16And I saw something else under the sun: In the place of judgment—wickedness was there, in the place of justice—wickedness was there 17I said to myself, “God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed.” 18I also said to myself, “As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. 19Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. 20All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. 21Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?” 22So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?
(Ecclesiastes 3:16-22 ESV)
In yesterday’s passage we read that God has a plan for our lives. Yet that can be hard to believe when we look around at some of the things that take place on this earth (“under the sun”). Over the next several days King Solomon will raise some valid objections to the idea that God cares about us and that everything that happens is good. He begins today with the observation that the world is not filled with justice but with wickedness.
Life has never been fair. Innocent people go to prison. Guilty people go free. Children are sold into sex slavery. Racism exists. People lie, steal, and cheat without caring who they hurt.
Bad things happen on this earth and those who commit them don’t always seem to be held accountable. This is because of the wickedness that exists in the hearts of men. We are evil. The injustice that we see happening on this earth is not God’s fault. We could choose to do things God’s way [Matthew 7:12]. But we don’t.
Think about it. If God executed immediate judgment when we sinned, the human race would have been wiped out in a just a few hours – thousands of years ago.
Instead, we have to endure the evil that we (yes, we) and others commit. None of us are sinless. God allows human injustice to exist as a test – to make it clear to us that without Him we are like animals – as one dies, so does the other.
Ultimately, this life is nothing more than a test. God is constantly testing us [Genesis 22:1; Exodus 15:25; 16:4; 20:20; Deuteronomy 8:2, 16; 13:3; Judges. 2:22; 2 Chronicles 32:31; Matthew 4:1; Hebrews 12:5-13].
We are given tests in school not so the teacher can find out what we don’t know but so we can find out what we don’t know. This helps us identify areas where we need to improve. Life is the same way.
God does not test us so He can learn something about us. He tests us so that we learn something about ourselves. Hopefully we will realize that without God life is futile; the same fate (death) awaits both man and animals.
This should make us humble. When viewed from a simply earthly perspective, human beings are no different from the animal kingdom. We are born. We work to survive. Then we die. Without God life has no meaning.
It is only through the gospel of Jesus Christ that one understands that we are eternal beings [2 Timothy 1:10]. Atheism can bring no meaning to life. Nor can it reveal the truth of our eternal existence [Job 19:25-27].
So there is nothing better for us to do than enjoy our work. That is our lot. This is what God wants for us.
We are not to worry about injustice. It is not our job to right past wrongs – although we should do what we can to be fair and honest with each other in the present and in the future.
In the end, God is our judge. He will make things right. While this may not (and likely won’t) happen in our lifetime, it will happen. Everyone will have to stand trial before God [Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:11-15].
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