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Time and Chance

September 27, 2009

Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes that time and chance happen to everyone. He also points out that death is the great equalizer. What is left? He says that all is vanity, except to live righteously before God and to enjoy each days simple pleasures of food, drink, and family.

Bernie Parsons

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Time and Chance


By Bernie Parsons


Presented to Load church of Christ on 09-27-2009


Ecclesiastes 9:9: “Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.

10: Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

11: I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

12: For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.”


Solomon, to whom the Ecclesiastes are generally attributed, decided, after much investigation and contemplation, that the best thing that we can do is to enjoy life with our spouse for life, as long as we live.


Furthermore, it is a good thing to apply ourselves diligently to the work before us while we have time and opportunity, for our life expires and our chances to work expire with it.


He also said that the fastest runner does not always win the race, nor does the strong always win the battle, the wise does not always get enough to eat, nor do riches always come to the well-educated and experienced man.


Rather, time and chance happen to everyone. Timing and opportunity have as much to do with life as do all of the other attributes that men desire and pursue. Additionally, time takes its toll on all of us, eventually.


We do not know how long a life we are given, nor when that life will end. Many of us think that we have several years to come, but there is no assurance of that. I remember that my oldest brother told me just this past April that he felt that he had three more good years in him. In July, he fell, struck his head, and never came back from the hospital.


Ecclesiastes 2:14: “The wise man's eyes are in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness: and I myself perceived also that one event happeneth to them all.

15: Then said I in my heart, As it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me; and why was I then more wise?  Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity.

16: For there is no remembrance of the wise more than of the fool for ever; seeing that which now is in the days to come shall all be forgotten.  And how dieth the wise man?  as the fool.”


As Solomon continued his inspection of life and what it has to offer, he concluded that that the same things happen to the fool as to the wise man. After we die, the majority of us are not remembered beyond two generations at the most. Very few names and deeds are kept alive for much of history.


Ecclesiastes 8:12: “Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him:

13: But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth not before God.

14: There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there be just men, unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again, there be wicked men, to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also is vanity.

15: Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun.”


Sometimes extremely wicked men live long lives, which does not seem right to us. Yet, God looks after those who fear Him and serve Him righteously. He will do right by us, even if that does not include a long life. But even the wicked must die eventually, as do we all.


Hebrews 9:27: “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:”


God does send the sun and the rain to both the righteous and the wicked.


Matthew 5:43: “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

44: But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

45: That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

46: For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

47: And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

48: Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”


The lives of the righteous are not always smooth sailing, and easy street, nor do the wicked always suffer what we might consider appropriately for the deeds they do. That is not our desire or function. God will deal with the wicked. Our job is to love everyone, pray for everyone, and do good to everyone. This demonstrates the spiritual maturity of the children of God.


Luke 13:1: “There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.

2: And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things?

3: I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

4: Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?

5: I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”


Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”


As Jesus pointed out to His disciples, it is not correct to assume that because some disaster befell someone, that they were worse sinners. All of us have sinned and come short of the glory of God. If we do not repent, listening to, and obeying, God, we will all perish along with the most wicked sinners that we have ever known.


1 Peter 3:10: “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:

11: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.

12: For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.

13: And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?

14: But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;”


Time and chance happens to everyone, but we can do things that are conducive to a longer life. For instance, if we watch the company we keep, keep our minds off of wickedness and how it is accomplished, treat our neighbors well, seek peace with all men, and always tell the truth, our chances of living longer will be greatly increased.


For instance, it only makes sense to look both directions before crossing a busy intersection, and then not stepping into oncoming traffic that is moving. That helps your chances at surviving, but does not assure it. What if someone runs the red light as you enter the intersection? What if someone loses control of their vehicle and comes onto the sidewalk where you are standing? Time and chance happens to everyone.


Drive defensively. Avoid food that may be contaminated. Wash your hands after being in public, or being around sick people. Avoid being around sick people, if possible. These types of behavior enhance your chances of survival. As Jesus said, don’t temp God!


Matthew 4:1: “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

2: And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.

3: And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

4: But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

5: Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,

6: And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

7: Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

8: Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

9: And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

10: Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”


Don’t tempt God! Yes, He can save you, but He may just choose to let you go!


On the other hand, live righteously to the end, because we know that all of us must stand before the judgment seat of God. We shall give account of the deeds done while in this body.


The first Christians were told:


2 Corinthians 5:10: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”


Revelation 2:10: “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”


Time and chance happens to all. The important thing is to be ready at all times, because none of us know when our lives shall be required. Live each and every day for the Lord!



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