SCRIPTURE ECCLESIASTES 3:1-15
I have always been musically inclined, from a small boy pretending to direct the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in front of my parent’s radio that rested 4-ft. high on the floor in the 1940’s to singing in choirs in elementary school and then in church choirs as an adult.
So in preparing for this study in Ecclesiastes, a tune began playing on my memory’s turntable of a 1961 classic Marty Robbins song: A Time And A Place For Everything [See Footnote [i] ].
There’s a time and a place for everything
So let’s pretend we’re not blue.
There’s a time and a place for everything
Someday our dreams will come true.
A TIME FOR EVERYTHING UNDER THE SUN –
We Christians tend to sing happy songs about God, and His blessings, and His goodness, and our relationship with Him.
I like happy songs; I’m in favor of happy songs. The world’s songs, on the other hand, are often not so happy. Even the ones that sound HAPPY and peppy are often not so happy when you listen carefully to the lyrics.
ECCLESIASTES sounds more like popular music today than the happy Christian songs we tend to sing.
We need to be careful. Sometimes it is really easy for us to enter into a Christian cocoon. Christian music, Christian friends, Christian decorations for our homes, and we even speak “Christianise”, as a pastor once mentioned in a Sunday message.
Now I’m very much in favor of all these things…but there’s a DANGER if we become so isolated that our message, even our lives, become irrelevant to the world around us in which we are to be salt and light. We have to be careful we don’t become so isolated, so deaf to the regular questions of living and struggles of life without God, that we become MUTE to our neighbors and coworkers and families.
IN THESE TIMES…
More and more people are struggling to keep their heads above a rising tide of PESSIMISM about future prospects. Of course, there are exceptions from a handful of optimists, predicting a better and brighter tomorrow. Still, the larger portion of humanity is less convinced.
A hundred years ago [in the “modern era”], FAITH in human reason and progress was probably at an all-time high. TODAY, it [seems] as low as ever with growing doubts whether the world can ever solve its problems on its own.
ECCLESIASTES speaks to this condition.
It expresses the intense disappointment that people feel when they realize, “Life should be better, but it isn’t.”
There is a classic rock tune that was released a year after I was married. The group, The Byrds, in 1965, came out with “Turn, Turn, Turn” – YouTube has the original recording if you want to listen. Apart from the title, all the other words in these lyrics were pulled directly from Ecclesiastes 3. 52 years ago, the Byrds understood that these words in ECCLESIASTES would resonate with the regular people.
 There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven;  A time to be born…and a time to die.
Of these fourteen couplets…the FIRST THREE are along the same lines:
- Born – Die
- Plant – Uproot
- Kill – Heal
We ALL have a time to DIE.
I know this isn’t a popular subject but try as we might to deny it, ignore it, avoid it, put it off…these lives as we know them, in these bodies, will come to an end. We ALL have a time to die, We just don’t know when that is.
Well, actually, we can know if we’d just visit http://www.deathclock.com. Out of curiosity, I visited and answered a few simple questions and found out “Your time has expired.”
The good news in all of this is the actual timing of my life here on earth is known only by God!
ECCLESIASTES 3:1-4 – New English Translation ( NET Bible)
A Time for All Events in Life
3 For everything, there is an appointed time, and an appropriate time for every activity on earth;
- A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot what was planted.
- A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and time to build up.
- A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
The TEXT says that there IS a time and a season for everything!
EVERYTHING, a full rich life with all kinds of experiences, a robust life, lived fully.
It seems to me the trick is to get the TIMING right. We sometimes seem to get things backward and we’re doing the opposite of what we should be doing.
When you say “time” to a musician, I think in terms of RHYTHM. There is something wonderful about locking into a groove.
LIFE ought to be like that…A RHYTHM to die… But get that RHYTHM OUT OF SYNC, it becomes like clapping on the wrong beat. We get out of sync. When we should be PLANTING Encouragement and UPROOTING Discouragement, we get out of SYNC and do it the other way around.
When we ought to be putting to DEATH our old, rotten, selfish ways and nursing RIGHTEOUSNESS and HEALTH in our lives, we get out of SYNC and do it the other way around, killing righteousness and nursing back to health our rotten sinful ways.
We LAUGH at what’s disgusting and evil when we should WEEP.
So, when should we DANCE?
Here’s an idea: Believe we can get ‘circumstantially’ out of rhythm in life. For an example, this very CIRCUMSTANCE: CHURCH.
When we are together reflecting on and our singing about God’s goodness and greatness, we probably ought to DANCE, but some of us seem habitually out of SYNC and rather MOURN in church instead (at least the look on our faces seem mournful).
FOURTEEN COUPLETS OF POLAR OPPOSITES…and each has a time.
Some Bible commentators say that the numbers here of 14 couplets (7x2x2) is a significant indication of COMPLETENESS. From BIRTH to DEATH and everything in between. ALL of it intentional…ALL of it work!
AND NO, IT’S NOT YET TIME FOR ME TO BE SILENT (v. 7).
Our country is torn today in regard to whether this is a time for PEACE. The TEXT brings back to this rhetorical question seen before in Ecclesiastes. “In the grand scheme of things, what good is all the toil?”
HERE, THERE IS AN ANSWER: “GOD HAS GIVEN US A BURDEN (TASK, CALLING, WORK) AND HE HAS MADE IT BEAUTIFUL (OR GOOD) IN ITS TIME” [VERSE 11].
The verse continues and explains that it’s God who put ETERNITY in our hearts, our soul and spirit, a longing to know something beyond time in this life, in this world, and in these bodies.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 (b): “…yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
When, all is said, we only have a spark of eternity in our hearts; we cannot fully comprehend ETERNITY.
So, when you get right down to it, IT IS A GIFT OF GOD–
- WE HONOR GOD BY ENJOYING THE GIFT HE GIVES US
- WE HONOR GOD BY LIVING LIFE TO THE FULLEST AND BEING SATISFIED WITH HIS GIFT!
This becomes a reminder that God’s SOVEREIGNTY is powerful:
Ecclesiastes 3:14 (AMP)
 I know that whatever God does, it endures forever; nothing can be added to it nor taken from it, And God does it so that men will [reverently] fear Him [revere and worship Him, knowing that He is].
It reminds us that any part we have in ETERNITY comes from our being in step with God; our soul’s attitude is in alignment towards Him with the help of the Holy Spirit in our life. We are reminded that we are neither puppet nor parasite. We are not merely running in program mode that’s set in place by a grand puppet master.
And…we’re not without resource to add or subtract from our lives and enjoyment.
We are invited to join God in His work, not adding nor taking from His work, but joining Him.
So, what exactly can we take from this PASSAGE of SCRIPTURE?
I know what I came away with, you, maybe something else. It seems clear that the passage, like all of Ecclesiastes, meant to make think to ourselves. It’s meant to call us to a REALITY CHECK.
We are called to wrestle with out humanity, this fallen world around us, and what God has to say about it.
It’s all about LIFE in a fallen world. ECCLESIASTES says we can deny it, fight it, hide from it, even try to make sense of it. BUT…we can’t escape it! The only response is to LIVE IN IT one day at a time, fearing God and cherishing as best as we can the STUFF of which life is made–food, family, work and not in that order. These are GIFTS of God’s hand.
So we are to ENJOY THE GIFTS God gives us.
We WORSHIP Him by living abundant, robust, even happy lives.
We examine ourselves and the rhythm of our lives.
We should ask ourselves, honestly, are we honoring God by living full lives well? Are we treating this GIFT OF TIME as a PRECIOUS GIFT? Are we living in Relationship with God, or are we working for ourselves…which ends in VANITY, meaninglessness?
More importantly than asking ourselves…let’s ask our Heavenly Father. Let’s be open to God, through His Holy Spirit, to speak to us, revealing where we can LIVE more fully and thus honor God. And let us RELY on Holy Spirit to GUIDE, and STRENGTHEN and give us COURAGE,
Now it’s normal, I believe, when we stop and think along these lines, to have REGRETS…to wish we had done some things differently, to have different priorities over time. BUT the GIFT we have right now, THE GIFT OF TIME, we are enjoying today and will enjoy tomorrow. YESTERDAY is gone!
So where different priorities are often called for, we’ll need to make a FRESH START today! I’m going to, will you?
Footnote [i] : There’s A Time And A Place For Everything – songwriters Benny Joy Edidson – Published By – Unichappell Music, Inc., Elvis Presley Music.
Photos: Google Image, Advance Search Setting.
Bible Translations: New International Version NIV), unless otherwise stated.