Dr. Ed Young - No Guarantees in Life
We're studying a book of sheer philosophy. Somebody would say, "Well, I came here to study the Bible and you mean to tell me we're going to study a book that contains sheer philosophy"? Absolutely, there's nothing more confusing than to have a lot of answers without any questions. The Book of Ecclesiastes asks the questions the rest of the Bible answers. The Book of Ecclesiastes, we need to remember, is the only book in the canon that pictures life without God. Solomon, in his twilight years writes his autobiography and we see how far he has declined from his early years as king of Israel.
You remember he built a temple. You remember in a dream he asks God for wisdom. You remember how he started off with humility, a worshiper, someone who obeyed and sought to please the living God. But something happened to him. So, he writes the end of life, this thing about philosophy. And he tell us the thesis of the book with two giant parenthesis. Chapter 1 of Ecclesiastes verse 2 he says about life, "Vanity of vanity, all is vanity". That's really a poor translation. It should say, "Meaninglessness and meaninglessnesses, all is meaningless".
When you see a singular attached to a plural, you have a superlative. In other words, Lord of lords would say there's no lord above this Lord. Servant of servants, you have no servant superior to this servant. Holy of holies, there's no place more holy than this place. And see, we have meaninglessness and meaninglessnesses. In other words, life is a void. Life is smoke. Life has no rhyme, no reason, has no significance, no value and therefore Solomon said, "You don't have any purpose in your life". He says this in chapter 1, verse 2 and all the way to end of Ecclesiastes chapter 12, verse 8 he repeats the very same phrase.
So, there is a parenthesis saying life doesn't make sense and you can't make sense of life. Well, I'm sure that made your day. But we proceed how Solomon developed this and we understand that in this book of sheer philosophy, he forces us to answer the big questions of life that the rest of the Bible clearly answers.
I want you to pretend with me for a minute that you got a call from your banker say last Thursday afternoon about 4 o'clock and you pick up the phone and your banker says, "I've got good news for you. Someone who loves you very much is gonna to deposit in your account 86,400 pennies every day". Quick math, $846 a day, and that's good. Quick math, about $315,000 a year, that's real good. "And that's gonna be the deposited in my account every day"? "Yes". The banker says, "There's one catch to this, this person who loves you very much says you must spend all of that amount every day. Any that you do not spend, goes back to the bank". It didn't take you long to figure out, "I think I can spend $846 a day. I'll have no trouble doing that".
Now, let's get serious. That was pretend. The truth is that someone who loves you and loves me very much deposits every day in our bank of time 86,400 seconds. Now, the interesting thing about this deposit of time in your life and in my life is that we can't accumulate it. We can't say, "I'm not gonna use this time today. I'm gonna save it for another moment". Time is like a coin when you spend it, you can't recall it. You can't get it back. So, how we use that gift that God gives us who loves us very much is exceedingly important. Time.
By the way, what is time? You get a lot of squirrely definitions to that. A simple one, I think, it is a measurement of a period. That's time. Time is something that man has created. We create it where that great timepiece that we find in the heavens, the planets, the sun, the moon, we want to check the true and accurate time we can look to that and see exactly what time it is. But when all the planet cease and the moon and the stars go away, there is no more time and we move into timelessness.
Some of us remember the gospel song it has a little phrase in it, "And time shall be no more". When we leave this planet and move into eternity, there's no more time. We move from the finite to the infinite. We move from this earth into the heavens. And therefore we, in this life, are interested in time and we want to maximize the time that we have on this earth. And we use this element, this word "time" all the time. "Do we have time to do that? It's time to go". Time and timing is very important. There's a time to buy stock and there's a time to sell stock, not that I do either one.
Years ago, I had a little bit of money, couple of thousand dollars and I bought high and sold low. I never again went to the Las Vegas that's called the market. So, time is everything. When your company is in trouble, don't go to your boss and say, "I need a raise". Poor timing. There's a time that we invest. There's a time that we use and time involves timing. It means everything. We're sick and we don't go to the doctor. If we'd gone, we'd got a diagnosis, we'd got well a lot sooner.
You see, time and timing and this whole section, whole section of Ecclesiastes about time, this third chapter. We've already looked at the first chapter, if you've missed that, Ecclesiastes starts off with great pessimism and he says, "Everything repeats itself. Life is circular, thesis, antithesis, synthesis, thesis, antithesis, synthesis, everything just repeats itself". And in chapter 2 Solomon says, "Well, time and life is meaninglessness. It has no meaning but," he says, "I've tried everything". How many people who've ever lived could stand up and say, "I've tried everything you could try to make sense out of life"?
Not many people have the capacity or the ability to do that but Solomon did and finally he comes to the same conclusion. He came to 35 different times in the Book of Ecclesiastes life makes no sense. It is without meaning. It is without significance. It's without value. Chapter 1, chapter 2, now we come to chapter 3 and here he begins with this interesting, interesting verse, verse 1, he says, "There's an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under the sun". He brings us back to time and timeliness and then through verse 8, he gives us a philosophy of time, T-I-M-E.
Now understand something, Solomon is looking at this world from a fat land perspective. He's looking at this world only under the sun. He's looking at this world only to sense what you can see, and feel, and touch, and understand. He's looking at a flat world. In his survey, he doesn't look above the sun. Ladies and gentlemen, live out your life under the sun with no sense of a transcendent God and I'll tell you, you'll come up, sooner or later according to capacity, to the same conclusion that Solomon had, there's no meaning. There's no value. It doesn't last. You're just a pebble on the seashore of history.
But then he gives us the verses that we all remember and he has these 14 couplets of contrast. Time to be born, a time to die, a time to speak, a time to be silent. Boy, I wish I knew when to speak, when to be silent. But there's all these seasons and he takes us through these 14 different couplets. The first four if you look at them, they deal with a body. The next four deal with a soul. The last six deal with a spirit. Listen to them, it's a philosophy of time.
He said there's, "A time to give birth, a time to die; A time to plant, a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill, a time to heal; A time to tear down, a time to build up. A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing. A time to search and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; A time to be silent, a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate; A time for war and a time for peace".
We're familiar with those words, that's the most familiar passage in all of the Book of Ecclesiastes and he's saying how important it is time, and timing and even now Solomon begins to get some sense. Look what he says in verse 11. He says, "He has made," he's talking about God now. "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He's also said eternity in their heart". Verse 12 he says, "I know that there's nothing better for to us do than to rejoice". In verse 13 he says, "It is a gift of God". Verse 14 he says, "Fear him," that means to worship him.
So now, Solomon, who's been so pessimistic, sort of looks a little bit about God and is not a clear understanding of God. Somehow he had compromised everything. He had sort of a God that was a hybrid God, not Jehovah, not Yahweh, not Elohim. He had lost that. How'd he lose it? I think all the woman he married, oh yeah, because they brought their pagan religions into the land. They built altars on top of all those hills and Solomon, in order to keep them happy, would go up and worship them, all the gods and goddesses and therefore he gradually moved away from generally worshiping the true and living God.
That's when somebody says, "Well, at least they worship Allah God". No, Allah is a million miles from the God we know in Jesus Christ, make no mistake about it. And that's exactly what these gods are even with Solomon. He just went away. He moved away, not consciously or rationally. When I was a freshman, University of Alabama, my first Sunday I went to Sunday school in church as a freshman. I'd done it all my life, that's what I did. The next Sunday, you know, I was tired, I had a hard week and I just went to church.
The next Sunday, you know, I went to church but I got there late just in time for them singing the invitational hymn, "Just As I Am". Next Sunday I didn't go. Next Sunday I didn't go. The third Sunday I felt guilty and I went just to church, and then I just quit going to church. That's what happens, isn't it? Just sort of gradually we move out, we move away and that's what happened to Solomon. He picked up all these other gods and goddesses, began to worship, trying to please all these wives to keep international relations intact.
All of a sudden, he'd wondered away from the true and living God but now he sees life is without meaning, but there is little hope because a semblance of the true God just kind of reaches down from heaven and he said, "I want you to know even though life's without meaning, boy, there's beauty in life. And I want you to know that life is a gift of God. And I want you to know we are to fear him, and that means we are to worship him". Remember human beings are the only animals that worship God. I love my dog Winston but food, affection, and play, that's as far as he goes. He has no semblance of worship. He has no semblance of death. He just food, play, affection, that's it.
You see, we are distinctive as human beings. We're made in the image of God and somehow Solomon had lost and blurred that image out but he has little glimpses here of a life that has meaning and he shares all this with us. You can look at it. He talks about, "I know, I know". You see in verse 13, I know, verse 14, "I know". Verse 10 he says, "I have seen". He says in verse 16, "I have seen". In 17 he says, "I said to myself". Eighteen he said, "I said to myself". Twenty-two he says, "I have seen". What's he doing? He is saying, "Here's all of the philosophy of time, a time for this, a time for that," and he says, "that's the sovereignty of God".
In other words, this is how God operates life in this world under the sun but then he has little glimpses that God's a part of this. Everything's beautiful in its own way. And then that tremendous verse, "God has planted eternity in our hearts". Everybody here, whoever you are, God has planted eternity in your heart, and Solomon sees that until finally he comes to the end of the chapter and he asks a question and it's such an important question. He says the last phrase, he said, "I have seen that nothing is better than that man should be happy in his activities, for that is his lot".
Here's the question, "For who will bring him to see what will occur after him"? In other words, after all is said and done and we leave this life, who knows what will happen after that? Big question, is it not, ladies and gentlemen? Big, big question. Zack Parrish, brought up in our church, tremendous teenager, parents sold out to Christ, finished school, went to college, got married, had two little girls, was a banker in Denver, Colorado. Didn't like banking. He felt he was called to make a difference in law enforcement. He went and trained and became a policeman on the staff of the police department there in Denver, Colorado.
And it was on December the 31 I got a call early in the morning that broke my heart. Zack had been killed while investigating what was supposedly a domestic violence call with his team of policemen, but it was a setup. They were ambushed. The call came there through tears, my tears were added to it, that Zack had been killed. I talked to mother and dad as they were driving up there. They were devastated. They had his funeral, which was put online all across America. You probably read it in the newspaper about it. It went online around the world.
In that funeral, they gave a clear witness of what a tremendous Christian this young police officer was, what a dynamic life, and they explained how the gospel says to be absent from the body here is to be present with the Lord there. And it came through tears, and celebration, and a presentation to the gospel. Present in that funeral service was an atheist who had a room above the little apartment where Zack had been killed and he said, "As an atheist, I went just sort of out of respect". And he said, "But in that service, I understood," he said, "for the first time, that there is a God, that he loves us, that his Son died so I may be forgiven and have new life". And he became a glorious born-again Christian in a memorial service for Zack.
More than that, his mother, who is on my team, his mother and dad said they received hundreds of all kind, emails, correspondence from people all over America and all around the world that observed that funeral and said they understood what it means to really live with Jesus Christ. So, they said, you know, this is their words, "Jesus Christ gave his only Son. Everybody thought the devil had won, evil had conquered on the cross, but he took the cross and evil and turned it into the power for salvation for the world, but it cost him his only Son". And they said, "This has cost us our only son Zack, and it was done absolutely by evil people with evil intentions". But he said, "If that's what it takes for these dozens, hundreds that come to know Jesus Christ, I understand it". That's from his parents.
Now, I want you to notice something, the 11th verse in this chapter it talks about what has will be again. It says simply, God does not leave anything unfinished. If a life is shortened, there'll be a time in which that time will be fulfilled in heaven. Anything that's broken here, he will heal there. The Garden of Eden will come back into existence, there'll be a new heaven and a new earth. And by the way, what is science? Science is simply memories of the past, write that down. Science is memories of the past.
You say, "Well, I don't understand that". Geology is simply a memory of the earth. Astronomy is simply a memory of the universe. History is simply a memory of the human race. Everything ever that has taken place is written down on heaven, on earth, in the mind and heart of God, and it will all be restored fully and completely in that way when God comes and revisits earth in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. God doesn't have any unfinished symphonies. He doesn't have anything that started and didn't seek it all the way into completion. He completes all this and I'll tell you the brevity of Zack's life will be totally completed and it will all go.
And the moral here is we use our platform because whatever happens, let's answer this question, "Well, who knows," asks Solomon, "what's gonna happen in all of this"? I'm gonna give you the answer to that the Apostle Paul gave and God gives us in the latter part of Romans chapter 8, and Romans 8 undoubtedly is one of the greatest books in all the Bible. Let me give you an answer to that. He says, "What then shall we say to these things? If God is with us, who or what can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will separate us from the love of Christ"?
That's the question he asks. "Will tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or sword? Just as it is written, For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered. But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord".