Ecclesiastes 3:15-22

Ecclesiastes 3:15

That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.


Although the implements of life are different in each generation, the same sinful mindset which was in the past is now in the present.  The future generations will be no different as they will have the same sinful mindset by succession that is present today.  Also the eternal purpose of God will be the same in future generations as they have been in the past.  That which is past will be required of God.  The word “requireth” carries with it the meaning of “make inquisition or inquire.”  In other words, those things which man has done in their individual lives in the past and can never be rectified will be examined at the judgment seat of Christ.  Those works whether they be evil or good works will be judged.  Good works without salvation are normally done to the glory of the person doing it and that means a certain pride about their achievements that it was all of them and they will give account for their actions as well as motives.


Ecclesiastes 3:16

And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.


Then Solomon begins to question even the place of government and how corrupt it is and can become.  The place where people come to seek justice is also loaded with wickedness and creates a bias toward the one the judge or magistrate is favoring either by bribe or by friendship.  Then he looks at the place of righteousness which could be the temple and even in that holy place he saw corruption or iniquity.  We see this today in the church where righteousness is supposed to prevail.  Too many leaders only seek notoriety and wealth taken from donations.  The church should be the place where righteousness prevails but in most cases it is where iniquity prevails.  We expect these two institutions to be on the upright but they are not.  What Solomon was discovering was the total depravity of man, no matter where man is, iniquity is also present.


Ecclesiastes 3:17

I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.


God shall judge the righteous and the wicked.  The righteous were judged in Christ at Calvary when he went to the cross to pay for the sins of his people.  {13} And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;  {14} Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;  (Colossians 2:13-14)  The righteous in Christ were judged and found not guilty.  Then the wicked shall be judged at the last day at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:  (Matthew 25:41) The last phrase in this verse speaks about the fact that there is going to be a time when the works and the intentions of the unsaved men are going to be judged at the last day.  Notice the word used is “there.”  Just as there was time and purpose in the world for every single thing, there will be a time of judgment for those actions.


Ecclesiastes 3:18

I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts.


Then Solomon speaks to himself that God may bring out the true nature of man by allowing them to progress in their wicked works.  Even though God has endowed man with the ability to think, yet they act no better than the beasts of the field.  Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:  (Ephesians 4:18)  Since sin has taken man over, their understanding of life and their own actions has been darkened and that means instead of acting out of righteousness, they act out of evil which results them devouring one another and always being at enmity with each other even though they might smile to each other.  Solomon is hoping that men see their real nature in action.


Ecclesiastes 3:19

For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.


The terrible penalty for man’s sin in the Garden of Eden is that physical death is fallen upon all both beasts and man.  All the animals and man have physical breathe and all must breathe to live which means in this sphere both the beasts of the field and man have that same breath of life.  Man may think he is superior to the beast but in the end both die the same way and this means that all of life is just vanity.


Ecclesiastes 3:20

All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.


Whenever the human body dies or the body of an animal, decomposition begins immediately and that is why burial must take place.  We were all made from dust and to dust we return because this was the penalty pronounced by God to Adam and also to the human race until the last day.  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 3:19) 


Ecclesiastes 3:21

Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?


What is in view here is we can physically see the dead body of a human or an animal but what is invisible to the eye is the departure of the spirit.  In the spiritual realm the spirits of the animal and man are different.  The spirit dies with the animal and they just cease to exist.  Animals do not go to Heaven or to hell.  In the case of the human, the soul of man is gone back to God.  In the case of the redeemed of God, they go into Heaven and those who are unsaved are raised at the last day and brought before the Judgment Seat of Christ to be judged and then sentenced to eternal damnation.


Ecclesiastes 3:22

Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?


Since man only has the capability of seeing what is visible in this world, he might as well enjoy the fruits of his labor in this world for those he can see.  That is his portion or his inheritance from all his works on earth.  There is no one who can come back from the dead to see what would be happening to all his estate which he left behind and to others.  Even while a person is living they would have no knowledge of what would happen to their estate never mind after they are dead.