The Berean Expositor
Volume 12 - Page 56 of 160
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The conclusion of this matter is reached in 8: 17, 9: 1:--
"Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done
under the sun: because though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea,
further; though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it. For all this
I considered in my heart even to declare this, that the righteous, and the wise, and their
works, ARE IN THE HAND OF GOD: no man knoweth either love or hatred, all lies
before them (in the future)."
The baffling experiences which have this effect have been "set the one over against
the other" by God.
The word "set" is usually rendered "made". It comes in 3: 11 and 7: 29:--
"He hath made all things beautiful in His time . . . . . the work that God maketh . . . . ."
(3: 11).
"God hath made man upright" (7: 29).
The two experiences, prosperity and adversity, are made to balance one another, they
do not always follow one another as cause and effect, but as 11: 11 says, "times and
chance" enter in and prevent calculation. No one can foresee what shall be "after". God
alone holds all things in His hands and works all things in line with His purposes.
We are to rejoice in the day of prosperity. Blessings of health and friends, of happy
labour and happy homes come from the Lord:--
"Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given power to
eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour, this is the gift of God.
though He give not much (cf. verse 12) yet he remembereth the days of his life: because
God causeth a response in the joy of his heart" (5: 19, 20).
Those who misunderstand Ecclesiastes think that its teaching makes for gloominess,
brooding, austerity, cynicism. This is quite untrue. Only he who has faced the fact of
death in the light of resurrection, only he who has ceased from vain speculation and has
reached the haven of peace in the will of God, only he who has gratefully acknowledged
the limitations set around this life and its possibilities can really enjoy the blessings as
they come without being haunted by the shadow of the "one event", or being troubled by
the oblivion of the "one place".
The word rendered "prosperity" is tohυ* which is the word "good". We are not
surprised therefore to find that the word "adversity" is ra(n)g = "evil". This knowledge
of "good and evil", with its concomitant sorrow and death, commenced in the Garden of
Eden and shall go on until that day when God Himself shall wipe away all tears from off
all faces. The whole of the age is associated with the acquiring of this knowledge, and its
application. When experiencing the "good", rejoice. When experiencing the "evil",
consider. Let the visitation not pass without profit. Let the chastisement yield its fruit.
Let the lesson be learned. Let patience have her perfect work. The day of prosperity is
not the time when we consider the purpose of the ages with so much profit as in the day
of adversity. Then, says Koheleth, consider the purposes of God and learn the humbling
lesson. A word almost identical with "adversity" is "sadness" (7: 3), and the lesson is