“I know that whatever God does will last forever; there is nothing to add or subtract from it; and God has done it so that people will fear him. That which was is here already; and that which will be has already been, but God seeks out what people chase after.” Ecclesiastes 4:14,15
Maybe it’s funny or unusual that I’m drawn to the writings in Ecclesiastes right now. I mean, really, it’s not one of the most encouraging books. Solomon, the author, actually seems pretty disillusioned with things. All his wisdom, riches, and power have become “vanity of vanities” to him. But there are these nuggets throughout that run deeper and give me hope in a life that sometimes doesn’t seem to make sense.
“I know that whatever God does will last forever; there is nothing to add or subtract from it; and God has done it so that people will fear Him.” But I wonder if Solomon, the wisest man ever on earth, still missed some things? Because here he was, looking all around himself and talking about how none of it would last. And he was talking about his legacy not lasting after he was gone. Some fool could follow and destroy everything he had worked so hard building. And in the midst of thinking that way, he made this statement, “whatever God does will last forever.” Well what does God do? What do You do, Lord? What have You done? What are You doing?
Weren’t You molding Solomon? Weren’t You building a kingdom? Was Solomon looking at things the way You were? I’m not trying to insult his wisdom here, but if this was written later in life while Solomon had been wrongly influenced by the beliefs of his Pagan wives, maybe Solomon’s “wise” perspective was just a little off. I mean, he was still speaking wise truth, but maybe he wasn’t seeing the full truth himself. Was God really doing a work outside of Solomon? Was His work in the works of Solomon’s hands, in the physical kingdom, on the outside? Is that the real work that You were doing, Lord?
Whatever God does will last. That word for does is “asah.” It’s also used in the creation account. But so is another word “bara.” These two words carry different weights. Bara is the essence of “created” while asah is the forming of the stuff that was created. So maybe the thing that Solomon and I have to focus on is what You are really working on forming? Are You using all the created things in my life and were You using all the created things in everyone’s life, including Solomon’s to form and mold and shape each one of us into Your image? Is that the important part that will last forever? Is it not about the stuff but about the one You are forming and the one who is allowing You to form them? Are we the part of creation that is supposed to last with You?
So here You are forming us, moment by moment. And there is nothing in this world, no wisdom, no fortune, no power, no thing that exists on earth that can make us more complete, more formed than what You are doing in us. You, God, are doing this work in us so that even when we lose everything, we and the people looking on see You and they think great things about You. Or, if You bless me with much for Your glory, they see and are amazed by You again.
Isn’t that what happened with Solomon? Didn’t the queen come and glory in what God had done with him? It wasn’t that she gloried in Solomon. She knew it was of You. There are people I have met, and they’ve been through really hard experiences in life, but Your hand is so glorious upon them, and You shine so brightly. It’s not the stuff around us that is Your masterpiece. That’s not the solid stuff, that’s not the stuff that is going to last. That’s all perishing. But what really matters and what will last forever is the workmanship of Your beautiful, glorious hands in Your people. Solomon was the treasure. Those who put their trust in You and let You have Your way in their lives, they are the treasure that lasts. They are the ones who shine Your glory and instill the fear and reverence of God in others. And they do it by letting You be You in them.
“That which was is here already; and that which will be has already been, but God seeks out what people chase after. “ Now, I’m not saying I get all this. But it’s making me think. And it’s making me ask You questions, Lord, because I think there’s a lot to this. And I want to know what You want me to know. I think this all relates to the fact that there is nothing new under the sun. You, Lord, already established everything. You have it all under control. You know all the answers. And the clincher is in the last part of that sentence where it says, “but God seeks out what people chase after.” What are we chasing after?
What was Solomon chasing after? Was he chasing after all those things on the outside bringing fulfilment? Maybe You, Lord, are wanting me to ask myself what I’m chasing after? Is it You? Are You going to place things in my life to get me to figure out what I’m chasing after? Do You care enough to get Solomon to focus on what he’s chasing after? And me? Would You take the time to show us the futility of the things we chase after when it ought to be all about You?
There is something interesting about that word for seek. It’s the word “baqash” and it does mean to search out, but specifically in worship. It’s about what we strive after. Maybe this whole thing is about You getting us to really understand our own hearts and desires and strivings and to refocus them on the One who ought to be our Focus. Yes, everything else is vanity. But You are not. And in You, our lives are not in vain. In You our lives have meaning and purpose and eternity. In You, we are the glory of God.
Peter reminds us, “You will have to suffer only a little while; after that, God, who is full of grace, the one who called you to his eternal glory in union with the Messiah, will himself restore, establish and strengthen you and make you firm.” (1 Peter 5:10) This is what You are doing. We are the work of Your hands. Solomon himself was the treasure. I am the treasure. And You continually care for us and shape us and mold us to Your glory.
So what was Solomon’s final conclusion? “Here is the final conclusion, now that you have heard everything: fear God, and keep His mitzvot (commands); this is what being human is all about.” (v. 13) But there is this one thing. Here’s the wisest man on the earth by the power of God, but He didn’t fully understand about Jesus yet. But I know You, Jesus. And when I hear these wise words and put them into perspective with You, I am able to draw the right conclusion. And it’s not just about obeying commands. It’s all about fulfilling our created purpose and living in You. That’s what humans were created for, to live in You and to glorify You. That’s the only satisfying purpose of life because You are LIFE.
Solomon has treasures for us, but he was missing some parts of the picture. Listen as Paul explains it through Ephesians. “When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel…this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that He has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in Him.”
Yes, His people are His treasure. We are what You are doing, Lord. We are the kingdom that You are forming and shaping as Your very own bride! We people are the church. Those glorious unsearchable riches are being invested in each one of Your children. If only Solomon had gotten to see Jesus, it would have all fallen into place. But that’s the good news for us. We can see Jesus. Yes, Lord, we can see You and know You. You are not a hidden mystery any more. If only I learn to worship and chase after You so You can reveal Yourself in me. Because every part of beautiful You that You bring to life in me will last forever. Keep forming me, Lord, I love being the eternal work of Your hands.