Series: Under the Sun: The Book of Ecclesiastes
In the Hand of God
September 13, 2020 | John Ewart
Passage: Ecclesiastes 9:1-18
I invite you to continue with me on this exciting journey.
It might seem hazardous at times, but I promise the end will be well worth it.
Solomon has turned the corner.
One can take only so much negativism.
Let’s hear a more positive view.
I. Solomon’s Declaration:
For I considered all this in my heart, so that I could declare it all: that the
righteous and the wise and their works are in the hand of God. People know
neither love nor hatred by anything they see before them.
NIV “So I reflected on all this and concluded…”
So, I could declare…we are in the hand of God!
This does not mean trouble-free living, but it does mean beyond all that has
happened, is happening, and will happen, there is a God who cares for us and who
has never lost the grip of grace and control.
Life is uncertain to us, but not to God.
We do not know, for example, which will come next, love or hatred.
Sounds like our world right now!
But we do know Who is here holding us and will never leave us or forsake us.
He never loses His grip.
Therefore, our only proper response should be to fear, trust, and hope in God.
The motto of the State of South Carolina is Dum Spiro Spero, literally, “While I
breathe, I hope.”
I am alive, I reside in the hand of God, I have hope!
Unfortunately, some people simply refuse to reside in hope.
They grab the negative rather than rest in God’s grasp.
“We’ve never, you can’t, they won’t, maybe even God doesn’t.”
No trust, no faith, no hope.
Trust in the Lord God who holds you in His hand and is always in control!
Remember, the position in which you are placed when you are saved.
28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone
snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is
greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.
Remember His grip, the position of your salvation, and the hope they should
produce as we celebrate the Supper in just a minute.
But the king continues…
2 All things come alike to all: one event happens to the righteous and the wicked;
to the good, the clean, and the unclean; to him who sacrifices and him who does
not sacrifice. As is the good, so is the sinner; he who takes an oath as he who
fears an oath. 3 This is an evil in all that is done under the sun: that one thing
happens to all. Truly the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil; madness is in
their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead. 4 But for him who
is joined to all the living there is hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion.
5 For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing, and they
have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. 6 Also their love,
their hatred, and their envy have now perished; nevermore will they have a share
in anything done under the sun.
II. Solomon’s Destination
We must face both our earthly and our eternal destinations.
They are both realities.
We all face is the absolute certainty of an earthly death.
The righteous and the wicked will both arrive there.
There is evil and insanity, a mixture of meanness and madness, swirling about our
lives, and then one thing happens to all…we all experience earthly death.
As Euripides, the Greek Poet, wrote, “Death is the debt we all must pay”
Solomon shares a proverb.
4 But for him who is joined to all the living there is hope, for a living dog is
better than a dead lion.
City dogs in those days were often scavengers; there were very few house pets.
Dogs were often considered a lower animal, unclean, vicious, and carried disease.
The lion, however, was the strong, revered patriarch of the animal kingdom.
But even the lowest of the animals alive, is better than the highest, dead.
Life is better! Now go live!
There is a big difference between existing and living!
Life is not just what happens to us while we’re waiting to die.
Real living is a choice!
While we are alive, we still have a choice to find meaning and purpose in life.
Once you are dead, you no longer have any options.
In v. 6, we see the passions that may drive us under the sun in this life are not
enough to carry us through eternity.
Feelings cannot replace true faith.
We may all share a common earthly destiny: death, and the grave, but we do not all
necessarily share a common destiny for eternity.
What we do share in common is the fact that the day is coming in which we will all
be required to face it.
27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,
Unbelievers will have no confidence or hope on that day.
Believers do as we reside in the hand of God because we have trusted in Christ.
That is what places us there.
In the grip of grace…in the hold of hope.
We recognize what He has done for us on the cross and through the resurrection.
We must remember that and celebrate it in just a moment.
For us…1 Corinthians 15:26
26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.
Unless Jesus Christ returns and takes us to heaven, we will one day leave this
battlefield for a much better land through the doorway of death.
Are you truly ready?
III. Solomon’s Determination
7 Go eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God
has already accepted your works. 8 Let your garments always be white, and let
your head lack no oil. 9 Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of
your vain life which He has given you under the sun, all your days of vanity; for
that is your portion in life, and in the labor which you perform under the sun. 10
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or
device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.
What has the king determined we must do?
Listen to some conclusions.
First, we should live life fully!
Go! Don’t just sit there and groan about it. Go and LIVE!
10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have
come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
Solomon gives us examples: Go and LIVE by…
Gathering together and celebrating meals with one another.
Getting all dressed up and wearing perfumed oil to special events like weddings.
Enjoying and cherishing your relationships!
Enjoy life with whom God has blessed you.
Great marriage counsel!
Live this life fully with your spouse, your children, and your friends.
Throw yourself fully into life according to God’s Word and will!
Don’t hold back, the time to live is now.
There should be a contagious enthusiasm in the way we live.
We should be excited and infectiously joyful.
Step confidently out into life, knowing beyond any doubt you are in the hand of
God because of your relationship with Christ.
Blast all the obstacles out of the way.
Approach the throne of grace with boldness through Christ and live life.
V7b “God has already accepted”
We are now already approved as well.
How? Through Christ Jesus and what He has done for us!
We will remember and celebrate that in just a moment.
But first, listen to what else Solomon determines we must do:
11 I returned and saw under the sun that—The race is not to the swift, nor the
battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding,
nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all. 12 For man
also does not know his time: like fish taken in a cruel net, like birds caught in a
snare, so the sons of men are snared in an evil time, When it falls suddenly upon
them. 13 This wisdom I have also seen under the sun, and it seemed great to me:
14 There was a little city with few men in it; and a great king came against it,
besieged it, and built great snares around it. 15 Now there was found in it a poor
wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that
same poor man. 16 Then I said: “Wisdom is better than strength. Nevertheless
the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard. 17 Words of the
wise, spoken quietly, should be heard rather than the shout of a ruler of fools. 18
Wisdom is better than weapons of war; but one sinner destroys much good.”
Live life fully but secondly, recognize we must also live life fearfully.
We must live with a sense of reverence and humble submission before God.
We cannot assume or pretend we are able to control or lead this life ourselves.
Life does not always go like we want or plan it to go.
Solomon says you cannot guarantee what will happen in life, but you can
guarantee that life will be unpredictable.
So, quit being surprised by it!
The race does not always go to the swift.
Those who seem strong are not always the strongest.
Those most clever and skilled, are not always the winners.
Life is not always fair
But, in v. 11, “time and chance happen to them all” = events or incidents.
Who knows when trouble will arrive and wreck all our great plans?
When they least expect it, fish are caught in the net.
So too, men are snared in their self-centered foolishness and disobedience.
That is why we must not boast in and of ourselves.
13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a
city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; 14 whereas you do not
know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that
appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If
the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” 16 But now you boast in your
arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
The truth is that we will best display our wisdom in quiet, grateful obedience and
submission, resting in the palm of His hand.
We obey out of a great sense of fear and holy reverence of Him.
Wisdom is better. Life is better. A wise life is the best.
We must choose.
19 I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before
you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and
your descendants may live; 20 that you may love the Lord your God, that you
may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the
length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to
your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”
If this life under the sun is all there is; if there is no life beyond death and no God,
then everything is meaningless, and death is truly the end.
But we, who know Christ, know better.
May we cling to Him as we love Him and celebrate what He has done for us.
We know that this life has incredible meaning and purpose.
Life here on earth and life in eternity.
Because of Jesus Christ.
Let’s remember and celebrate what He has done.
Listen to the Word of God carefully…
I Corinthians 11:27-31
27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an
unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a
man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29
For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to
himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and
sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would
not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we
may not be condemned with the world.
Only those who have truly experienced salvation can prepare to take the Supper in
a worthy manner.
Only those who have been saved by grace through faith can recognize any sin that
would create such unworthiness.
That is why the Lord’s Supper is for believers only.
A non-believer has not experienced the saving grace which the Supper proclaims.
They cannot remember, celebrate, or proclaim something they have not personally
Thus, for those who have not personally trusted in Christ, we encourage you to
wait, watch and observe how we celebrate this special time.
First be saved, then join us and share in the Supper to remember and proclaim what
has happened to you.
I Corinthians 11:23-24
23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord
Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He
had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is
broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
I Corinthians 11:25-26
25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is
the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance
of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim
the Lord’s death till He comes.
Hear the proclamation.
Hear the testimony!