The non-satisfied state of mankind is pictured in
restless, ever moving, non-stopping nature. Ecclesiastes begins with
this theme. The sun rises and goes down and rises and goes down
again; the wind goes in one direction and turns and blows in another
direction, only to change again; the rivers run into the sea but find no
stopping place there. In the form of vapor they leave the sea, in
the form of clouds they float over the earth, and in the form of water
they are soon rushing toward the sea again, only to repeat the process
This is a picture of mankind. All is full of
labor. The eye is not satisfied with what it sees, not is the ear
satisfied with hearing. Nothing new takes place. History is
continually repeating itself. In a measure we can forecast the
future movements of man and of nature, by knowing their past.
The writer of Ecclesiastes gave his heart to seek out by
wisdom concerning all that is done under the heavens. His verdict
is: "It is the experience of evil which God gives to the sons of
humanity to humble them by it." To know this is wisdom, indeed.
All the works that are done under the sun amount to vanity
and a feeding on wind. They all leave mankind in a non-satisfied
state. No stopping place is found. The writer of that book
obtained great wisdom. While this is good in its place, it does not
afford satisfaction. He amassed a great fortune. Even this
proved to be a diet of wind. He tried madness and folly. In
all this there was the same lack - no stopping place - no
satisfaction. He was still living in vanity, and eating wind.
The creation was subjected to vanity, Rom. 8:20. And
it has no means of eradicating itself from this state. Century after
century it moves in a circle, and after thousands of years mankind is no
nearer satisfaction by its own efforts, than were men in the days agone.
I an not denying that many worthy and useful things are
done. Construction work and other matters that help civilization are
worthy. And certainly wisdom is to be greatly appreciated. The
same is true of knowledge. These can be a great boon to
humanity. I do not want to be understood as discouraging such
things. But the point I make is, they leave something to be
desired. They leave the doer in a non-satisfied state.
If the restlessness in nature is a picture of the
restlessness in man, in the doing of material things, the latter is a
picture of man's religious life, and of the religious life of humanity as
a whole. God did not intend that Israel should find satisfaction and
perpetual rest in performing the ritual He gave the nation. There
was nothing permanent about it. The same things had to be done over
and over again and again, throughout the lifetime of each
individual. And when one came to fullness of years and looked back
he was conscious that very little had been accomplished,
religiously. No resting place had been reached.
The religion of the nations (Gentiles), was along the same
line. God did not give this religion by a public declaration.
Yet, who can doubt that He did give it? It was very similar to the
ritualism of Judaism - a constant round and grind of sacrifices and
ceremonies, year after year, with no resting place to be found. In
the Galatian letter Paul classes the Gentile ritualism with that of the
Jews. The Gentiles had turned from their own religion and had
followed Paul, afterwards they had adopted the religion of Judaism.
Paul said they had gone back to the infirm and poor elements of the
world. We know they had not turned back to Paganism. But they
had turned to something of the same nature.
The sum of what I have tried to say is, every activity,
whether in religion or otherwise, leaves man in a not-satisfied
state. He may not be dissatisfied with what he has done. But
he in conscious of something lacking in his heart and his life. This
is true even if he is performing worthy projects. It is even more
true if he turns, as Solomon did, to folly. There are those who
follow a life of frolic and revelry. They seek for one thrill after
another. None of them completely satisfies. There is an
internal loneliness and misery. Something is lacking.
Even those whom we call professional hoboes - those who
are constitutionally opposed to work - are not satisfied. These
"weary Willies" are constantly on the move, however slow.
They do not stay long in one place. In the place where they are
going there is nothing they did not have in the place they left. But
that not-satisfied state drives them on and on.
Christendom today is engaged in the treadmill of ritualism
that never has a resting place. Having adopted part of Judaism and
some of Paganism, church meetings are, in large measure, composed of one
form and ceremony after another - intended to secure either salvation or
some other blessing. But no ritualist has ever learned just where to
stop. When has he done enough to secure rest and feel secure?
He does not know. There is a feeling of uneasiness n his mind.
So the weary grind continues year after year, until he lies down to die,
and even then he in not sure he has done enough to secure salvation.
He cannot rest, either during his active years, or when he is old and
It is all the outworking of the fact that the creation was
subjected to vanity. It is the carrying out of the experience of
evil which God gives the sons of Adam, to humble them. There is rest
and ful assurance, but it is found in Christ. So long as mankind is
proud and haughty, and self trusting they will never trust Christ or find
rest in Him. They must be humbled. The experience of evil will
continue until it does this. This experience will follow some even
to the judging before the great white throne.
In Colossians is a wonderful lesson for the saint of the
present day. We are told that we are complete in Christ, chapter
2. If we are aware of our completeness in Him, it will be hard for
religionists to despoil us through philosophy or empty seduction.
The former is in accord with the traditions of man; the other in accord
with the elements of the world. Philosophy tries to find rest
without regard to religion or ritual. The elements of the world is
another name for religion. It may apply to Judaism or
Paganism. As the ritualism of Christendom is a mixture of the two,
it can well apply to the feverish and non-consummated activities of
Christendom - the grind that keeps its devotees chained to the treadmill.
Circumcision is declared in that chapter to have been
accomplished by the stripping of the flesh of Christ. This has
reference to His crucifixion, which is true circumcision. Israelites
had a bit of flesh stripped off. This should have shown them that
flesh has no standing with God. Instead, they felt proud over the
rite, and believed that they, in flesh had a standing above that of other
men. Now, that we know that even the flesh of the precious Sod of
God had to be stripped off, and in as much as we believe we ire in Him,
and that His crucifixion was our true circumcision, we can no longer have
confidence in flesh.
In the same chapter we are told that baptism has already
been performed in the death, burial and rousing of Christ. Finding
ourselves in Him, we know we have been truly baptized. We need no
If we are aware of these things, we have had the
experience of evil to an extent that we trust Christ, and find rest in
Him. We have learned that our workseven our religious workscan
never make us complete. But we do not need to make ourselves
complete, for this has been done for us.
We have learned that we are not subject to any religious
decrees. Those that the Jerusalem Council brought the Gentile
saints under, have been abrogated. They do not burden us in the
least. Knowing this, we are not concerned with doing the ritual of
Judaism, Paganism or Christendom. We regard Easter as any other
day. For us there is no new moon festival. The so-called
Christian Sabbath is not our Sabbath. We observe it as a day of
cessation from work because the State tells us to do it. But we
have found our Sabbath in Christ. The first day of the week is as
any other day to us. There is no religious prohibition concerning
foods or drinks, that we are bound to observe.
As flesh has no standing before the Lord, so are the
things produced by flesh of no importance to us, except as a matter of
convenience and physical comfort. A fine church house means
nothing. A convenient, comfortable one is welcomed by us; but in
the absence of one, we feel just as much liberty rendering service to
God under a brush arbor or out on the hillsides under the blue canopy of
the heavens. Gaudy clothing does not make one seem any nearer the
Lord. Many Saints are clad in poor raiment, but they are precious
to us. We have passed the point where we delight in parading that
which is seen. We thank God for it. In the matter of
devotion we have found a stopping place in Christ. We rest in Him,
while we render homage to Him and to the Father. For us the
treadmill of ritualism does not exist. We have been humbled, and
henceforth we want to abide in and enjoy Him who is our Completeness.
The experience of evil will continue until it has
disgusted man with all his efforts to save himself. As I have
said, with some this will not be true until the day of the great white
throne judgment. But it will take place. And, in due time,
the grace of God, through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, will save
all, and the entire human family will find rest and peace in Christ, the