Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Reaping What We Sow (Ecclesiastes 3:16-22)

“God shall judge the righteous and the wicked” (Eccl. 3:17).

The imagination of fallen man wanders so quickly that the Preacher is compelled to deter any wrong conclusions that might be derived from his former instruction. He has just spent a great deal of time bemoaning perpetual motion of life. Seasons come and go, everything changes, but, in the midst of it all, God has a purpose under heaven. Some might then conclude that anything goes. If God has a purpose, and everything has a season, then one might as well do as he pleases. This, however, is vanity above vanity.

“God shall judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every purpose and for every work” (vs. 17). Just as there is a season to be born and a season to die, a season to kill and a season to heal, so there is a season for longsuffering and a season for judgment. God will judge the iniquities of the flesh. He will not allow our transgressions to fade into oblivion, leaving justice unmet. What we sow, one day we will reap. If we have sown in sin, we will reap the rod of eternal punishment. If we have sown in righteousness, we will reap the blessings of eternal life.

As sure as the seasons change, so God will judge the earth. But like so many seasons in our lives, the time of judgment has not arrived. Now is the season of God’s longsuffering. He waits. He tests. The Preacher tells us that God tests man and to reveal his similarity to the animals—both live, breathe, and die.

Such is the degradation of mankind. The crowning glory of creation has been reduced to the level of the animals. Sin has degraded man, and until man realizes his humiliation, he will not acknowledge his just condemnation or his need of Jesus Christ. “Indeed, they will never know their honor until they have known their shame,” Bridges writes. “Yet this they will never see until God shall manifest unto them their real state. So degraded is man, that he cannot understand his own degradation.”

Man, unlike the animals, possesses an immortal spirit. His spirit “goes upward” to God’s judgment, while the spirit of the animal returns to the dust from which it was formed. We shall by no means escape our destiny to die and then face the judgment. This season, too, will surely come.

Jesus spoke often about the coming judgment. Yet, we hear very little of it today in evangelicalism. How should you incorporate the message of judgment into evangelism? Why is it impossible to tell the Gospel without explaining the coming judgment? When you tell others about Christ, warn them of God’s judgment.