Words Of Truth

"That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth..." (Proverbs 22:21).



An Overview Of The Old Testament

Part 197 – What Profit In Labor Through God Requireth That Which Is Past (Ecclesiastes 3:9-15)

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1. What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth (use Scriptures outside of Ecclesiastes 3:9-15 to answer this question)?

This question is worded as Ecclesiastes 3:9 is written.


Š     Ecclesiastes 3:9 is a question, not a statement saying that there is no profit at all in labor: “In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury [poor poverty want] (Proverbs 14:23).

Š     Physical work for and in this world doesn’t profit you in that what you work for is temporary (Proverbs 23:4-5, Isaiah 55:1-3, and John 6:27).

Š     When you really think about it, we do have to work to provide for our physical needs (Proverbs 13:11 and II Thessalonians 3:10-12).  Yet, you cannot take that which you work for in this life into the life to come (Ecclesiastes 5:14-16 and Luke 12:13-21).

Š     The beauty of our spiritual labor is that the reward is eternal (John 5:28-29 and Hebrews 6:9-12).

Š     Truthfully, in regard to working for physical gain: “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul” (Matthew 16:26)?


2. If you do a word study on the words “travail” and “exercised” (as it is used in Ecclesiastes 3:10), how does that help you to understand this verse?

The verse says: “I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it” (Ecclesiastes 3:10).


Š     Strong says the word “travail” means: “employment; business” (Strong’s # 6045).

Š     The same Hebrew word appears in Ecclesiastes 1:13, Ecclesiastes 2:23, Ecclesiastes 2:26, Ecclesiastes 3:10, Ecclesiastes 4:8, Ecclesiastes 5:3, Ecclesiastes 5:14, and Ecclesiastes 8:16.

Š     Strong says the word “exercised” means: “to depress, abase, answer for a mistake” (Strong’s # 6031).

Š     This Hebrew word appears 84 times in the Old Testament.  Outside of being translated as “exercised” (also in Ecclesiastes 1:13); it is translated as “afflict” (Genesis 15:13), “humble” (Exodus 10:3), “forced” (II Samuel 13:14), “weakened” (Psalms 102:23), etc.

Š     Therefore, the meaning of this verse is summed up here: “(17) And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; (18) Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; (19) In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:17-19).


3. While things of God may be in your heart, can you find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end?

No: “He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).


Š     God created everything beautiful (Genesis 1:31) and man is to blame for what is not right (Ecclesiastes 7:29).

Š     Here is a gem.  The word translated “world” is Strong’s # 5769.  That word means: “time out of mind; eternity”.  It is translated as “ever” (272 times), everlasting (63 times), etc.  This phrase therefore is teaching that God has place eternity in the hearts of man whom He has created (Romans 1:19-20 and Romans 2:14-15).  You just know there is the God. 

Š     While you are born with eternity in your heart, you do not have God’s knowledge (Job 11:7, Psalms 104:24, and Romans 11:33-36).


4. Should we be able to rejoice [be glad] in this life?

Yes: “I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life” (Ecclesiastes 3:12).


Š     Psalms 144:15, Proverbs 3:13, Proverbs 15:15, Proverbs 17:22, and I Peter 4:14.


5. Should we enjoy the good of our labors?

Yes: “And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God” (Ecclesiastes 3:13).


Š     Psalms 128:2, Ecclesiastes 2:24, Ecclesiastes 5:18-20, and I Timothy 6:17.


6. If God so chooses, can He make something to last as long as He wants it to?

Yes: “I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him” (Ecclesiastes 3:14).


Š     We have to reason out that this does not mean that everything He makes is eternal, for He has made some things to be temporary (Matthew 24:35-36 and II Peter 3:10-14).

Š     That being said, if He wants something to be everlasting, nobody can change that (Proverbs 19:21, Isaiah 46:10, and John 19:10-11).

Š     This should cause fear (Psalms 64:9, Hebrews 10:26-31, and Revelation 15:4).


7. Does history repeat itself?

Yes: “That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past” (Ecclesiastes 3:15).


Š     Ecclesiastes 1:9-10; cf. II Peter 2:1 and Jude 7-8.


Index Of Old Testament Studies


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