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From the editor: "Where the tree falleth . . ." (Eccl 11.3)

J Grant

The preacher who was the author of the book of Ecclesiastes (1.1) is identified as the son of David, and doubtless this was Solomon. He it was who reigned as "king in Jerusalem". It is generally considered that he wrote the Song of Songs when he was young and that he wrote this book as an older man who had seen all sides of life in his varied career. Wisdom, wealth, regal dignity, and authority had been his, but sadly he had turned away from his God who had given him so much. Throughout his life, nevertheless, he had continued to be a shrewd observer of the behaviour of others, and the lessons he had learned are placed in this book for our profit.

Let us look at the background to the chapter before we consider the fallen tree. The readers are exhorted to be active and not slothful, to be given to liberality (vv.1-3) and to labour (vv.4-8). This is not only a general exhortation of how days must be spent. It has particular relevance to serving God. Never to be forgotten is the fact that God will bring all into judgment; He will declare His verdict on our lives (v.9).

The assertion, found in 11.3, seems to be so obvious that we may wonder why he has included it. "In the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be" is such a clear statement of fact that it causes us to pause to consider the significance of his words. No matter the reason for the tree’s fall, the text does indicate without doubt that it could not be raised again.

The preacher has been contemplating some of the principles which govern our actions and their effect. Bread cast upon the waters shall be found after many days. We are encouraged to give a portion to seven and also to eight "for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth" (v.2). Unselfish actions are encouraged. This is in keeping with the character of God. If the clouds be full of rain they empty themselves upon the earth as a sign of the bountiful giving of God and, as His servants, we ought to follow His example. The believer looks with confidence to the Judgment Seat of Christ where rewards will be given for every action that pleased Him.

But what connection has this with a tree falling? Is it not that an act which, once it has been performed, cannot be undone? How we behave is not only known in heaven, but is recorded there. With every day that passes we have difficulties, worries, opportunities, temptations, and challenges. How do we meet them? How do we react in the face of them all? Sometimes we look back and regret the missed opportunities, the explosion of anger, the failure to resist temptation, the days when our trust in the Lord was at a low point. At other times we may have behaved wisely in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord. Although the Adversary has suggested to us that what we propose to do is wasting time or resources, we have ignored him. Where the tree fell there it lay. These actions cannot be changed, these days cannot be re-lived.

We must, however, be mindful that for any day not only have the actions performed during that day "fallen", but also that we have no idea how many days we have been left to serve. We do not know when the tree will fall, not at the end of a specific act, but at the end of our serving days. Just like every action, a life of service will face its end. The days, months, and years cannot be given again to us. What we did with them has been recorded, and, when they end, where the tree has fallen there it will be.

Let us, therefore, view every situation through which we pass in that light. We are given countless opportunities to act in a way that will bring reward, and the Lord, in His grace, will be pleased to bestow it. With this in view He gives the opportunities, and we ought to grasp them remembering that where the tree has fallen there it will be, as we stand before Him. Every action, every thought will lie where it fell and cannot be moved.

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