The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises. The wind blows to the south and goes around to the north; around and around goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns. All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again. All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us. There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to be among those who come after (Eccl 1:5-11 ESV).
I taught earth science years ago, and my favorite topic was running water, including rivers, streams, flooding, etc. I used to show a video about the power of running water, and our efforts to control it. The movie focused on the Mississippi River, which if left completely up to ‘nature’ would take a faster path to the Gulf of Mexico. Specifically, the course of the River would shift and follow the higher gradient route down the Atchafalaya River.
There are control structures in place, which keep a certain ratio of flow between the two rivers, to ensure that the Mississippi does not change course. The reason for this is to preserve the Port of New Orleans and the economic activity related to the city. Scientists must keep a close watch on the River’s flow patterns and open and close gates in the control structure to keep the flow split at a constant ratio. However, the flow monitoring was not always so frequent. In the 1970s, the control structure was damaged by a flood, as the Mississippi tried to change course despite our best efforts (at the time) to control it.
If you look a the historical courses of the Mississippi River, you will notice that its course has been naturally altered many times. In fact, this is how Lake Ponchartrain and the area of New Orleans were formed in the first place – from sediment deposits that occurred as the River changed courses.
Some scientists believe that we are overdue for another course change for the Mississippi, and that it may still occur despite our best efforts to control the flow of the River. I agree with this hypothesis, and suspect that at some point in the future, the Mississippi River will change courses, no matter what we do to stop it.
As much as I enjoy studying the earth’s systems, we certainly do not have a complete knowledge of how all of nature works. As we all know from weather predictions and even hurricane tracking, meteorology is not an exact science! Scientists do the best they can, but it is impossible to fully comprehend the intricacies involved.
I think that leads us to weariness of some sort… We, as humans, like to know how everything works; we like to understand our world to the fullest. However, that isn’t always possible. We cannot describe the mechanisms for many natural phenomena. We don’t understand how God created the earth to exist in a state of equilibrium, as these verses describe. We don’t even fully understand the extent that our neglect and abuse have on the earth.
We cannot, with any degree of certainty, predict what will happen in the future and/or when it will happen…. so, we are left with no choice but to put our trust in God.
I find it interesting that people find the Bible to be outdated and not current with the times. But, if you really consider history, it is true that “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun (Eccl 1:9).” The Bible is just as relevant as it’s always been, maybe even more relevant, since we can see how the truth in Old Testament prophecies have come to light.