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Choice Not Chance Determines Destiny
Scripture: Ecclesiastes 9:1-12; Romans 15:12;
Track 9 of 10 in the Pipe Dream series
Running time: 51 minutes, 48 seconds.
I find it fascinating that what was true prophetically for the Jeremiah and the prophets, was also true philosophically for Solomon. For the past nine chapters, Solomon is blasting away at mans under-the-sun lifestyles. He tries each of them and finds they are nothing more than exercises in futility. They look and sound so satisfying, but they were neither.

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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.

Choice Not Chance Determines Destiny

It is often necessary to blast before we can build. It is not only true in construction, it is true in life. Before something beautiful and new can become reality, the old and the ugly must be destroyed. Blasting precedes building.

A good example is the prophet Jeremiah. Not only Jeremiah, all the prophets used the same pattern. Jeremiah, when he was given his task, was instructed by God to pluck up, break down, destroy and overthrow before he was expected to build and to plant. Blasting precedes building.

I find it fascinating that what was true prophetically for the Jeremiah and the prophets, was also true philosophically for Solomon. For the past nine chapters, Solomon is blasting away at man’s under-the-sun lifestyles. He tries each of them and finds they are nothing more than exercises in futility. They look and sound so satisfying, but they were neither.

If you had to describe the one main philosophy lived by the people in our country, what would you say it is? Does it satisfy?

In Solomon’s time there were several different philosophies of life that Solomon tried. Many of them are still being tried today.

• Materialism – Possessions satisfy. Provide yourself. When we buy into this philosophy we accumulate things because we think objects will make us happy or comfortable. What is wrong about this philosophy?

• Epicureanism – Life is a ball, enjoy yourself. Eat, drink and be merry…for tomorrow we die. It speaks about being free, unaccountable, and available for anything. It is today’s playboy mentality. What is wrong with this philosophy?

• Humanism – Humanity is glorious, exalt yourself. If we are good enough, strong enough and capable enough, we can do anything we want on our own. Humanist teach that we are the masters of our own destiny. A good example of humanism is the Tower of Babel. What is wrong with this philosophy?

• Fatalism – These are the people who say, the game is fixed, resign yourself. Of the four philosophies, this is the one that makes us the most passive and tempts us to become uninvolved. This will eventually lead to a doctrine of despair. Oh, what is the use? If all of this is going to occur, why go on living? What is wrong with this philosophy?

Solomon does not want any of his readers to get caught up in any of these philosophies. Over the past nine chapters he has given us several examples of how they work and in the end, Solomon comes to the same conclusion, Vanities of vanities, all is vanity. He blasts these philosophies out of the water. They do not work. They are false. Now it is time to build.

Ecclesiastes 9:1-12 (NIV)
So I reflected on all this and concluded that the righteous and the wise and what they do are in God's hands, but no man knows whether love or hate awaits him. All share a common destiny--the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad, the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not. As it is with the good man, so with the sinner; as it is with those who take oaths, so with those who are afraid to take them. This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of men, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead. Anyone who is among the living has hope--even a live dog is better off than a dead lion! For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten. Their love, their hate and their jealousy have long since vanished; never again will they have a part in anything that happens under the sun. Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do. Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun-- all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom. I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all. Moreover, no man knows when his hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so men are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them.

A Biblical Philosophy On Living That Will Work

The very first verse is important. Solomon starts off saying that he reflected back on all the philosophies of the world that he tried and he concluded…they do not satisfy. In these following verses, Solomon is going to give us the philosophy that does work and things that we can count on as being absolute truth. These are the major realities that give life meaning and definition. There are four of them that we need to always remember.

The Sovereign Hand Of God (1)

The late philosopher-theologian Francis Schaffer was absolutely correct: “God is there and He is not silent”. It is inescapable, inevitable, first and foremost, God is God and He is the boss. Nothing is out of His control.

Does this mean that we are useless, robots, facing a future that God has designed and we can do nothing about it? What choices do we have if God controls everything? What does it mean to be in God’s hands?

Did you notice in verse 1 that it is the righteous and the wise that understand that God has everything under his control? With that fact in mind, how does life become different?

What does it mean when Solomon writes that no man knows if love or hate awaits him?

The Absolute Certainty Of Death (2-3)

Death awaits all of us. All of us will die someday. This theme can be found all throughout scripture.

Romans 15:12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.

Remember the nursery song that kids sing:

Ring around the roses,
Pocket full of posies,
Ashes, ashes, we all fall down.

Do you know the origin of the song? It goes all the way back to the Black Plague in Paris France. It was first heard by an old man who was pushing a cart stacked high with dead corpses. Many people thought that the plague came from polluted air and that walking among the fresh flowers in a garden was a way to breathe cleaner air. Doctors filled their pockets with flower petals and brought them into the hospital with them. They would throw them onto the patients thinking the smell would make the patient better. They also would blow ashes into the face of the sick person causing the patient to sneeze. This would clear the lungs of the sick person of the pollution that was believed to be causing the problem. But, they all never the less fell down.

Evil and Insanity Reside In The Human Heart (3)

In the world today, this is a real truth. Not only do we see depravity, there is insanity mixed in with it, which makes things much worse.

Think about our times today, what is going on around us that can only be described as being totally insane? What are the insane actions we adults come up with?

In each of us is a private polluted pool of insanity. You can drink from it. You can swim in it. You can be polluted by it. It is your own private pool and everyone has one. How else can we explain the evil and rebellion of our age today? How else can we explain it when a Christian openly sins everyday knowing what sin does to his relationship to God and yet still does it.

True or False: I don’t have to sin. There is no reason to sin.

How many of you have ever gone one full week without sinning? Explain that to me. Why are you sinning? You have no reason to sin. So why sin?

There Is Hope For Living (4-6)

Finally Solomon is getting to some things that seem a little more positive. Solomon says there is hope for man. There is nothing more encouraging than hope. Solomon quotes an Arabic proverb familiar to their times:

A live dog is better than a dead lion.

Why would Solomon use this and what is it’s meaning? Because, the king of the jungle, if he is dead, has no hope. As long as there is life, there is a dream, there is the anticipation of a new plan, there is love, and there is a purpose. Along with life comes the presence of hope.

What is good about knowing we are going to die? We can get ready for it. There is hope in getting ready. But for the dead, there is no longer any reward…their memory is forgotten.

Great Council On How To Live 365 Days A Year

The point is very clear, if we are alive, then we have hope. Now since this is true, how are we to live our lives as we respond to the four inescapable truths Solomon just gave us?

See how verse 7 begins? “Go then.” In other words, Solomon is saying, “Don’t just sit around and sigh as you think about the truth of things. There is something better to do.” Basically he is saying, “Have a blast while you last!”

Live Happily Wherever You Are

Since there is hope for living, eat your bread in happiness; drink you wine with a cheerful heart, because God has already approved your work. This is one of the first glimmers of the new Covenant back in the Old Testament. Life has not been given to us to make us sad and unhappy. God is not angry with us. He wants us to enjoy life with Him and share life with Him. The problem has been we have wanted to live life without Him.

I looked at the point Solomon wrote and it made me think. Why has God already approved my work? What does that mean? Because I am in Christ and I have a close relationship with Him. He approves of me and accepts me. And because we are close, I know what he wants and desires and he approves all that I do because I do it for Him. It is because of our relationship.

Walk In Purity And In The Power Of The Holy Spirit

Solomon is telling us that life is happier and more fun when we do it God’s way. To the world, a pure life seems dull and boring. But it is quit the opposite. Plus there are many things that give us grief that a righteous life doesn't bring. We are happier because the pain of sin is diminished plus it’s consequences.

Solomon also tells us that the target of our love is to our spouse. Look at verse 9. There are four basic principles found here that tell us a lot about what our attitude should be about marriage. What are they?

Throw Yourself Fully Into Whatever

Verse 10 tells us that there are no limits to the work we are to do. Solomon encourages us to do all that we can because a day is coming when we will die and no more work will be done. Basically, live your life to the fullest. Make the time God gives you count for something. Don’t wait to accomplish something tomorrow. It might never come and your opportunity will be lost. Because of hope, life is worth living and God wants us to live it to the fullest.