2017 is history. The year has gone and is but a memory. Things about this year are still remembered – not all, but some. Still, nothing can be changed about 2017. Words cannot be withdrawn or re-spoken. They can be repented of, but what is said, is said. Actions cannot be redone; they are past. Deeds are just as they were performed, unalterable. No wonder the wise king says, “All is vanity.
What does “vanity really mean? Variously it connotes brevity and a lack of permanence; the moment comes and the moment passes. Vanity is a breath, a vapor, like the warm breath from your lungs on a bitterly cold day condensing before you in a small visible cloud, and then, poof, it is gone.
The enactment of any moment may seem like a lifetime when in the midst of it, but in the larger context of continually-moving-forward-life, the moments passed are just a vapor. Even considering the course of one’s entire life effort to produce something concrete and permanent, one generational life span of work is still but a tiny, quickly fading blip on the radar screen of human history.
Who remembers another’s life effort as the centuries pass? History records a little bit of it momentarily, but even history is changed in its interpretation. The meaning, the emphases, the character is revised into something it was not.
Who remembers then? God does! Who records accurately? God does! Who holds the words spoken, the deeds done, good or bad, with the thorough judgment of each? God does! No one else is able, no one else is capable, no one else is just, no one else is merciful. God takes what is vanity, what is vapor, and writes truth or lies, justice or injustice, forgiveness or judgment upon it.
King Solomon, after rendering everything as vanity, asks what is the end, the conclusion, of all this. The answer: Live fearing God and keeping His commandments, for this is the entire duty assigned to you. For God will judge everything – every deed, every word, every intention, every secret thing. His mercy is your salvation, and His justice is done to perfection; justice alone will slay you, mercy redeems. It is the only permanence rising above vanity.
God provides sanity to life. He is the One who gives purpose and meaning to living. All is vanity apart from the God who creates, who judges, who redeems. He gives the reason for being; He Himself is the reason to be!
2017 a vapor? In the end that is a mercy. But what should be preserved of your 2017 will be in accord with fearing God and keeping His commandments. I do not think you really want anything else retained.
“A thousand ages in thy sight are like an evening gone, short as the watch that ends the night before the rising sun.
The busy tribes of flesh and blood, with all their lives and cares, are carried downwards by the flood and lost in foll’wing years.
O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, be thou are guard while troubles last and our eternal home.
(verses 5, 6, and 9 of Isaac Watts’ hymn “O God, Our Help in Ages Past, 1719)
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