Scripture: Ecclesiastes 9:11, ‘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.’
Observations: As Solomon observes the world around him he notices five things that seem a contradiction. Firstly, it’s not the swift who always win the race, which is the lesson from the children’s book ‘the tortoise and the hare.’ Secondly, it’s not always the strongest who win the battle. Thirdly, the wise aren’t those who are well fed, sometimes they go without food while the fools eat well. Fourthly, it’s not always the brilliant who receive the wealth. Finally, it’s not always the learned who are favoured. Solomon isn’t saying that the swift or the strong, or the wise never achieve these things, but rather that it isn’t guaranteed. And so he concludes that ‘time and chance happen to them all.’ By ‘time’ he suggests that eventually the swift become slow, the strong become weak, the wise and brilliant and learned become fools, and eventually they all die. And by ‘chance’ he means that no matter how good they are, life may still not work out at you expect. Of course as Christians we don’t believe in chance. Instead we believe that God is in control. However, from our human perspective chance seems quite accurate. Solomon’s point is that we can’t rely on speed, strength, wisdom, brilliance or learning – none of those things can save us in this life or the life to come.
Application: How often do we trust in our speed or our strength? We say things like ‘only the strong survive!’ But the truth is the strong don’t survive. And how much do we trust in our wisdom, brilliance or learning? All our world needs is better education, but the truth is our world won’t become a better place with increased learning. What our world needs, and what we need is Jesus Christ, for only Jesus can save us. Only in Jesus is the race won. Only in Jesus do we find strength to win the battle. Only in Jesus do we find the wisdom and grace we need. Only Jesus transcends time and chance.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, there is nothing in this world that can save me from my sin, except Your Son Jesus Christ. No effort on my behalf, no earthly wisdom, no brilliance, no secret learning can deal with the fact that without Christ I am destined to an eternity separated from You in hell. Lord I pray for those who are still trying to save themselves, that they might instead turn to Jesus. Lord, may I never trust anything else but the love of Jesus displayed on the cross. In his name I pray. Amen.