Jump Start #3240
Jump Start # 3240
Ecclesiastes 4:3 “But better off than both of them is the one who never existed, who has never seen the evil activity that is done under the sun.”
Poor Solomon, he seems disillusioned, disgusted, disappointed and depressed. Ecclesiastes is a journey. It starts dark and ends wonderfully in the light. But on this journey, life appears to be monotonous, joyless and without direction or purpose. The fourth chapter begins this way. Solomon sees oppression. Those hurt have no one to comfort them. There seems to be no justice. And, this brings him to our verse today, a rash statement from the preacher who is looking for answers. Better, he preaches, is the one who never existed.
Those words seem very similar to Job’s sad lament where he wished he never saw the light of day. Solomon, is an observer. Living as a king in the palace, with dozens of servants and staff on hand, I doubt he ever tasted the bitterness of being oppressed. As a king, his father handed over to him the most peaceful, rich and thriving kingdom in the history of Israel. Solomon’s battles with the enemy were few. His greatest struggles were internal, personal and of faith.
But let’s look at Solomon’s words from our verse. Is it true that one is better off who never existed? He is one who never saw the sunshine, a rainbow or the falling snow. He is one who never heard a song bird or ever got to sit in an assembly of God’s people. While it is true that he never saw evil, as Solomon’s words express, he also never saw grace, hope or became an instrument to change evil.
Here are some thoughts for us:
First, life can punch the wind out of us. Remember those days as a kid, maybe you were playing dodgeball or little league baseball, and you got hit in the stomach and the wind, as they say, was knocked out of you. It hurt. It was hard to breathe. We had to sit out a while until we could breathe again. Evil can do that. I don’t know if there is more evil today, but we certainly hear about it all the time. Internationally, nationally, and locally, crime, oppression and evil fill the nightly newscasts. A majority of large cities are experiencing rise in crime. There may be some political factors driving that, but there are certainly a lack of spiritual values that lead to that.
Hebrew babies were killed in Egypt during Pharaoh’s days. Herod’s thugs killed young boys in Bethlehem during the first century. Evil is nothing new. The days of Noah were so corrupt that the text tells us that the people were thinking about evil constantly. We can hide inside. We can wish we were never born. We can live in fear. Or, we can realize that God is upon the throne and someday evil will stand before the Almighty.
Second, our eyes sometimes can only see one thing. For Solomon it was oppression. Yet, Solomon was the son of one of the greatest men of God, David. It was his father who sought the heart of God. It was his father who wrote those powerful Psalms. It was his father that extended grace to Saul’s grandson, even inviting him to sit at the table with David. Solomon didn’t have to look far to see goodness.
And, the same is for us as well. We can watch the nightly news and get our ears filled with shootings, murders, and evil. Or, we can look around and see the mighty things the people of God are doing. Daily God’s word is being taught worldwide. Daily people are coming to Christ with changed hearts and lives. Daily disciples are praying and honoring the Lord by extending grace, offering forgiveness and being servants with generous hearts. Like Elijah, when Jezebel was seeking to kill him, we can hide in a cave and believe we are the only ones who care. We are the only ones doing right. We are the only ones. Or, as in his story, thousands were standing for God and he never realized that.
Third, while there may be some security in never having known evil, God’s way is for us to thrive spiritually and go into all the world with the saving message of Christ. The world is evil. The world is broken. And the hope, is not in our exiting this place, but by making things brighter by shinning the light of Jesus Christ. Light is the brightest in the darkest places. A burning match is barely noticed in a bright office with dozens of lights on. But light that match in a cave and it seems to be so bright. Rather than hiding or running, God wants us to make the world brighter.
Never seeing evil may be seem safer and the best option, Solomon thought so, but it’s not God’s way. And, for Solomon, that’s not a choice we can make. It is the Lord who decides if and when we are born. It is the Lord who gives us our parents. It is the Lord who equips us, fills us with talents and puts opportunities before us. We can waste away the days dreaming what life would be like if we lived in a palace in England or had billionaire parents, but all of that is not productive. We’ve been placed in this generation with a job to do.
Thankfully, as the book of Ecclesiastes progresses, Solomon finds the purpose of life and this sad, distorted view goes away.
God has made you. God has placed you here. Like David in Acts 13, we are to serve the purpose of God in our generation. God’s counting upon us.