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Issues with Sovereignty (Ecclesiastes 3:16-4:16)

Ecclesiastes  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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There are issues at times that make God's sovereignty seem confusing - we can’t always understand WHY bad/hard things happen. These issues should lead us to trusting in the One who created all things. It is God’s gift to enjoy life in the midst of hard times - through FAITH in GOD, even while suffering.

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Intro

Ecclesiastes (review) - What’s the Point of Life?

Ecc. 1-2 Life without God leads to despair.
Ecc. 3:1-15 Life with God has to start with understanding and embracing His sovereignty and authority as GOD.
Issues in Tissues, Rocks in Socks: I’ve always enjoyed playing - playing outside, playing games, playing sports. My childhood friends loved to ride bikes through the neighborhood, play in the lake, and all kinds of fun things outside. I grew up playing soccer and basketball. Once in college, my amount of time to consistently play began to steadily decline, as seems to be the way life works.
But I found some friends that got into Rock Climbing and general fitness training (which was the degree path I ended up following). Wanting to be active, I needed my body to work. Sometimes that was just not the case. Maybe I worked a muscle in a new way, or maybe I had not been working it prior. Maybe I slept wrong, fell asleep on the couch, or result of poor posture - many things could contribute to sore muscles, knots, and cricks.
One of the friends in our group was a yoga instructor who also had a knack for making up phrases. Once we were hiking in a park in Mineral Wells, and after hearing me complain about being sore and stiff, she kindly agreed, “There is nothing worse than issues in your tissues.” A comment to which another friend, who was emptying his shoe from some trail debris that had accumulated, replied, “Issues in your tissues are bad, but not as bad as rocks in your socks.”
Sometimes as we walk through life we get ‘issues in our tissues.’ Not just literally, but in the fabric of life. Things - circumstances - happen that make life uncomfortable, unenjoyable, and maybe even unbearable. Sometimes these issues are a consequence of our decisions, but not always. Sometimes they just happen.
Today we are going to look at 6 different Issues that Solomon has found to exist in a life with God - Issues that exist within God’s sovereignty.
Stop and PRAY

Ecc. 3:16-17 Issue 1: Wickedness in the World

Ecclesiastes 3:16–17 NASB95
16 Furthermore, I have seen under the sun that in the place of justice there is wickedness and in the place of righteousness there is wickedness. 17 I said to myself, “God will judge both the righteous man and the wicked man,” for a time for every matter and for every deed is there.
Wickedness exists on earth, and sometimes it is in the place of justice or righteousness.
That on earth, those doing the judging are not alway just/righteous.
City of God - Augustine. Some tried to literally make the City of God come to fruition through mandating Christianity - didn’t work. Won’t work until we have a sinless Judge on the Throne.
But, God will judge in the end both the righteous and the wicked
And, God can and does use wickedness for His purpose (ex: the Passion).

Ecc. 3:18-22 Issue 2: Death comes to all mankind

Ecclesiastes 3:18–22 NASB95
18 I said to myself concerning the sons of men, “God has surely tested them in order for them to see that they are but beasts.” 19 For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity. 20 All go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust. 21 Who knows that the breath of man ascends upward and the breath of the beast descends downward to the earth? 22 I have seen that nothing is better than that man should be happy in his activities, for that is his lot. For who will bring him to see what will occur after him?
Just as an animal dies, so dies a man - no one is getting out of here alive
NOT SAYING WE ARE ANIMALS!
He is saying our time on earth is transitory .
James 4:13-15 - life is a vapor, a mere breath that quickly vanishes
James 4:13–15 NASB95
13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”
So, trust in God, be thankful for the ‘lot’ He has given you to enjoy while you’re here.
Psalm 16:5-6
Psalm 16:5–6 NASB95
5 The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You support my lot. 6 The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.
Pouting on the soccer field - “Get up, you’re killing the grass!” Coach wouldn’t let us waste away the game by pouting over missed calls.

Ecc. 4:1-3 Issue 3: The Tears of the Oppressed

Ecclesiastes 4:1–3 NASB95
1 Then I looked again at all the acts of oppression which were being done under the sun. And behold I saw the tears of the oppressed and that they had no one to comfort them; and on the side of their oppressors was power, but they had no one to comfort them. 2 So I congratulated the dead who are already dead more than the living who are still living. 3 But better off than both of them is the one who has never existed, who has never seen the evil activity that is done under the sun.
Yes, wickedness (and thus oppression) exists. And, also in these times, the oppressed are not always comforted.
There is not always a happy ending under the sun.
Better to be dead, or even best to have never been born, than to live under oppression without any relief.

Ecc. 4:4-6 Issue 4: Rivalry leading to Lovelessness

Ecclesiastes 4:4–6 NASB95
4 I have seen that every labor and every skill which is done is the result of rivalry between a man and his neighbor. This too is vanity and striving after wind. 5 The fool folds his hands and consumes his own flesh. 6 One hand full of rest is better than two fists full of labor and striving after wind.
Every labor is the result of rivalry (envy/jealousy) betwen a man and his neighbor.
James 3:13-16
James 3:13–16 NASB95
13 Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.
Keeping up with the Jones’
Sometimes the result is apathy - and thus much loss.
Sometimes the result is a workaholic - and thus missing out on life.
The ‘greener grass’ exists only in Heaven.

Ecc. 4:7-12 Issue 5: Pursuit of Loneliness

Ecclesiastes 4:7–12 NASB95
7 Then I looked again at vanity under the sun. 8 There was a certain man without a dependent, having neither a son nor a brother, yet there was no end to all his labor. Indeed, his eyes were not satisfied with riches and he never asked, “And for whom am I laboring and depriving myself of pleasure?” This too is vanity and it is a grievous task. 9 Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. 10 For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. 11 Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? 12 And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.
Life is not about the ‘I, me, and my’ - but about the ‘We, us, and our’. (Gen 1:26)
Focusing on the acquisition of things for self, will lead to being alone.
Proverbs 18:1
Proverbs 18:1 NASB95
1 He who separates himself seeks his own desire, He quarrels against all sound wisdom.
Loneliness is huge cause for mental illnesses that lead to depression, shame, aggression, and suicide.
Two are better than one. While we can easily grasp this concept, too often we can tend to drift towards isolation.
It is easier to be alone. People require energy.

Ecc. 4:13-16 Issue 6: The Shadow of Popularity

Ecclesiastes 4:13–16 NASB95
13 A poor yet wise lad is better than an old and foolish king who no longer knows how to receive instruction. 14 For he has come out of prison to become king, even though he was born poor in his kingdom. 15 I have seen all the living under the sun throng to the side of the second lad who replaces him. 16 There is no end to all the people, to all who were before them, and even the ones who will come later will not be happy with him, for this too is vanity and striving after wind.
If the old dog doesn’t learn new tricks, then the young dog will replace him.
There will always be a Bigger Better Deal.
Chris at TAMU demonstrates this worldly reality, with his defense statement when confronted about setting up two different dates on the same night. “Girlfriends are like computers…it is good to have one, but you are always looking to upgrade.”
But, better not get cocky or comfortable, b/c there will also be another young dog.
A loud portion of Americans want a different America...

What Now?

Back to Ecc. 3.9-15
Ecclesiastes 3:9–15 NASB95
9 What profit is there to the worker from that in which he toils? 10 I have seen the task which God has given the sons of men with which to occupy themselves. 11 He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime; 13 moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor—it is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it, for God has so worked that men should fear Him. 15 That which is has been already and that which will be has already been, for God seeks what has passed by.
With all these ISSUEs with God’s Sovereignty under the sun, what is the profit of life?
How do you respond to the Issues in our Tissues - to the hard times of life?
Ecc 3:11-14 - Fear God - Trust in God and in His word. In trusting and thus obeying the Lord, we can be beacons of hope in a hard times to a hardened world.
Philippians 2:14-16
Philippians 2:14–16 NASB95
14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing; 15 so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.
These ISSUES are a part of the FALLEN world in which we are temporary residents. While we are here, we need to live through these ISSUES in a way that glorifies the LORD.
Remember, there is NO HOPE under the sun. The only hope for this world is JESUS CHRIST.
Romans 8:28
Romans 8:28 NASB95
28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
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