Time and Chance Happen to All – Ecc 9:11-10:11

It should be obvious to everyone that we do not live in a perfect world. The reason, of course, for our world’s imperfection is man’s sin. But this does not stop us from still wanting the world to work right. And getting very upset when things don’t work right. Ecclesiastes reminds us of this reality. Knowing that Solomon noticed this, and knowing that God is fully aware of the frustrations we will feel on this earth, can help us when we experience the injustice of our world.

Notice some of Solomon’s observations:

  • Time and chance happen to every person (9:11-12). The swift person does not always win the race. The strong person does not always win the battle. The wise person does not always earn the bread or the riches. The skilful person is not always shown favour. Sometimes things just don’t work out the way they should.
  • The wise person may do much good but still be forgotten on this earth (9:13-16). Solomon talks about a poor wise man who cleverly delivers a city from a great king, yet no one remember him. The same can and, no doubt, does happen today. We have to live our lives to please the Lord not the honour men give us, because sometimes appropriate honour is not given. Sometimes the people who should be honoured are overlooked.
  • A few dead flies can cause an otherwise beautiful perfume to stink (9:17-10:1). This illustrates how a person can make many wise choices, yet bring dishonour to himself and others through just a few small mistakes. We must take care even in the small areas of our lives. And we must realise that God see the big picture even when man doesn’t.
  • Those in leadership sometimes get it wrong (v.10:2-7). Another frustration about our world is when leaders get it wrong. Sometimes, those in charge promote the right person. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes the wise person is exalted and sometimes the fool is. This is another frustrating reality of our broken world.
  • Wisdom usually profits, but sometimes it makes no difference (10:8-11). Here, we read about how wisdom will direct us to be more effective in our lives. But there are times that even wisdom cannot stop an accident from happening. Sometimes, in the course of an ordinary task like moving stones or splitting wood, we get hurt. This is another reality we have to accept in our world.

The conclusion then is:

  1. Accept the reality of our broken world and what that means on so many levels.
  2. Continue to apply wisdom to our lives because God will reward us even if men don’t.
  3. Place our hope and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ in whom is found all wisdom and knowledge (Col 2:3). Only He can and will deliver us from this world and create a new one where there is no injustice, sorrow, or death.

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