Michael Barone’s Friday column was all about the fact that this political season contains virtually nothing new, but seems only to echo political seasons of the past. As I read it, Solomon’s lament that opens the book of Ecclesiastes rang through my mind:
That which has been is that which will be,
And that which has been done is that which will be done.
So there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there anything of which one might say,
“See this, it is new”?
Already it has existed for ages
Which were before us.
There is no remembrance of earlier things;
And also of the later things which will occur,
There will be for them no remembrance
Among those who will come later still.
I, the Preacher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. And I set my mind to seek and explore by wisdom concerning all that has been done under heaven. It is a grievous task which God has given to the sons of men to be afflicted with. I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind. What is crooked cannot be straightened and what is lacking cannot be counted.
I said to myself, “Behold, I have magnified and increased wisdom more than all who were over Jerusalem before me; and my mind has observed a wealth of wisdom and knowledge.” And I set my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly; I realized that this also is striving after wind. Because in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain.
While both men, Barone and Solomon, are engaged in lament I could not help but hear good news in their very accurate reflections on that which they witnessed. If there is nothing new, if the problems that plague us today are the same problems that plagued us in decades, centuries and millenia gone by, then we do not need new solutions we just need to revisit and relearn the solutions of old – they are tried and true, proven.
The problems of today are not because of new things like the Internet, they are because of a problem that dates back to the first chapters of Genesis – we have rebelled against our Creator and the problems of this world stem from our attempts to reshape it in our rebellious image rather than allow the world to flourish in God’s image. It is not our tools and entertainment, our technology and study that create our difficulties; it is who we are with those things that is the issue. Much has changed about the world, but we have not, and we are the problem.
We’ve had the answer for at least 2000 years, although I think many would argue Solomon had the answer too. We just have to set aside our rebellion against God and allow Him to recreate our hearts as He intended them to be. The solution is what it has always been – turn to Jesus. Such is the project not of a moment, but a lifetime. You would not think it was so hard to simply let God work in your life, but our rebellious nature is a powerful, powerful thing.
And it is a lesson that each generation has to learn anew for itself.
I pray today that each of us continues to learn this lesson and that we make provision to help the next generation learn it too.