My wife and I are finally taking a bit of time for ourselves in a week or so. It’s our 25th anniversary and we are going on a boat with a large rat. To that end, I am reading ahead for my daily readings so they publish appropriately on the youtubes. Yesterday we went over Ecclesiastes 7 and I was struck by verse 10:
“Do not say, ‘Why is it that the former days were better than these?’ For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.”Ecclesiastes 7:10 (ESV)
This is smack dab in the middle of a section of text where the “Preacher” (likely King Solomon) is explaining why it is better for those who have never lived than for those who were born. The book of Ecclesiastes is the scientific analysis of a life spent without God. The text is replete with mentions of a life spent “under the sun”, asserting that his perspective is from that of someone who is only focused on this world and does not consider the promises from God.
So why is it that this stood out to me? In the world we live in now, all anyone talks about is the “old days”. The days before covid, or this pervasive transgender ideology, or the days when our current president wasn’t our president, or before 9/11, or before the sexual revolution, or before the FED was created, or before anything else. Either you are in the progressive agenda of “whatever is new is right” or you are clamoring for what lies behind. The problem, as the Preacher states, is that this view is not from wisdom.
Wisdom is that which is wrought from struggle and obedience to the God of scripture. There is a wisdom that can be found in atheist or pagan ideals, but all of this is first found in scripture and its application in the life of the atheist/pagan is borne in the heart of that man which is drenched in the truth of the law of God in their conscience. So what is the wisdom that is lacking in the view that only points backward? It fails to see opportunities to grow. It fails to evaluate where we are now and to lead us forward to glorify God in the current realm. Anyone who spends their time looking back cannot clearly see that which lies in front of them and live their lives in a mere reactionary state.
Wisdom, however, teaches us that we have to trust in the God of scripture. All of what we are experiencing in this world has been given to happen by the God who created all of it. God is the author of the hearts of men, and as such, he controls nations to his ends. When a nation acts wickedly, God allows it to do so to their own hurt, but His direction is always to that which most glorifies Him and brings good for His people. Moreover, when a whole nation of people tolerates sin, God will, as John Calvin has famously said, give them wicked rulers. But the promises from God are for our ultimate good – for those who are called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28). Even in this age.
As the Preacher said, I also say to you. There is deep wickedness in this world, and it will probably continue to grow, but God knows all of this. He is still saving His elect from all the nations, using this pervasive evil in the world to lead us to Him alone as our only true savior and king. As the pain we experience in our hearts from the sinfulness and open acceptance of that which wars against God continues to grow, God uses this and the cries from the heart of His people to bring change in the hearts of the unconverted. Ultimately, however, God will always win in the end. Trust in our King, keep your eyes forward, and seek to serve God faithfully in all that we do. This world is not our home as our eternal abode is hid with Christ in God.
Why do the nations ragePsalm 2:1-6 (ESV)
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”
He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”