The Scriptorium

Patterns in Eternity

It's not boring, it's providence. Ecclesiastes 3.14, 15

Ecclesiastes 3 (4)

Pray Psalm 147.12-14.
Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem!
Praise your God, O Zion!
For He has strengthened the bars of your gates;
He has blessed your children within you.
He makes peace in your borders,
And fills you with the finest wheat.

Read Ecclesiastes 3.14, 15.

Prepare.
1. How does God encourage us to fear Him? Why?

2. How should we think about the patterns and routines of our lives?

Meditate.

Here is the capstone of Solomon’s theme: God’s work is perfect and eternal. His purposes and plans are unalterable, and no one can keep Him from fulfilling what He intends to do.

Thus, if we can learn to rest in God’s purposes, receive His gifts, and take up our work according to His plan, we can do good and serve the purposes of eternity.

The fear of the Lord is integral in this, for by it we acknowledge His might and accept our place of humility in His sight. This is the only way to make sense out of life and to live in a purposeful and joyful manner. As Solomon previously declared in 1.1-11, the patterns and repetitions of life can lead to disillusionment and despair. Here, however, he insists that God orders our lives by such patterns and repetitions (The ESV marginal, “what has been pursued” is to be preferred at the end of v. 15).

Life does not have to be meaningless or monotonous, even though it’s filled with a lot of the same-old-same-old. God uses the routines and patterns of life and the cosmos to accomplish His eternal purposes. They who fear and look to Him understand this, and find joy, pleasure, and satisfaction in trusting in the Lord.

Think of the many patterns and routines that characterize the world and our lives in it. Get up and go to work, eat three meals a day, watch the news, time with the kids; meanwhile, the earth keeps turning, the weather comes and goes, the vast cosmos expands. God is in all these patterns, and He is able to bring glory to Himself in them all (Ps. 19.1-6; 1 Cor. 10.31). The Word of God upholds the universe and everything in it (Heb. 1.3), pursuing patterns and ways that are so regular and reliable that people have come to regard them as “laws”.

But what we who trust in the Lord experience in such patterns, and what we acknowledge, is the steadfast love of the Lord and His faithfulness in doing all things according to His good pleasure in their unique times and seasons (Ps. 136).

Reflect.
1. Why is it beneficial to know that God rules all the patterns and routines of life?

2. The laws of physics and the cosmos are really only descriptions of the faithful and wise work of God. Explain.

3. What does it mean to fear God? Why does God insist that we should fear Him? How does fearing the Lord benefit us?

God has made creation so that human beings, through an outward picture of the greatness and beauty of created things, might [understand] that God exists. He himself manages the cosmos and looks after it so that we—while the whole cosmos is orderly guided by one commander and provider and ruler and charioteer and king—get the outward picture that there is someone who rules the cosmos. Didymus the Blind, (313-398), Commentary on Ecclesiastes 88.29

Thank You, Lord, for the evidence of Your faithfulness on every hand. Help me to acknowledge your faithfulness as I…

Pray Psalm 147.1-14.
Praise God for the patterns and routines mentioned in these verses, and for any others that He brings to mind.

Sing Psalm 147.1-14.
Psalm 147.1-14 (St. Ann: Our God, Our Help in Ages Past)
Praise God, for it is good to sing loud praises to the Lord!
With joy our songs of praise we bring to God and to His Word.

The Lord builds up His Church and He His people gathers in.
The broken hearts He tenderly repairs and heals their sin.

The stars He counts, He knows the name of every chosen soul;
His pow’r is great, and great His fame Who understands us whole.

The humble God exalts above; the wicked He casts down.
Sing thanks to this great God of love; let songs of praise abound.

He brings refreshing rain to earth and feeds the beasts so dear.
He puts in man’s strength naught of worth, but loves those who God fear.

O praise your God, Jerusalem, O Zion, praise the Lord!
He strengthens those who trust in Him with blessings from His Word.

Around us He has spread His peace; our borders are secure.
His bounty daily shall increase; His grace to us is sure!

T. M. Moore

Where does the book of Ecclesiastes fit in the overall flow of Scripture? Our series of studies, God’s Covenant, can show you, and help you discover the great beauty of the unity and diversity of Scripture, and how it all points to Christ. To order your copy of this important workbook, click here.

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T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.