The Scriptorium

Yes, but...

If God's in charge, why is everything such a mess? Ecclesiastes 3.16, 17

Ecclesiastes 3 (5)

Pray Psalm 147.19, 20.
He declares His word to Jacob,
His statutes and His judgments to Israel.
He has not dealt thus with any nation;
And as for His judgments, they have not known them.

Read Ecclesiastes 3.16, 17.

Prepare.
1. What did Solomon observe happening “under the sun”? Is that still happening today?

2. Is God indifferent to this situation?

Meditate.
If it is the case that God is in the details – the patterns and routines of life – then why do we find wickedness where it ought not be?

Solomon does not deny that things aren’t what they’re supposed to be. This is a function of people living “under the sun” and apart from faith in God – as Solomon did for many years. But God takes note of those who transgress His purposes. His judgment will come in His way and time. Even wickedness, therefore, has its place “under heaven”, because it provides a foil against which the justice and might of God can be displayed.

So, Solomon says, don’t be surprised when you see wickedness having its season. The wicked may think they’re “getting away with it”, but God sees, and God will respond with judgment in His own good time (cf. Ps. 10).

The ongoing presence of wickedness in the world simply testifies to the reality and effects of mankind’s fall into sin. People know they have been made for God, but they rebel against Him, preferring their own way of life rather than His (Rom. 1.18-32). God gradually gives up sinners to their own wickedness, all the while striving by His Spirit (Gen. 6.3) to woo them back to Him.

People who choose to live in sin, knowing in their hearts that God has made them for good works (Rom. 2.14, 15), consign themselves to judgment, both in this life and in the life to come. The righteous understand the judgment of God and, looking in faith to Him, eschew everything that does not comport with His will, and seek to do that which they know will please and honor Him (cf. Eccl. 3.12).

Reflect.
1. According to Romans 1.18-32, what forms does the judgment of God take at this time?

2. Does the presence of wickedness and evil in places where justice and righteousness should be mean that God is not sovereign? Explain.

3. We know that the judgment of God both is now, and is coming. What place should this have in our presentation of the Gospel?

Then there will be no person of our times who will be able at that judgment to find an excuse for unbelief when everyone shall call on Christ… Augustine (354-430), Letter 232

Thank You, Lord, for delivering me from judgment and wrath. Help to live and serve You today, so that others…

Pray Psalm 147.14-20.
Pray for the world, for all who ignore God’s Word and are thus subject to His judgment. Pray for lost people you know, and whom you might see today.

Sing Psalm 147.14-20.
Psalm 147.14-20 (St. Ann: Our God, Our Help in Ages Past)
Around us He has spread His peace; our borders are secure.
His bounty daily shall increase; His grace to us is sure!

His Word to earth runs to and fro to carry out His will;
He brings the rain, He sends the snow, and none can keep Him still.

His Word He to His Church bestows – His promises and Law.
No other nation God thus knows: praise Him with songs of awe!

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.

You can download all the studies in this series on Ecclesiastes by clicking here. If you value Scriptorium as a free resource for your walk with the Lord, please consider supporting our work with your gifts and offerings. You can contribute to The Fellowship by clicking the Contribute button  at the website or by sending your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from
The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

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.