Simple Answers to a Complex Problem

Simple Answers to a Complex Problem

Pastor Don Carpenter

2021 Bible Reading Challenge / God’s Sovereignty; Eternity / Ecclesiastes 3:1–15

Why does it seem so stinking hard to understand what in the world God is trying to do? We know God has promised to work all things together for good… but that good seems to be illusive.

Romans 8:28 KJV

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

We have learned from our study of Daniel that God indeed is in charge. The great preacher and author R.C. SPROUL said “If there is one single molecule in this universe running around loose, totally free of God’s sovereignty, then we have no guarantee that a single promise of God will ever be fulfilled.”

So there is the promise, but how does that work when we see the heartbreak of living in this sin cursed world? We know that in God’s eternal mind it all has a perfect purpose, but how can we make sense of it?

The wisest man besides Jesus to ever live grapples with this problem in our passage tonight. We will find that much of the lack of understanding is because of the concept of time. We are temporal, and God is eternal. So let us dig into the truth of this passage and find some simple answers to a very complex question… what is God doing and how can it be good?

God’s Plan and Timing Is Beautiful

Even though man struggles to understand how.

Ecclesiastes 3:10 KJV

I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.

Everything is By Design and Purpose

Ecclesiastes 3:1 KJV

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

Romans 8:28–29 KJV

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

God’s Timing Is Perfect

 Ecclesiastes 3:11 (KJV)

 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time…

Galatians 6:9 KJV

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

Psalm 145:15 KJV

The eyes of all wait upon thee; And thou givest them their meat in due season.

I heard Mike Reynolds, then the Director of Utah Missions, at a meeting in South Carolina telling about leading a Mormon to Christ the first time he witnessed to him. It was such an unusual experience for Mike that he began asking questions about others who had witnessed to the man. He then said, “Something like nineteen other people had witnessed to him before I did.”

“Something like nineteen other people” who had witnessed to him may not know he has professed faith in the Jesus of the Bible. “Something like nineteen other people” may be frustrated because they have not seen the results of their efforts. The truth is, only God knows all the results of all our efforts.

Mankind Is Not Capable of Comprehending God’s Entire Plan.

God has given man a glimpse at the concept of eternity.

 Ecclesiastes 3:11 (KJV)

 … also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

Man was created in the image of God, and was given dominion over creation (Gen. 1:26–28); therefore, he is different from the rest of creation. He has “eternity [“the world,” KJV] in his heart” and is linked to heaven. This explains why nobody (including Solomon) can be satisfied with his or her endeavors and achievements, or is able to explain the enigmas of life (1:12–2:11). God accomplishes His purposes in His time, but it will not be until we enter eternity that we will begin to comprehend His total plan.1

1 Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Satisfied, “Be” Commentary Series (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 47.

Man is still finite and his comprehension limited

 Ecclesiastes 3:12 (KJV)

 I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.

Isaiah 55:8–11 KJV

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are my ways higher than your ways, And my thoughts than your thoughts. 

For as the rain cometh down, And the snow from heaven, And returneth not thither, But watereth the earth, And maketh it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 

So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: It shall not return unto me void, But it shall accomplish that which I please, And it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

There may indeed be appropriate times for everything, and God does know these times, but, speaking of humans, no one can discover what God is doing. This expression does not arise from a flippant “leave it to God” attitude, but from an agony of desire to know what is going on. But such knowledge is inscrutable. There is nothing (from beginning to end) that human beings can truly fathom.1

1 Tremper Longman, The Book of Ecclesiastes, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1998), 121.

MATT CHANDLER: “Trying to figure out God is like trying to catch a fish in the Pacific Ocean with an inch of dental floss.”

God’s Plans Are Anchored In Eternity

Ecclesiastes 3:14 KJV

I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.

God Himself is not even bound by time.

Ecclesiastes 3:15 KJV

That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.

The Solution: Be A Good Steward of God’s Gift of NOW.

Ecclesiastes 3:12–13 KJV

I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life. 

And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.

Enjoy life

Again Solomon indicated that this ability to enjoy life comes as a gift of God (cf. 2:25). Christian D. Ginsburg properly renders 3:13 as a conditional sentence: “If any man eats and drinks and finds V 1, p 985 satisfaction in all his toil, it is a gift of God” (The Song of Songs and Coheleth, pp. 311–2).1

1 Donald R. Glenn, “Ecclesiastes,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 984–985.

 • Enjoy the fruit of your labor

 • Rest in the truth that God works and lives in the eternal realm

 • Respect the fact that God’s plan is right even though you cannot comprehend it.

 • Realize that we are finite and temporal, God is not and He is in charge.

1 Peter 3:10–12 KJV

For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: 

Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. 

For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.

Third, man’s life can be enjoyable now (vv. 12–14). The Preacher hinted at this in 2:24 and was careful to say that this enjoyment of life is the gift of God (see 3:13, 6:2, and 1 Tim. 6:17). “The enjoyment of life” is an important theme in Ecclesiastes and is mentioned in each of the four sections of chapters 3–10. (Review the outline.) Solomon is encouraging not pagan hedonism, but rather the practice of enjoying God’s gifts as the fruit of one’s labor, no matter how difficult life may be. Life appears to be transitory, but whatever God does is forever, so when we live for Him and let Him have His way, life is meaningful and manageable. Instead of complaining about what we don’t have, let’s enjoy what we do have and thank God for it.1

1 Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Satisfied, “Be” Commentary Series (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 48.

Ecclesiastes 12:13–14 KJV

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. 

For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Proverbs 3:1–2 KJV

My son, forget not my law; But let thine heart keep my commandments: 

For length of days, and long life, And peace, shall they add to thee.

“This is God’s universe, and God does things his way. You may have a better way, but you don’t have a universe.”


Exported from Logos Bible Software, 7:22 PM July 27, 2021.

Comments are closed.