Summary: This sermon deals with the problem of suffering and pain.
The book of Ecclesiastes deals with the toughest questions in life including the problems associated with suffering and evil. Chapter 8:14 says "Here’s something that happens all the time and makes no sense at all: Good people get what’s coming to the wicked, and bad people get what’s coming to the good. I tell you, this makes no sense. It’s smoke."
(from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)
Solomon has already concluded that there are some things you’re just not going to figure out(8:17)
"you’ll still never figure out the meaning of what God is doing on this earth. Search as hard as you like, you’re not going to make sense of it. No matter how smart you are, you won’t get to the bottom of it." The Message
Deut 29:29 call these things “God’s secrets” "The Lord our God has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them, but we and our children are accountable forever for all that He has revealed to us, so that we may obey all the terms of these instructions. NLT
Some of “God’s Secrets
1.Sovereignty of God/free will of man
2.When will Jesus return?... Why hasn’t He? (Acts 1:7)
3.Problem of suffering and evil (oldest question in the Bible- Job)
The challenge is not to allow these secrets that belong to God to be a stumbling block. If you trust someone, you allow them to have secrets.
He handles this great difficulty with a great truth:
This has been the way of God’s people in grappling with this difficulty.
Job, before he discourses of this matter, lays down the doctrine of God’s omniscience (Job 24:1)
Jeremiah the doctrine of His righteousness (Jer 12:1)
Habakkuk the prophet that of His holiness (Hab 1:13)
The psalmist that of His goodness (Ps 73:1)
Solomon here fastens upon the truth that though good and evil happen to both the good and the bad, that Almighty, all-knowing, all-loving, Righteous, Holy God has a special care of and concern for his own people: The righteous and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God.
This doesn’t explain everything but it is the truth.
In life for both the righteous and the unrighteous are 2 great equalizers: Adversity & Death
1.Men have different character but suffer the same condition (vv.1-2, 11)
Righteous or wicked, clean or unclean, ones who give an offering and ones who don’t, the saint and the sinner all have different character but suffer the same conditions: Prosperity and Adversity (Comforts and Crosses)and seemingly with no rhyme or reason. Jesus said in Matt 5:45
For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. NLT
The Bible is filled with examples. David was rich but so was Nabal. Joseph was favored by the king, but so was evil Haman. Wicked Ahab was killed in battle... but so was righteous Josiah
I’m reminded by what Bob Hope said after receiving a major award. He responded, "I don’t deserve this, but then I have arthritis and I don’t deserve that either."
There is more to success than just talent and skill. The fastest car doesn’t always win the race… most talented team doesn’t always win the game… strongest army doesn’t always win the battle… the most gifted doesn’t always win the prize.
2. Men have different paths but the same fate (vv.2-3a, 12)
The fate of all is death. Four friends were talking about death. One of them asked the other three, "When you are in your casket and people are mourning you, what would you like to hear them say about you?"
The first man said, "I’d like to hear them say that I was a fine physician in my time and a great family man." The second fellow said, "I’d like to hear that I was a wonderful husband and a school teacher who made a huge difference in our children of tomorrow." The third man replied, "I’d like to hear them say, ’Look, he’s moving!’" John Beehler @sermoncentral.com
Death is the ultimate enemy because it takes everything away from us. Think of all the things we strive mightily to preserve and keep from losing, and death steals them all. Sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell. The capacity to speak, to communicate, to enjoy any kind of pleasure - all gone. The ability to move about, to exercise control over our surroundings, to influence others. Friends and family. Gone. Our possessions are divided up and given away, our friends and loved ones abandon us and find other companions, and we are put into a box in the ground. Death is not a friend, death is an enemy. Alan Perkins @sermoncentral.com