The Endless Cycle
A daily devotion for February 2nd
4 Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.
5 The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.
6 The wind blows to the south
and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
ever returning on its course.
7 All streams flow into the sea,
yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
there they return again.
Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. (Ecclesiastes 1:4)
The Searcher's theme is stated in verse 4: Humanity is transient, but nature is permanent. A generation comes and a generation goes—the human race passes on from this life, comes into life, lives its term, and goes on—but the earth remains forever.
He has three proofs for this, the first of which is the circle of the sun. The sun rises in the east; runs across the heavens, apparently; and sets in the west. Then it scurries around the dark side of the earth while we are sleeping, and there it is in the east again in the morning. That cycle has been going on as long as time has been measured, as far back as we can read in human history. It is endless; it continually repeats itself.
Then he speaks of the circuit of the winds. This is unusual, because we have no evidence that people in Solomon's time understood scientifically the fact that the wind, the clouds, and the great jet streams of earth run in circles. This is evident to us in our day because we can see from a satellite picture in any news broadcast the great circles of the winds. I do not know how they knew this back then. But Solomon knew it, though the scientific world of that day did not seem to understand it.
His third proof is the circuit of the evaporative cycle. Where does all the water that endlessly drops out of the sky come from? The answer, of course, is that it comes from the ocean. An invisible evaporative process is at work by which the water that runs into the sea never raises the level of the sea because there is an invisible raising of that water back up into the clouds. These clouds then move east by the circuit of the winds and drop their moisture again, and this goes on forever.
The writer is suggesting that there is something wrong in this. It is backwards, somehow. Humans ought to be permanent, and nature ought to be transient. There is something within all of us that says this. We feel violated that we learn all these great lessons from life, but just as we have begun to learn how to handle life it is over, and the next generation has to start from scratch again.
The Scripture confirms that something is wrong. The Bible tells us that people were created to be the crown of creation. They are the ones who are in dominion over all things. People ought to last endlessly and nature ought to be changing, but it is the other way around. Humans feel the protest of this in their spirit. Something is wrong that all of this is suddenly taken away from us, while the meaningless cycle of nature goes on and on endlessly. Yes, the human spirit feels that strongly. That pertinent question is going to be developed in the theme of this book.
Lord, as I look around and see the endless cycles of nature, I feel my own transitoriness. Thank You for that fuller revelation that in Christ, who conquered death, I have the hope of eternal life.
Life Application: Solomon sagely ponders why we strive, often desperately, to prolong our lives forever? Is something backwards in our human existence?
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