Jesus after he (Jesus) had become alive again. John knew that Jesus had defeated death. And John had seen Jesus rise up to heaven. So John knew that Jesus was a real man. But Jesus was and is also God’s Son. John is writing this story to prove this.

Biblical Truth 5

Jesus had used many “figures of speech” (parables) when he was talking to his disciples. At the time when he was speaking, they did not understand the meaning. But after his resurrection, and when the Holy Spirit came, they understood. Already, at this time, they were beginning to understand. They believed that Jesus knew everything. He knew what people were thinking. And he knew what they were like inside their hearts. They had seen that Jesus had God’s power in him. So they believed that he had come from God. But when the Holy Spirit came, their faith would really increase much, much more.

Jesus had warned them that he had to die. He had told them that they would feel grief but also told them that after a short period of time, they would see him again. Then they would be joyful. He knew that, in just a few hours, he would be arrested. His disciples would run away in fear. They would leave their master and would hide themselves. It would seem that he would have to suffer alone. But actually, he was not alone because the Father (God) was still with him.

That night, Jesus had talked to the disciples about many things. He had both warned them and encouraged them. He made his disciples some wonderful promises. Yes, they would have trouble, but they would only be alone for a short time. Then Jesus would return to them. Afterwards he would return to the Father, so that the Holy Spirit would live in them. The Holy Spirit would be with them always, wherever they went.

These wonderful promises are for all Christians. We will have troubles in this world, too. But Jesus has defeated the devil. And Jesus has defeated everything that is evil. He has defeated even death. We do not need to be afraid about anything. We can have this peace in our hearts always, no matter what happens to us.

Items for Discussion

  • We are told that all of the faithful will be joyful in this world too. Why?
  • Based on what John is sharing with us about Christ, what are the reasons we should believe we will have joy along with our hardships?
  • When severe hardships are upon us, what would you expect a Christian to do?
  • Many people attempt to avoid hardships: what are their distractions? Why is this a bad idea?
  • What should the goals of Christian fellowship be when faced with Joy? – With hardships?

Discussion Challenge

  • How does Solomon’s advice relate to Christ’s message here?
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