The Bible verse I am looking at today reminded me of an occurrence way back in elementary school. For me that is long ago. It involved another boy who said one day, “I just can’t figure it out. Either my dad is at the shop, or he isn’t.” We thought that was kind of funny, but actually in his simple way he was making a profound statement, just like today’s verse.
The verse appears in Ecclesiastes 11:3. “If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth: and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be.” This is from the King James Version, and it is as accurate here as any translation from the original Hebrew.
The verse is quite understandable as it is and doesn’t need any explanation. I will note, however, that the verbs “to be full” and “fall” begin their respective clauses in the Hebrew, though that would sound funny in English. That places a bit of emphasis on the fact of the full clouds and the fallen tree.
I grew up in eastern Montana which usually receives too little rain. My dad used to say that the clouds were scraped dry as they came over the mountains from the west. It did seem like clouds from the west usually did not contain rain for us, while clouds from the east sometimes did. But in any case, we understood that for rain to fall, the clouds needed to be full of rain.
You have probably heard the old question: if a tree falls in the forest and no one is nearby, does the tree falling make a sound? Well, we can see that when a tree has fallen, there it is. We may not know exactly why it has fallen or what sounds it made or whether there was a strong wind. But we see where it fell, because there it is. Sometimes the fact lies directly across your path.
The point of the verse is that there are certain facts which are inevitable. And they are obvious. Regardless of what you think, they are true. You can think otherwise or believe otherwise or close your eyes, but the reality of them exists. That is absolutely stubborn.
But there are people who think otherwise in many areas of life. Some think you should be able to pile up endless financial debt, and there need be no undesirable consequences. Others think you can commit adultery and no one should be offended or get hurt by it. Still others think you should be able to cheat your way through school, and that should be a valid entrance into a lucrative career. Some even think you can eat anything you want without it affecting your health (or weight!). You can probably think of other examples.
Our computerized world doesn’t help us here. We have fantasy this and virtual that. It seems to be real, but it has an unaccountable feel to it. You can get involved in it without any real consequences except maybe time and money. (That seems almost real!)
Last spring my favorite college football team couldn’t have its annual spring game, which is basically a glorified scrimmage. So they made up for it with a virtual game. Some people maybe appreciated it, but I have to say it did not hold my interest. I didn’t watch much of it.
The Bible deals in inevitable facts. It tells you what society is like, and even heaven. Sometimes what it tells is ugly and sometimes beautiful beyond description. Amazingly, even though it presents those inevitable facts, you don’t have to believe them now. You can pretend that for you everything is otherwise. That doesn’t mean it is, of course. I said you could pretend, but I didn’t say you could pretend without certain consequences.
There’s an interesting phrase that appears frequently in the prophecy of Ezekiel. He would tell you what is going to happen, and then he would add in various appropriate ways that then the impacted people would know that the One in charge is the LORD. So you can play a variety of ‘reality’ games for a while but eventually you will be confronted by the God Who is really there. It is healthy to take notice of where the fallen tree lies.