By David R. Ferguson
A few years ago I came across an exquisite piece of property in rural Coles County not far from Mattoon that’s as lovely as any park one could find. It was at this spot I snapped a photo of a tree lying down upon the ground. As I stood there, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the following verse from Solomon.
In the Book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon writes, “If the clouds are full of rain, they empty themselves on the earth, and if a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where the tree falls, there it will lie” (Ecclesiastes 11:3 [ESV]).
There’s an ancient Chinese proverb that is very similar to this which goes, “As a tree falls, so shall it lie.” Since God is the Author of all truth – in fact, Jesus says He is “the Truth” in John 14:6 – then it’s reasonable to conclude that this proverb is an eternal truth God chose to reveal to mankind because of the invaluable message it brings. You see, the message God wants us to learn in these proverbs is that the choices we make in this life are important because it’s those choices which will determine where we will spend eternity. It’s a message sharper than any two-edged sword, a message of hope for those who have come to Christ in obedient, saving faith, but a message of doom that should cause any outside of Christ to shudder.
The abode of God is depicted as being in the north throughout Scripture. As Elihu stated in Job 37:22 [RSV], “Out of the north comes golden splendor; God is clothed with terrible majesty.” David also writes in Psalm 48:1-2 [RSV], 1GREAT IS the Lord and greatly to be praised in the city of our God! His holy mountain, 2beautiful in elevation, is the joy of all the Earth, Mount Zion, in the far north, the city of the great King. Finally, we have depicted in Isaiah 14:12-14 [RSV] how Satan sought to take the place of God upon His throne located in the north: 12 “How you are fallen from Heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! 13 You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to Heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far north; 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will make myself like the Most High.’” Satan sought to elevate himself first over all the other Angels who are depicted in this passage as the “stars of God” before attempting to usurp the very power of God Whose throne resides in the “far north”.
So the message of Ecclesiastes 11:3 above is this: If you are in rebellion when you die and fall “to the south,” you will remain in rebellion and punished throughout eternity for your rebellion when you fall, meaning when you die. The converse is also true as well. If you die and fall “to the north,” meaning you remained “faithful unto death” (Revelation 2:10 [RSV]) to Jesus Christ your Savior, then you will remain in the Presence of God forever. You’ll be blessed to receive “the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10 [RSV]):
“Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12 [RSV]). Only those faithful souls will be given the “crown of righteousness.”
“Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the Righteous Judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8 [RSV]).
So which way will you fall, and where will you spend eternity? The choice is yours!