1 For all this I considered in my heart even to declare all this, that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God: no man knoweth either love or hatred by all that is before them.
2 All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath.
3 This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead.
The Bible is the only book that propounds this doctrine to us. All other books would ask us to think that man is an angel of light in the nature inside of him, and that there is always the possibility, with proper circumstances, of his blooming out into goodness and joy and wellbeing.
Experience, long enough extended, tells us that the Bible is true and that the romancing books are deceivers. There is no real romance in life. It is all a thing of grimness and futility at the bottom.
...But all this by itself would be distressing. It is truth, but it is only part of truth. It is the only part that we know as natural men. We want the other part that the Bible only can supply. We want to know why all this is, and what will be the upshot of it all. Why is mankind such a failure? Why is all "vanity and vexation of spirit"? Mere philosophic writers can tell us nothing; the Bible tells us everything.
It shows us that in the beginning, man was made for God and not for himself only, and that man refused that submission to God in which God finds His pleasure, and that therefore man was driven off for a while into separation and alienation and death. Man in his pride may not like this explanation, but it is the explanation, there is no other.
There are many attempts to find another, they are bound to be failures, for Christ is the Truth, and this is endorsed by him. What can the highest intellects do with a problem in the nature of things inscrutable with the highest intellect? How can man find out the ways of God? It is no new thing for the wisdom of this world to grope around here in vain. "The world by wisdom knew not God" in the days of Paul (1 Cor. 1:21), and it has made no advances in that direction ever since. After the deepest search and the most soaring flights, man is bound to return with wearied faculties and confess that he cannot tell why man should be such a failure.
The Bible's explanation is not only simple but it is reasonable, and it is all sufficient. We need not go further. Man is made for God, and he is away from God and cannot be happy. Man is at war with the law of wisdom. The natural condition of his wellbeing is submission to this law. No marvel then that "the misery of man is great upon him." The wages of sin is death, and man is everywhere a sinner; no wonder that death reigns, and that his lot during life is the hapless one we know it to be. This is the explanation of the whole matter.
It is best once for all to make full surrender. It will end the mental aches and wearinesses that sweep like cloud-masses over the spirit as we survey the wide-welter of human misery and fatuity; not that the mere explanation of the misery will end the misery. By no means, but that this explanation brings with it the hope that is linked with it and which exists in no other direction.
The divine explanation not only tells us that human life is in darkness because of separation from God, but that God has purposed and is actually bringing about a reversal of this calamitous state of things, and invites every willing mind into the channel of the process. The beginning and the end of this matter go together and cannot be separated. If God has showed us the beginning of darkness with Adam, he has given us a pledge and a beginning of light with Christ:
"Whereof He hath given assurance unto all men in that He hath raised him from the dead."
He has not only made known to us the entrance of sin into the world and death by sin, but He shows us in vision the time when "there shall be no more death." The line of revelation reaches from the banishment of man from Eden into alienation to an era of joyful recall when-
"The Tabernacle of God shall be with men, He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself shall be with them and be their God."
Bro Roberts - All parts of the Truth necessary
4 For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.
Life and opportunity are very short. Death is forever, for those who have not seized upon that opportunity. Therefore, do with all your might that which will gain you acceptance with God. Waste time on nothing else.
Bro Growcott - Fear God and keep his commandments
5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
6 Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.
Them That Perish
M. A.-("What will become of nations who have never heard the Gospel? If you say 'they shall go to the generation of their fathers: they shall never see light,' does it not seem unjust that they should never have a chance of obtaining immortality?"
Answer.-You create a difficulty for yourself by a wrong idea as to what is just. To do justly is to do what ought to be done: and to do what ought to be done is to do what is bound to be done and not to do which is to do wrongly or unjustly. Now, by what rule is God bound to offer immortality to sinners? There is no law in creation requiring him to do this. Law would point the other way:
"The wages of sin is death."
It is all an affair of His own grace and wisdom. If He see fit, out of this wreck of a world, to build up a new world out of the old materials, and to use only enough of that material as His purpose requires, on what principle can His act be criticised? All we can do as reasonable mortals is to stand by and see what He is doing and adjust ourselves to His requirements when we come within the scope of His operations.
The Christadelphian, Dec 1898
7 Go thy way, eat thy bread [lechem] with joy [simchah], and drink thy wine [yayin]with a merry heart [lev tov]; for God now accepteth thy works [ma'asim].
God has appointed men to labour (Gen. 3:19), and is pleased for him to enjoy the simple pleasure with which the earth abounds, and which constitute His gracious gifts to mankind.
GEM - www.logos.org.au
8 Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment.
9 Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.
10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might [koach]; for there is no work [ ma'aseh], nor device [ cheshbon], nor knowledge [ da'as], nor wisdom [chochmah], in the grave [Sheol], whither thou goest.
This Sheol is styled in Job x. 22, " the land of darkness; " and in Psalm lxxxviii. 12, " the land of forgetfulness ; " and in Psalm xxx. 3, and many other places, " the grave."
Thus the Scriptures speak of the DEATH-STATE into which all go when they depart from among the living. While " in death " they are said to sleep. From this sleep some never awake ; which is equivalent to saying that they are never the subject of resurrection.
This is evident from Jer. li. 57, where, speaking of the princes, wise men, captains, rulers, and mighty ones of Babylon, the Eternal Spirit saith " they shall sleep a perpetual sleep, and not wake " : and Isaiah speaking of the same class, says, " They are dead, they shall not live ;
they are deceased, they shall not rise ; therefore, hast Thou visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish "(xxvi. 14) ; so that "the man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead"(Prov. xxi. 16) : a decree of very extensive application.
There is no knowledge nor wisdom in sheol
The revelation itself shows, that sheol is the death-state subsequently to the corruption of the body in the grave. If it be asked, "how came the word sheol to be applied to this dissolved state of the body?" We answer because the body is then in question, and the noun sheol is derived from the verb shaal to ask, or to make inquisition. Thus, the body, or a dead man, in sheol, may be said to be in two states—first, entire and undecomposed; and secondly, resolved into dust.
In the former he is simply in keber, the grave or sepulchre, and in bor the pit; but in the latter, his keber is barkthai bor in the sides of the pit; and they who deposited him in the keber or sepulchre, looking in some time afterwards and not seeing him, ask the question "Where is he?"
The not seeing him is expressed by hades, which signifies his invisibility; and the inquisition after him, by sheol which imports that he was sought, or asked for, because of his disappearance.
Abraham is not only in keber, but in sheol, in tzalmoth, and in barkthai bor. If a person were told he was in the cave of Machpelah and were to look in to see, he would say "where is he, I see him not?" Because Abraham is thus in question he is said to be in sheol.
Our old English word Hell is a derivative from the Saxon hillan or helan to hide, or from holl a cavern, and anciently denoted the concealed or unseen place of the dead in general. Hell has lost its original meaning, and comes now to represent a place of torment such as is found only in the mythologies of Greece and Rome.
The arena of punishment is above, and not underground, among the living, and not the dead. When the wicked are turned into sheol, they will be sought for, and found no more; for, having then gone down to "the sides of the pit," they will be but dust and ashes under the soles of the living's feet, even as Adam was before the Lord formed him from the ground.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, June 1851
With thy might...
Keep telling yourself over and over (if it is true -- and it is almost certain to be true), there is something I should be doing right now, more important than this, more related to eternity, more helpful to others, more useful to the Truth; less childish, less foolish, less selfish.
Some day I will go to bed to sleep and I will be thankful that I have made the effort required, that I will work hard on forever hereafter with satisfaction and joy; and no regret or embarrassment.
Perhaps God is watching at this very moment to see if I am suitable for His eternal use and pleasure; whether the deepest recesses of my heart are fleshly or spiritual; whether the natural bent of my heart is fleshly, and the "spectacle" is but a veneer; or whether the spiritual is the true self; sincerely struggling against the terrible power of the flesh.
Is this moment the watershed of my destiny? Shall I go on from here in prayerful, intelligent, organised spiritual self-discipline or drift week by week into the cosy valley of death; or put ineffectual sociality between both? Take your life firmly in hand and give it unto the Lord. There may be NO tomorrow. For millions there will not be, and will never be again. Today is eternally appealing, and God may have decided today that we have had tomorrow enough.
11 I returned, and saw under the sun [shemesh], that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong [gibborim], neither yet bread [lechem] to the wise [chachamim] , nor yet riches [osher] to men of understanding [the intelligent], nor yet favour [chen] to men of skill [experts]; but time [ et] and chance [pega] happeneth to them all.
'...there is such a thing as chance, but chance is controlled when the purpose of God requires it. This control is exercised in accordance with the "charge" which the angels receive from the Creator. Where no such charge exists, things happen naturally, or according to the mechanical relations of things in nature'.
Ways of Providence Ch 27
...there are myriads of chance creatures and events that are incidental to the machinery of things as established by God, but that are not the subject of specific purpose.
The Christadelphian, Feb 1886
Time and chance happeneth to all
On the face of things, there seems an absence of what men call "moral government" in the world.
...This is one of the heaviest stumbling blocks to men of thought, leading, in many cases, to the unhappy conclusion that there is no God at all, and that the world is a fortuitous evolution of blind inscrutable forces.
Bible revelation comes as a solution. It is the only solution. It may be an unwelcome solution to our feelings, but it is as inexorable as the facts of chemistry and as futile to quarrel with it. The revelation is that God and man are not friends, that human life is consequently in an abnormal state upon the earth at present which nothing but vanity and vexation of spirit can attend.
Man disobeyed God at the start and has disobeyed Him ever since. God having left man to shift for himself, man the noblest creature upon earth, for the time being, is the greatest failure. The vanity is inevitable.
Man was made for God, and by his constitution, cannot be satisfied without Him. Two things cannot be denied, not even by unbelievers: first that man is seen at his best when controlled by the fear and love of God, and animated by hope of promised goodness to come, and second that few men upon earth are now to be found in that state.
Here man is without God, and preferring to be without Him with ignorance of His highest need. Therefore the misery of man is great upon him. If this were all that is revealed, it would not be much comfort. It would be satisfactory as the explanation of a dismal phenomenon, but it would not bring the comfort that God has associated with it.
The revelation goes further: it tells us not only that man is estranged from God, but that God has a plan in progress by which man will at last be reconciled - not every man of the race as it now is, but every man at last found upon earth.
The plan is large, as the case requires, and involves a variety of instrumentalities - beginning with a system of family worship at the beginning, and ending with a Kingdom which will govern all the earth "in the dispensation of the fullness of times." For the time, it seems a failure; but no matter is to be judged by appearances. It only seems a failure to those who do not understand the plan.
They look around, and see man miserable, and at enmity with God and man. They say, where is the "glory to God in the highest, the peace on earth and goodwill toward men," sung of by the angels? We say "Wait a little, the plan is far advanced, though seemingly abortive." The plan involves and requires the prevalence of evil for a time. During this time, God is preparing the instruments of blessing for the next stage.
He has prepared Christ. Through him He is preparing "many sons" whom He will lead to glory, and who will reign with him, and bless all families of the earth.