Of Being and Time

Scripture: Ecclesiastes 3:1-22, John 12:31
Lesson: 4
Solomon ponders God's role in the timing of events in human life, and of God's judgment of men's actions.
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Good morning, Happy Sabbath. We're so glad that you're joining us for another central study hour, coming to you from the Sacramento Central Seventh-day Adventist church here in Sacramento, California. We are glad that you are tuning in, listening on the radio, watching live on the internet at saccentral.

org, or watching weeks delayed on the various television networks. You are a part of our family here at central, and we're glad that you're joining us this morning. And there is a group that let us know that they're watching. They are from winnipeg, Canada. And it's the adventist community services center in winnipeg, Canada.

And we are glad that you are joining in this morning. We're thankful that you're part of our family here at central. And I just wanted to give special greetings to each and every one of you up there this morning in Canada. Our first request you'll find on in your hymnal, "breathe on me breath of God," 265. And we will sing all four verses.

This comes from erik afarrel from tallahassee, florida, ... [Music] Wasn't that beautiful? The words to that song, I hope that is your prayer and mine every day, that we will let God be in our lives and have his will, that we'll be instruments and vessels just waiting to be filled and to be used by him. Those of you who would like to, I encourage you to send in your favorite hymn requests at our website, saccentral.org. Click on the music link and send them in. And we will do our best to sing those for you on an upcoming Sabbath.

And we are very thankful for each of you who have sent them in. And our next request comes from all over the place. You'll find this on 373 in your hymnals, 373. Lawson kana from saint Paul, Minnesota, anazie from london, united kingdom, John and lola from new south wales, australia, jim and wanda from ArKansas, joyce wall from barbados, izzie from New York, Christine from jamaica, abby from belize, central America, katrina from Massachusetts, dominica, and all the way from zambia we have nacombi, and kenric from brooklyn, New York, fred from brewster, Washington, and he says The Song that we're singing was the theme song for the medical cadet training in 1943; I didn't know that. And then rebecca and martin from essex, united kingdom.

, "Seeking the lost," all three verses... [Music] Thank you so much for sending in your requests this morning. And don't forget, send more in. And we are so glad that you sing along with us. And I know that you do because we hear from so many of you that this is your Sabbath school.

And you pull out your hymnals. You're at home, wherever you are. And you take part in our service. And we are very excited about that. At this time, let's bow our heads for prayer.

Father in Heaven, thank you so much for your love, your protection, for being with us. As a loving Heavenly Father, you've brought us back here again this Sabbath morning to spend time with you, to worship you, to praise you for everything that you've done in our lives and that you are doing. And father, I just thank you so much for each person that is here and those, of course, who are joining us from across the country and around the world. Give them a special Sabbath blessing as they worship with us this morning. And I pray that you will be with our speaker, that you will give him words straight from on high for us this morning, and that we will listen attentively.

In Jesus' Name, amen. At this time, our lesson study is brought to us by our senior pastor here at central church, Pastor Doug Batchelor. Morning. Good to see each of you here. If I haven't told our central family, happy new year.

Now, I realize of course that this is being broadcast 3 weeks later, but for the members here, I haven't seen some of them since last year. So I just needed to tell them that. And very glad to have each of you here. Glad to have our visitors that are here with us today. And for our friends, we are continuing in our lesson study dealing with the book of Ecclesiastes.

And as always, we have a free offer that goes along each week with our study. And we've been offering the book, "tips for resisting temptation." It's offer number 708. Ask for "tips for resisting temptation." And there's a phone number. Some are listening on radio. Right down 866-788-3966 and you can order a hard copy of this.

Now, we get a lot of requests from people watching all over the world. And they say, "well, you know, how come we can't order it and have it sent to australia or africa." Well, we can't deal with the shipping when it's out of country. But you can get the offer. A number of friends in the u.k. Said, "how do we get it?" Go to the Amazing Facts website, amazingfacts.

org. And you can read it there. It's under the free library. We want to get the information out. Some people like to have the hard copy in their hands.

And so we hope that you can take advantage of that. You know, there are some other websites. I'm going to exploit this opportunity to talk to our viewers right now. We get a lot of questions on some subjects dealing with the Bible. This is a Sabbath school study time.

People are always asking us about the Sabbath. "Well, why the Sabbath?" "What is the Sabbath?" Last night, as we were preparing for the Sabbath, [knock, knock, knock] a couple of young men riding bicycles knocked at our door, very nice, young men. Would God that all young men looked as clean-cut as they did. Would God that all of God's believers went out two by two. That'd be good.

I may not agree with the message, but there's a good method in us going out. Amen? And so one of our neighbors told them, "if you want to give a Bible study to someone, you ought to go to that house right there." Now I'm going to have to go visit with this neighbor. But they said, "we heard that you're a seventh day Christian." They didn't get it quite right. "And that you might even have been on tv once." I said, "yeah, once or twice." But--and so they wanted to know, "what is this seventh day?" I said, "ah, I'm glad you asked." And so we had a little Bible study. Anyway, but there's a lot of questions about that.

And so there's a new website. Matter of fact, if you type in the word, "Sabbath day," on the first page of a Google--that means that it's a very important website--this will appear: Sabbathtruth.com. I'd like to recommend you pass that on to your friends. Give them the link. It's got just volumes of information on the Sabbath truth; the history of the Sabbath, how to keep the Sabbath, how did it come about from the beginning, who's tried to change it.

It's just all there. It's the truth about the Sabbath. So I hope that you'll pass that onto your friends. Look at it yourself, Sabbathtruth.com. Later in Ecclesiastes, this book has a lot of questions about death.

And matter of fact, even in our study today, there's another website, and it's called thRuthaboutdeath.com, truthaboutdeath.com. And you may want to look at that as well. Well, we have a memory verse. Our lesson is number 4. And the title of today's lesson is "of being and time.

" "Of being and time." And lesson number 4. Our memory verse is Ecclesiastes 3:17. By the way, our study today is the entire chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes. I like when it's just one concise chapter and we can read it in context. Ecclesiastes 3 is our study.

Our memory verse is Ecclesiastes 3:17. Will you say that with me, please? I'll read it to you from our lesson here. It says, "I said in my heart, 'God shall judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.'" Now the lesson today is dealing with the subject of time. Turn in your Bibles please to that great book of Ecclesiastes, chapter 3. And I'm going to read without comment, I'm gonna try, the first eight verses.

Now, this is a beautiful piece of poetry that has been cited many times. It is so simple and it is yet so profound that is has challenged some of the greatest minds of the world. "To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to gain, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time of love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace." Now, that covers all of the high points in life. I touched on everybody's life in what I just read there.

And most of this, when you look at it, these are the paradoxes, they're the opposites of life. Being born is the opposite of dying. Healing is the opposite of killing. Gathering and casting away: opposites. All through it, it is the opposites of life, but they happen in the cycle of life with time.

Now, before I go to deep into this, I want to talk a little bit with you about time. What is time? Not under--you know, it's still a mystery, to some extent, what time is. I think most of us are at least somewhat acquainted with einstein's revolutionary theory of relativity that time can somehow bend with light. And I heard one time that if you put a clock, they did this test, if you put an atomic clock in an airplane, scientists have shown that an atomic clock, traveling at supersonic speeds in a jet ticks more slowly than in a stationary counterpart. I got a scientist here.

Isn't that right, roger? They don't understand that. But that's where they've come up with that theory that people in space-travel somehow could come back to earth after traveling the speed of light, and they would be a different age than others who had stayed. So time is something of a mystery. Let me tell you why I think it's important to understand--the dimension of time is something of a mystery. Have you heard it said before, "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord?" I heard it quoted this week on a radio program.

And it's very important for us to understand that God lives in all dimensions of time. Can God see the past perfectly? Can he see the future perfectly? It's absolutely no challenge for him. So can God take a prophet back in the past and have the prophet, like three-dimensional, see what's happening? Is he just showing him a video or can he take him back? Think about that. Can God take a prophet forward in the future and show him? How can God do that unless he has control of the future and the past? So when a saved person dies, their next conscience thought is the resurrection. Is that right? They have no consciousness of time.

For them it is a moment, a twinkling of an eye. So for them to be absent from the body, their next conscious thought is the presence of the Lord. But for us who are living in the dimension of time on this planet, has it happened yet? No, that resurrection hasn't happened yet. It's still future for us. See what I'm saying? This really confuses people.

That's why folks will go to a funeral. And sometimes they'll say, "you know, our loved ones are with the Lord." And yet they're putting them in the ground and the tombstone might say, "sleeping in Jesus until the resurrection." And I heard someone asking on a radio program yesterday, long-time believer saying, "where exactly are they?" There's confusion. And it's because a lot of people don't understand that God lives in all dimensions of time. And so he can see all these things. For a person who dies-- king David died.

He died saved. Is he in heaven yet? How long has he been dead? ,000 Years, roughly. Does it seem like 3,000 years for him? If you were at David's funeral, you could actually rejoice for him knowing that his next conscious thought is the trumpet in the resurrection. But in acts 2, when Peter's preaching, he says, "David is dead and buried and not ascended to heaven." Can't be any more clear than that. Not yet.

As far as David's concerned, it'll be his next conscious thought, 'cause there's no awareness of time. How many of you have gone to sleep, you slept 8 hours, you slept so soundly, it seemed like a minute. It messed with your time, didn't it? You just didn't have that consciousness. You know, sometimes when I take a nap--i try to take a little nap every day--i have to look at my watch before I take a nap, because sometimes I don't know whether or not I slept, unless I look at my watch when I get up. And so I'm deciding whether or not I slept, not based on how I feel, but what does the clock say? So our consciousness of time, it's a perception.

"Time is the stuff that life is made of," to quote ben franklin. We live in this dimension of time, but God is not restricted to time the way we are. Does that make sense? He can live in any dimension of time. God can move into eternity in the future, a zillion years from now, and it is just as close to him as reality. And he can go back in time that way too.

Isn't that right? I believe that. And so knowing that, knowing that when it talks about time--when God first made our world, what did he say? Someone read for me Genesis 1:14. Do I have microphones? Let's find 'em first. Pancho? Genesis 1:14, where was one? Tim has one here. If you're willing to read--you got that, mike? Okay.

Let's have mike read Genesis 1:14. And there are a number of verses that say something similar. "Then God said, 'let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years.'" Alright, thank you. As we move into Solomon's discourse on time, he talks something of the seasons of life. Now, we're starting a new year.

We live in a part of the world that has seasons. If you live between the tropic of capricorn and the tropic of cancer, around the equator, you don't feel the seasons as much. They might have a monsoon season. And it could be a little hotter or a little colder, but I've been on some islands where the sun goes down about the same time every day. It doesn't change from season to season.

Where you go to Alaska, radical swings in when the sun goes down. Sometimes it just doesn't go down. Sometimes it just doesn't come up. But most of the people in the world live in parts of the world where there are seasons. And God gave this wobbling of the earth on its axis and the heavenly bodies to help measure and govern the seasons.

Even in our bodies, the moon affects the tides. And it even affects the seasons somewhat. And it is interesting. I don't know that they've ever drawn a correlation, but the cycle of the woman is similar to the cycle of the moon. And you've got a woman standing on a moon there in Revelation.

Our lives are governed by seasons. Now, he gets into them. Let's look at them one by one. Ecclesiastes 3:2: "a time to be born, and a time to die"; you know, sometimes in church, in the same day, we will have a baby dedication and later on a funeral. And it feels like quite a paradox for a pastor when you see those great extremes.

Spiritually, is there a time--? As we look at each of these points that Solomon makes, I want you to think, what is the Spiritual application? Is there a time spiritually for birth? Is there a time spiritually for death? Matter of fact, it actually happens the other way around for the Christian. In order for you to be born again, you must first die. You must be crucified with Christ. Am I right? So there's a spiritual time of death and a spiritual time of birth. And if you want to be born again, it's not enough to be born once; you must be born twice to be saved.

Everybody listening has been born once. Those that are born only once will die twice. Those that are born twice, will die only once. You got me? Of course, there might be a few rare exceptions like Lazarus who was resurrected. Alright, give you--next verse, verse 3: "a time to kill, and a time to heal.

" A time to kill? Now, that word kill there, if that helps you at all, is not the same as the word kill in Hebrew in the 20th chapter of Exodus, in the commandment. That word is more like the word murder. In Exodus 20:13, the word is ratsach, to kill. It means "as in a human being, especially to murder, to put to death a man, a man slayer." But here, we're looking at a word that is a little different in Exodus 3. It's talking about harag.

And it means, "to smite with deadly intent, to destroy." It could be killing an animal, or killing anything. A time to kill. Is there a time to kill? Or do ya might have to pull up a weed? No one ever wants to think about what is a time to kill. [Sighs] I've been praying about whether to even mention this, 'cause I know I'll get letters and it'll be misunderstood. We had a nice vacation over the holidays with one episode in particular that was very unpleasant.

We have a dog that we've had for almost 16 years. What is that 105 in dog years? And this was our son Micah's dog that outlived our son. And she got to the place where her health was absolutely pitiful, couldn't walk, no teeth, deaf, and just was suffering. And we really resisted doing this. It is extremely unpleasant, but we talked to the kids, and we prayed about it.

And we thought, "you know, we need to make that awful decision," which we made. And you know what? I've got peace about it. But when you analyze it--i mean, they've got a lot of gentle words, "put them to sleep," "putting them down." You've heard these words from vets and people before. But what is it? It's killing, isn't it? But it was time. It was difficult.

And I got choked up, very difficult, 'cause it was like the end of an era. You have a dog 16 years, but she was just suffering. Well, it was time. Now you don't do that with people. I don't believe it euthanasia.

You understand that? I want to get that clear. There's a difference here. Alright, let's move on here. Don't want you to think about that too long. Ecclesiastes 3:4, "a time to weep, and a time to laugh.

" Is there a time to laugh? There's something now I don't think anyone here is going to argue there's not a time to weep. There is a time to weep. And sometimes people don't have the good sense to know which one to do where. I--i actually was once doing a funeral and I was overcome with the giggles. It's terrible, bad timing.

But it was a dear, old saint who lived a full life into their s. And it's a time of rejoicing. You know they're saved, so you don't grieve as much at those funerals. And someone up front said something that, just to me, struck me as hilarious. And so I'm sitting up on the platform, and I'm.

.. [Stifles laughing] and you ever, you ever laugh so hard that you start to cry? And I'm going like this... You know, and I'm shaking a little bit. And people are looking up just thinking, "oh, look how he loved her." Well, now the cats out of the bag. And no one knows what funeral this was.

It was years ago, so I can tell you that. But it was bad timing. I'm thinking, "oh, Lord." I actually was scared to death. I'm praying. I'm saying, "oh Lord, oh Lord, don't, don't.

" I was afraid I was going to break out. And I was doing my best to stop it. Bad timing. And--but there is also a time to laugh, isn't there? And Christians have a sense of humor. You should have a sense of humor.

How many of you know Christians that never smile? And you know there's already a lot of tragedy in life. You've got to learn how to, even in the midst of tragedy, look on the bright side as far as possible. That's one of the attitudes of Christians is we're cheerful. If you want to find something negative and bitter to think about, you'll always have something to think about. But you know you can also find something to laugh about.

I'm thankful for one thing my mother taught me. And if you want to know why I am the way I am with my sense of humor, it's not my father. It's my mother. Matter of fact, we went to see our mother just before she died. She was in a coma.

And there was a nurse there at the hospital. And she said, "you're mother had the greatest sense of humor. Here she was, she's dying of cancer and she kept making jokes." I said, "yeah, that's my mother." She just, she found humor in everything. And you know, I think that's a gift. 'Cause God wants us to have-- I mean, there's a time when you don't want to laugh.

We just read that. But don't lose your sense of humor. Christianity is not against laughter. You know what it says about heaven? "There will be children laughing and playing in the streets." Laughter is a good thing. "A time to laugh, a time to mourn--a time to weep, a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.

" These are opposites. Mourning, a person is going around with their head down smiting on their breast. Dancing is the antithesis of mourning. And people are gonna say, "wait a second now, Pastor Doug. What is that dance we're supposed to do? I thought Christians weren't supposed to laugh or dance.

" Now, the dancing that they talk about in Bible times, just in case someone's underlining that, some teenager might be taking this to their parents now, it was not men dancing with men, or men dancing with women rather. It was in the Hebrew culture, the men danced with the men, the women danced with the women. You remember when--it was a victory dance usually. When the men came back from battle, you remember the ladies came out with their tambourines. They danced.

They rejoiced. They said, "Saul has killed his thousands. David's killed his ten thousands." When jephthah came back from the battle victorious, his daughter came out with dancing to rejoice. When the children of Israel crossed the red sea, the women went out with miriam dancing, rejoicing. It wasn't the sexually suggestive kind of dances that people typically think about in our culture.

But there's nothing wrong with the kind of folk dance that is not sexually suggestive, that is modest, that is, like I said, it's not usually going to be men with men and women with women. But there's a time for those things. Let's keep moving. Verse 5, "a time to cast stones away, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain." I put in new gardens before and you had to dig it up and just cast a lot of stones away to make good ground. And sometimes you're going to be building something and you're out gathering those stones to fill in the road or to build a foundation.

It's kind of interesting when you think about it. There's a time for all these things. Verse 6, "a time to gain, and a time to lose." Even bill gates has had reverses in his fortune. You know, sometimes when the stock Market goes down, he loses a billion dollars in one day. How'd--you think that'd make you nervous, huh? "How much did I make today?" "Sorry, you lost a billion dollars.

" Course he's got $50 billion. But I remember one time there was a big stock Market dip and someone said, "bill gates lost $1.5 billion today in value." So even people at the top there's gains and loses in life. Don't get discouraged. Someone is not a failure or a success because they never fall down. They're a success because whenever they fall down they get back up again.

There's a time to gain and a time to lose. Any of you ever play monopoly? One thing I learned from monopoly is that every now and then you're going to just land on one of those cards that you take a chance and you suddenly got to pay for something that was an unexpected expense. Life is like that and you just need to be ready for it. "A time to keep, and a time to throw away." Now, I've underlined that and given it to my wife several times. She doesn't appreciate those subliminal messages.

All of us, sometimes God puts opposites together. One person in the family, they're thinking, "I might need that someday." You know one of those people? "You never know--" or it's got a memory attached to it. And that memory might be it was the container you drank orange juice out of. Wouldn't want to lose that memory, so let's save the container. But there's some people we all know who they don't want to let go of anything.

And there's others, who just, they hate clutter. And if you don't need it in the next 6 hours, throw it away. Right? And you got the two extremes. Well, you gotta know what those times are. There are times to gather and there are times to clean up, clean out.

With a farmer--someone read a verse for me, Proverbs 11:24, Proverbs 11:24. It encapsulates--maybe somebody here on this side. Who wants to do that? You gotta find it and then you raise your hand. You got it, curtis? Proverbs 11:24, talking about a time to gather and a time to throw away. Go ahead.

Verse 24, "there is that scatterth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty." Very good. In farming, you have to cast away to increase. He that eats his seed, it tends to poverty, doesn't it? You've gotta be able to cast it away. That's why it says, "cast your bread on the waters and after many days it will return unto you." And so these are the laws of life--to understanding-- that sometimes in order to increase, you must let go. You must cast away.

Gonna keep moving, 'cause I haven't gotten to half the chapter yet. "A time to love, and a time to hate." Is there a time to hate? Does God hate anything? Psalm 5:5, "you hate all workers of iniquity." Revelation talks about the doctrine of the nicolaitans, "a thing which I do hate." There are things that God hates. That's what he says. God is love. "A time to love, a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

" You wouldn't think that there'd ever be a time for war. It's not that God enjoys war, does he? But in this life, what did Jesus say about wars and rumors of wars to the end? That's not a sign of the end. He said there will be wars and rumors of wars, but the end is not yet. In other words, that is part of the cycle of life. Matter of fact, I was thinking about doing something.

Pancho, bring me that microphone for a second. Ray, elizabeth, come here. You didn't know I was going to do this, did you? Come here, please. I am your pastor; obey. [Laughing] I'd like to introduce you to ray and elizabeth renjifo.

Those of you who are long time members here know that they were members here for many years. And then after the--surprise, surprise. We'd like to welcome them back. They have been in germany for what? Two years? Let me give you the mic, ray. How long were you there? Two years in germany.

And what brought you there? Why'd you go? Well, I'm a officer in the army reserves and I was activated to 2 years to work at landstuhl regional medical center. And you were serving in the capacity of a nurse? As an army nurse, yes, an officer. And did you see some life and death going on? Plenty of it. You were greeting some of the casualties as they came right out of iraq. Exactly, I was the air-evac nurse and we were responsible for treating the wounded soldiers that arrived to germany to be treated there, to have surgery if needed, and also if they needed further care and treatment.

Many of them needed to be sent overseas to the states to conus, which is continental u.s., For further care and treatment and surgery. So you saw firsthand a time of war and a time of peace. I sure did. And you also saw some were killed and some were healed. Exactly.

So you can appreciate this. By all means. You know part of the reason I'm bringing you up is, elizabeth, you said that in germany a lot of people were watching our programs. Yes. So I wanted to give you a chance to greet them and tell them you made it safely home.

I just want to say doris and les and everybody at the chapel in germany, we love you. And here's pastor, doug, you see? I told you he's our pastor. We made it back home to our home church safely. Thank you for praying for us. Amen.

Can you say praise the Lord? Thank you. Give that to pancho. Thank you very much. We're so glad to have them back. And I wanted to bring them up and publicly welcome them.

And praise the Lord for their service too--a great ministry they were involved in over there treating those people when they're really open in a time of need. Well, let me see, did we get through our times? We talked about "a time of war, and a time of peace. Now, why don't we move on here. Back to Ecclesiastes, we're in chapter 3. And after we get out of this discourse, it says in verse 9, "what profit has the worker from that in which he labors?" You know, so often labor is temporary.

It's like our kids say, "why do I need to clean my room? It'll just get dirty again." "Why wash the dishes? They're just going to get dirty again." Right? Have you heard this before? "Why take a bath? Just gonna get dirty again." Life is full of ongoing labor; things that need constant maintenance. What is the profit from all that? Verse 10, "I have seen the God-given task which The Sons of men are to be occupied with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also he has put eternity in the hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from the beginning to the end." Whoo. That is so profound when you think about it.

"He has made everything beautiful in its time." A dead bug is not beautiful. A caterpillar is not always beautiful. But between being a dead bug and being a caterpillar, you got a butterfly and it's beautiful. Flowers go through a cycle of beauty. There are people who their personalities and characters, there is a time when they really shine the beauty of who they are comes out.

God has made all things. In other words, some things that God made, who would ever think, why did God make a skunk? How could that be beautiful? But even in its time, it's beautiful. It's got a purpose. So everything has a beautiful purpose that God made. "He has also put eternity in their hearts.

" Oh yeah, there's so much here. I'm never gonna get through this all. Why don't people want to die? Why do we naturally--I'm talking about healthy people. There's some who maybe are suffering and are some circumstances and they just don't want to live. But most of the time, people fight to stay alive.

Isn't that right? We strive to stay alive. And then as we see that we're sick, we are heading for the grave, that creates a lot of distress. Why? Because God "has put eternity in everybody's heart." When God first made man, did God intend for man to die? Or is death an enemy? "God has placed eternity in our hearts." And until we have eternal life, our hearts are dissatisfied. Until--listen carefully--until we have assurance of eternal life, we're not satisfied because "God has put eternity in everybody's heart." If we think we're gonna live a thousand years like the antediluvians did, the people before the flood, they felt life was short, and some of us are thinking, "man, if I could only live a thousand years." I was in the Market this week, saw one of the supermarket tabloids. Did not buy it.

I just want to underscore that. But the headline says they'd found a new pill that causes everlasting life. You take this; you'll live forever. Did you all see that one? In the checkout stand, only in the checkout stand, don't bring it home. And I thought, "right.

" I mean, we're laughing because we know in this life, we get old and we die. But he's put eternity in our hearts. There's this is desire to live forever. Let's move on here, "no man can find out the work God does from the beginning to the end." The Bible says God is past finding out. Who can define God? Those that can define their God don't really have a God, because our God is so much bigger than anything that can be defined.

God is past finding out. Verse 12, "I know there is nothing better for them than that they should rejoice, and do good in their lives." And verse 13, "and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy all the labor, it is the gift of God." Now, God does send us good things. God does want people to enjoy our lives. But to enjoy our lives without God is really not natural. The Bible says a lot, especially in the Psalms about a person that is blessed by the Lord, that we should be able to do our best to make up our mind to enjoy what God has given us.

It's like Paul said. It's not talking about striving to have a great abundance and you're not going to be happy until you have that. Enjoying life--you notice he talks about enjoying your work, "the good of all his labor," that God has given everybody an opportunity to enjoy their sphere of life. How many of you remember what Paul said in Philippians? "I have learned in whatsoever state I am in--" who knows the rest of that? "Therewith to be content." Paul said, you know, "I could be in jail, I could be in a ship in a storm, no matter where I am, I have learned to be content." And so what the Lord is saying here is learn to find the best in your lot in life. And make up your mind to enjoy what God has given you.

Some people are so upset that they only have one cookie; they don't enjoy the one cookie when they eat it. You know what I'm saying? It's like no matter what they're not going to enjoy it because it's not enough. "I would give more to God if I had more." Have you heard that before? And then God gives them more, and they said, "I'd give more to God if I had more." They still don't give. Learn to enjoy what God has given you. Verse 14, "I know whatever God does, it shall be forever.

Nothing can be added to it, and nothing taken from it. God does it, that men should fear before him." When God establishes some decree, it is forever. Now, when the Lord first made this world and he had a plan, has that plan been interrupted? Has the devil caused some detour on that plan? Is God going to achieve his ultimate plan for this world? Will there ultimately be on this world people who are working in gardens with immortal bodies, enjoying eternal life in this paradise? That was his original plan. It's not going to be worse than it was. It's actually going to be an upgrade from his original plan.

But when God makes up his mind something's going to happen, it's gonna happen. And by the way, when it says that God does something, "it shall be forever." "Thou blessest, oh Lord, and it is blessed forever." Have you heard that one before? Did he bless the Sabbath day? He made it back as part of his original plan before there was even sin. Is it still in place? It has not changed. "Nothing can be added to it, and nothing taken from it." You know, that reminds me of a verse where it says we should not add to His Words, nor take away from His Word." When God speaks, it is eternal. Jesus said, "heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

" The Word of God abides forever. So when he talks about what God does, how does God create? He speaks. It's the Word of God that lasts forever. You can't take away from it. You can't add to it lest you be found a liar if you try.

That we "should fear before him." Verse 15, "that which has already been, and which is to be--" I'm sorry, "that which is has already been, and that which is to be has already been." That's going back to an earlier study, "is there anything new under the sun?" Someone might say, "well, you know, we are living in an age that never had some of this rocket ships, computers. This is new." Well, it isn't new. It's really a new demonstration of something that has always been around. People don't change. You might be sitting at a computer screen.

Wind the tape back 6,000 years and somebody's sitting at a carpet loom. You're watching the lines on your computer screen and the pixels and someone else is weaving a rug. And you might wind the tape back another 4,000 years and you got eve and the garden and eden staring at a leaf, studying the creation of God. People are really the same. I don't know if what I just said made sense to you.

I mean, you can just, you can change--you can change the apparatus and you can change the environment, but people and the reactions of people, it's all the same. There's really nothing new under the sun. The same way people used to get addicted to alcohol, that's how they get addicted to cocaine. They didn't have cocaine back in Bible times, but it's the same principle. There's nothing new under the sun.

See what I'm saying. Keep going here. "And God requires an account of what is past." All things that are done, man will give an account some day. The Bible says, "for every idle word that we speak," this leads us into verse 16, "moreover I saw under the sun: in the place of judgment, wickedness was there; and in the place of righteousness, iniquity was there." Oh man, this is all so deep. You can go so many different directions with this.

I was visiting with someone just this week, and explaining to them that you can go to prison where you would think you're surrounded by unGodly people, and you will find examples of love and goodness in prison. Do you all believe that? You will find nobility, honesty, goodness, sacrifice, even in a prison. Then you can go to a Christian ministry that is doing all these Christian things--and even Jesus had a Judas in his group--and you'll find wickedness there. In this world, we have been--the seeds of good and evil are sown everywhere. Some areas are more predominantly good, but you'll find some bad seeds.

Even in the best corn crop, you're gonna find a few weeds, right? So do you stop eating corn? See what I'm saying? "And I said in my heart, 'God shall judge,'" I'm in verse 17, "'God shall judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every purpose under heaven.'" Somebody read for me Ecclesiastes 12:13-14. These are the last words in the book of Ecclesiastes. Shouldn't be too hard to find. Who has that? Kwamboka, you gonna read that for me? Talking about judgment here. "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.

For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether it's good or whether it's evil." So here early in the book as well as at the end of the book, one thing Solomon knows is ultimately everything that is done under the sun, an account will be given for that thing. The good that is done in the midst of bad, the bad that is done in the midst of good, for the war and the peace, the killing and the healing. There's a judgment for all these things that are done. "Moreover I saw under the sun: in the place of judgment, wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, iniquity was there. And I said in my heart, 'God will judge the righteous and the wicked.

'" Why are the righteous judged? When is the righteous judgment taking place? Before he comes or after? Come on, what's the sign outside the building say? It says, "seventh day adventist church," right? Do we believe that there is a judgment that takes place before the advent? Yeah, absolutely. Does the Lord--is he dispensing rewards when he comes? So if God is knowing who is caught up to meet him in the air when he comes, if God is dispensing glorified bodies when he comes, then is there some judgment of the righteous to verify their authenticity before he comes? This is often called the pre-advent judgment or the judgment of the righteous, the investigative judgment. But yeah, judgment must begin at the house of God, right? So even the righteous are judged. That's what it says. God'll judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time," what was the first part of chapter 3? "A time for every purpose and every work.

" You know, something we're going to get to later Solomon talks about; he says, "there is a time--" or "because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the hearts of The Sons of men are fully set in them to do evil." Did you get that? Someone--i forget where that is. Is that Ecclesiastes 8? If you find that verse, tell me. It's in Ecclesiastes. "Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the hearts of The Sons of men are fully set in them to do evil." Verse 11 of what? Chapter 8, verse 11, thank you very much. You know what he's saying there? Is because God does not zap a person with lightening right away, they assume, you know, "God has to do everything right now, or hey, maybe I got away with it.

" So "The Sons of men, their hearts are fully set in them to do evil." They say, "hey, nothing happened to me. I stole that. I did this bad thing." The time has not come yet for judgment. Since we met last, saddam hussein was executed. And you know what I thought was interesting? Forgive me.

I don't want to get political. I'm not trying to vindicate different country's methods of dealing with capital punishment. What I am talking about is the media made such a big deal about the nature of his execution and the unsophisticated way he was executed. They completely missed the point that here was a fella who was a modern day hitler and that his judgment had come. And that just it's like no one even realized that he had gotten away with so much for so long.

You may disagree with me. I'm sorry, you're wrong. But he got away with so much for so long and finally when he's judged, everybody's whining over the actual sentence. It took a long time coming. And so they saw him dressed up with a tie in a courtroom looking civilized for so long, they thought this was him.

No, he wasn't being judged for his time in the courtroom dressed up. He was being judged for what had happened years before where he mass murdered people. And so sometimes people think because nothing happens, "hey, I got away with it." There's a day of judgment. And if we have sins in our life that we have not dealt with before the Lord, we might think, "well look, nothing happened. It's buried.

It's hidden. It's forgotten." If you have not confessed that and forsaken that and repented of that and in some cases make restitution for those things, just because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, doesn't mean that time for judgment is not coming. And that's why it's important to make a thorough work of plowing up the fallow ground and repenting of our sins. Say "amen." Man and beasts. I've only got 6 minutes to talk about this.

Proverbs 12:10, someone read this for me. Now Solomon is going to talk--Proverbs 12:10. Hold your hand up if you're willing to read that. Solomon is going to talk about some of the vanity of what he sees happening to man and beasts. Birdie, hold your hand up.

Proverbs 12:10. "A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel." He's saying here in these last few verses how important it is that we understand there's a difference between man and animals. And yet, God cares about animals, doesn't he? Numbers 22:32. I'm short on time. I'll read this to you.

"And the angel of the Lord said to him, 'why have you struck your donkey these three times?'" Who's the angel talking to? Balaam. "Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to stand against you, because your way is perverse before me. The donkey saw me and turned aside for me these three times. If she had not turned aside from me, surely I would also have killed you, and let her live." How many of you remember the story of a prophet who disobeyed God. And another prophet told him, the other prophet wasn't that ethical, the other prophet said, "when you leave, a lion is going to slay you.

" And the man took off riding on a donkey thinking, "well, if there is a lion, he'll get the donkey and leave me alone." And the Bible says, "the lion killed the man and let the donkey alone. And the donkey was standing there next to the lion and the corpse of the dead man." The donkey lived; the man died. It's interesting how God cares about animals. "I said in my heart," verse 18, "'concerning the condition of The Son of men, that God tests them, that they may see that they themselves are like animals.'" Now, is man part animal? Do we share some things in common with animal? Let me rephrase that. Yeah, sure we do.

We got a lot of the same basic carnal needs that animals have. But we are not animals. I was riding with my son stephen this week. He was asking me, "where did manners come from?" He said, "dad, who invented manners?" Because I'm always telling him, if you're a parent, you know this, "don't slurp your food." "Take your face out of your plate." "Use your--wipe you're mouth." You're always trying to tell him some manners. "Eat with some dignity.

" "Chew with your mouth closed." Anyone been there, done that before? Why? I mean, why do we tell them that? "Eat more quietly. Don't want to hear your food sloshing around." He said, "who invented this?" I said, "well, I think it came from the aristocrats in France and england when they realized there was a distinction between man and animal and people should eat with more control and sophistication, because we are not animals. God has made us different. And yet, do some people act like animals? Yeah. Is there a difference in the way God Judges man than animals? Matter of fact, this next verse, it's coming here.

"For what happens to The Sons of men also happens to animals." They both die. They both decompose. "One thing befalls them: as one dies, so dies the other." You know, I mean, the same way an animal might slowly die from old age or disease or sickness, people die. They decompose. It's not pretty to think about.

"Surely, they all have one breath." When God breathed the breath of life into adam, he didn't have a special vintage of breath for humans and men. The breath of life is the breath of life. That's why it says that "when the Spirit goes out, the breath returns to God who gave it, and the body returns to the earth." But notice there's a difference. "Man has no advantage over animals," speaking of that we all die, we're mortal, "for all is vanity. All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to the dust.

" Now, here's the difference. "Who knows the Spirit of The Sons of men, which goes upward, and the Spirit of the animal, which goes down to the earth?" What is the difference? One's going upward. You notice it doesn't say "spirit of all those saved." the Spirit of all men when they die, return to God who gave it. We are made in the image of God. Where is the difference between man and animal once they do die? Will all men be judged? We will all go up and be reviewed by God.

We will all give an account to God. Animals do not give an account to God for their lives. How many agree with that. Just wondered. Alright, amen, that's right.

Animals, "oh, but that was a pit bull. It wasn't a poodle. And so it's going to give an account to God for it's vicious temperament." Doesn't happen that way. If one happens to be a cuddly puppy and one's a porcupine, God doesn't say, "I'm going to judge all porcupines," or mosquitoes or anything like that. God doesn't judge the beasts like that.

There's a difference. Let me see if I can finish this chapter. Verse 22, "so I perceived that nothing is better than that man should rejoice in his own works, for that is his heritage. For who can bring him to see what will happen after him?" Will we see what happens after us? Yeah. God is gonna, there's gonna be a time after the millennium where everybody's gonna understand what their influence meant, good or evil, after them.

Amen? Well, we're out of our time for chapter 3 here. We'll be back, God willing, next week. For our friends who are watching, don't forget that you can get the free offer, "tips for resisting temptation," just you can either call the number, -788-3966. We'll send it to you. Ask for offer number 708.

And don't forget to also go to the Amazing Facts website, simply amazingfacts.org. You can type in amazingfacts.com, amazingfacts.net, and praise the Lord, it'll take you to Amazing Facts every time. And if you have a song request, go to Sacramento central, the church website, saccentral.org, and let us know. God bless you, friends. It's been a pleasure studying with you.

Keep us in your prayers. And by the grace of God, we'll be able to study again our next section next Sabbath.

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