Nov 06-07, 2021
From the Pastor’s Desk: Rev. Simon Lee
Dear brothers and sisters of RCAC,
Part 1 (October 30/31, 2021)
1. Beginning with the sovereignty of God (14-15)
2. Facing the reality of injustice (16)
3. Looking to a time for Justice (God’s judgment) (17)
Christians, like many others, love freedom and justice. Therefore, faithful Christians are willing to be Christian soldiers, more so if we know we will have victory in the end through Christ. In his ongoing reflection, Solomon in Ecclesiastes gives us hope by saying: “I thought to myself, “God will judge both the righteous and the wicked; for there is an appropriate time for every activity, and there is a time of judgment for every deed.” (3:17) It is comforting to note that “God will judge both the righteous and the wicked,” meaning He will bless those who have been faithful and righteous and punish those who have been wicked and unjust. Indeed, “an appropriate time” refers the timeliness in all the things that happens in our daily lives as ordained by God. But it is even more important to know that “there is a time of judgment for every deed.”
We often hear well-intention Christians say we must fight against injustice because it is a matter of justice. Yes, the God who liberated the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt had indeed shown that in action. But unfortunately, we often do so with a spirit of bitterness and vengeance, with our own sense of justice. Paul teaches us what we must do when we face injustice with these words: “19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12: 19-21) This is exactly what Christ did in dying for our sins, and we can do no less. We therefore may have to be more patient when we encounter evil over which we have no control. We must not “play judge” as we know that God is the ultimate judge and He is always just in His judgment, as it is part of His character. God tells us, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Ps. 46:10)
4. Recognizing the reality of life and death (18-20)
In the past many months, several of my own classmates from university, faithful Christian colleagues and long-time friends have passed away one after another. No longer am I just bidding farewell to much older people who are many years my senior but saying good-bye to my own peers. Death is no longer something far in the future. The thing that strikes me most is that many among them are good people who in my own mind should live longer with rich lives, but God has His own timing. But the reality is each day, all sort of people, good and bad, still dies, as death is no respecter of persons. Solomon even compares human beings to animals, both ends with the same fate in death, with these word “Both go to the same place; both come from the dust, and to dust both return.” (20)
I remember a poem I learnt in High School called “Death the Leveller” by James Shirley. The last part of the poem goes like this:
The garlands wither on your brow:
Then boast no more your mighty deeds;
Upon Death’s purple altar now
See where the victor-victim bleeds.
Your heads must come
To the cold tomb:
Only the actions of the just
Smell sweet, and blossom in their dust.
Whether it is powerful Kings or powerless peasants, death is the final leveller and equalizer. Death brings everyone to the same level before God’s judgment seat where God judges justly and rules sovereignly. For it matters not how long we live, but how we lived while living.
5. What does the future hold? (20, 21)
Solomon ends here with the question of who goes up (into heaven) and who goes down into the earth.
Since humans are all mortal, Solomon recommends that we should enjoy our work and the fruits of our labour, for this is their lot, their reward (cf. 2:24; 3:12). For people who are ignorant of God’s plan and cannot know what the future holds, including what happens after death, Solomon asks the rhetorical question, Who can bring him to see what will happen after him? (Or, what does the future hold) (21) Therefore, for followers of God, in the time that we have, we must focus on enjoying the work that God has given us, yielding to His sovereignty, trusting in God who will judge all injustice on earth.
The man of God, Moses, in his prayer to God has this to say about the years of our life, “For all our days pass away under your wrath; we bring our years to an end like a sigh. 10The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. 11 Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you? So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90: 9-12)
It is inevitable that we all must face injustice and must live through them. May each of us all gain a heart of wisdom! God brings justice and makes all things beautiful in His time! (The end)
Your servant in Christ,