From Ecclesiastes 1-4
Ecclesiastes is very similar to Proverbs in some respects. The material wanders around a bit. Overall it questions the purpose of life. Life is vain, without purpose. People live and die. There is nothing else. These points are depressing. Because the content of Ecclesiastes is depressing, its easy I think to move on too quickly to God and eternity when reading Ecclesiastes without first really engaging with what Solomon says. We are meant to question the significance of our lives. Perhaps we are meant to see ourselves and what we do in a smaller light. Today’s passage is well known. Its quite moving and talks about the different seasons of life.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
3 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. (Ec 3:1-8)
Which of these seasons have you experienced in your life?
Solomon’s set of ‘seasons’ is fairly comprehensive. They pertain to people’s lifetimes, agriculture, war, construction, emotions, organisation, social interaction, searching, possessions, tailoring, speech, emotions and war again.
Solomons point is to recognise the place of each of these ‘under the sun’. In this world, under God’s control. Not all of the seasons are happy times. Some the LORD will put an end to at when he returns. But they have their place in our world and in our lives.
By putting them in their place, Solomon reduces their significance. Brings comfort to the hurting, brings down the joy of those who are celebrating. Tells those involved in war and conflict these times will pass. Life in the world will go on.
9 What gain has the worker from his toil? 10 I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. (Ec 3:9-11)
Solomon says people work and do not always enjoy the fruit of their labours. God has given them tasks. Tasks which his workers do not gain from. Still Solomon recognises the beauty of what God has made. Even more.
He has put eternity into man’s heart.
The point I think he is making is that every man seeks and yearns for knowledge of God. ‘He cannot find out what God has done’. Knowledge of what he has done from beginning to end. God’s works and deeds bring glory to his name. We have this hunger. We has an ache in our hearts. Will it ever be satisfied?
12 I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; 13 also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man. (Ec 3:12-13)
While he questions to meaning and purpose of life, Solomon still recognises life has many pleasures. He is a hedonist. Why not be happy if you can?
God wants us to be joyful because he loves us.
14 I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. 15 That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away. (Ec 3:14–15)
Still thinking about the works and deeds of the LORD, Solomon recognises the LORD’s work is true and permanent. It will not change. People respect the unchangeable (immutable) nature of God (Num 23:19; 1 Sam 15:29; Ps 102:26; Mal 3:6; 2 Tim 2:13; Heb 6:17–18; Jam 1:17).
The last verse is curious. A repetition. The future has already occurred, it will happen again and again. What has been driven away, God seeks. It will happen again.
Story of Jesus
Solomon says, ‘For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven’. We all experience different seasons in life. Jesus recognised there would be different seasons in life. Even so, regardless of where we are, he warned us to prepare for his return. When he does people will be living their lives. Experiencing different periods and seasons in their life. But then everything will change.
36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left.
42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 47 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 48 But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know 51 and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Mt 24:36–51)
We dont know when it will be or the kind of season in which it will happen. In good and bad times. Be ready.
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