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Ecclesiastes Chapter Three

God's Clock, God's Symphony

(Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 NIV) There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: {2} a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, {3} a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, {4} a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, {5} a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, {6} a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, {7} a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, {8} a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. {9} What does the worker gain from his toil? {10} I have seen the burden God has laid on men. {11} He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

God's Clock, God's Symphony

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven."Life is like music. First there is timing; piano teachers have a metronome on top of their pianos which accurately mark the beat. Then there is the "seasons" or the score of the music with its notation "now soft, now loud, now fast, now slow...this note here, this chord there..". In our lives there is the metronome of the years and the music score of the events those years contain. Our lives are God's symphony of many movements and each thing has its season. Ecclesiastes says of God's clock"He has made everything beautiful in its time."Even grief and war and death can be beautiful in their appropriate places. Now the "score" is not at all obvious. You see the tune comes from Eternity."He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end."

These verses point out that its not what we do as much as when we do it. Birth and death, planting and uprooting have their place in life. However if we uproot when we should be planting then we cause harm. All activities have their place under heaven. All notes have their place in a symphony. At the right time. Out of time they jar our nerves.

I wonder how much of the frantic pace of modern life can be laid at the feet of people losing touch with God's clock and God's symphony? We find ourselves throwing away what we should be keeping or loving what we should hate or cherishing what we should kill. There are things the Christian should "hate" and reject. Sin, greed and corruption are among them. There are things we should "put to death" and not cherish at all. Lust, immorality and passion are among them. Jesus lived perfectly in the timing of God. Lest just take one example:"There is a time to be born and a time to die."Jesus was born "in the fullness of time" (Gal 4:4) and at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Gal 5:6)

How can we live according to God's clock and as part of God's symphony?

Firstly don't worry, fret or be anxious. Most of our disasters are due to impatience and anxiety."(Psalms 37:8 NRSV) Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath. Do not fret--it leads only to evil."

Secondly spend time in prayer and get in touch with the tunes of Eternity. After a while you will sense the rhythm of God's purposes and be able to harmonize with them.

Thirdly accept that your destiny may be very different from "normal". You may be like Noah building an ark in the midst of a world deaf to God. Go ahead anyway.

Fourthly - pursue love in accordance with the Scriptures. Love is from God for God is love. Love is the melody line of Heaven. We need to study the Bible and be challenged by its ethics and its imperatives if our love is to grow into something more than a good sentiment. Love based on Scripture grows into the grand wonderful agape love that is the tune of Heaven.

Lastly look around you at the works of God and get a sense of what the Father is doing and go and join in.(John 5:19-20 NIV) Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. {20} For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these.

Lets stop and pray before we continue...

"Lord of Heaven, enable us to know Your timing in all things. Make our life like that of Jesus with every element in its right place and time. You have set eternity in our hearts Lord and we cannot be satisfied with the clatter, rush, and hurry of this world. May Your grace make our lives gracious. Amen."

Our Need For Revelation

(Ecclesiastes 3:12-22 NIV) I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. {13} That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil--this is the gift of God. {14} I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him. ... {17} I thought in my heart, "God will bring to judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time for every deed." {18} I also thought, "As for men, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. {19} Man's fate is like that of the animals;... {20} All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. {21} Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?" {22} So I saw that there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work, because that is his lot. For who can bring him to see what will happen after him?

Unaided reason can lead us to certain likely conclusions about God and morality. For Solomon these conclusions included universal judgment of the righteous and the wicked and that the works of God are enduring. These are impressive conclusions for logic to make however they only led him to further despair and the question in verse 21"Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?"

The gospel is revealed. The death and resurrection of Christ and the hope of the believer are not things we can naturally deduce. We cannot logically work out whether or not "the spirit of man rises upward". Revelation is needed to supply the answer that those who put their trust in Jesus will certainly have eternal life.(John 3:16 NIV) "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

To be kind to Solomon he wrote in the 10th century BC well before Isaiah and Daniel and the other great prophets of the resurrection. However nearly 3000 years later we are in a different position and can confidently know the answer to His question and have no need of despair. We have the revelation of Christ as recorded in the Scriptures. Therefore we must heed it.

Solomon asks a second question in verse 22"For who can bring him to see what will happen after him?". Who else but God through the indwelling Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit is explicitly given that we might know what God has done and will do (future tense) for us:

(1 Corinthians 2:9-12 NIV) However, as it is written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him"-- {10} but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. {11} For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. {12} We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.

The Holy Spirit illumines the heart and mind of the believer and gives us some knowledge of what the future holds. Not times nor dates but the main things such as receiving a resurrection body and going to Heaven. We receive the assurance about what will happen to us after death via the Holy Spirit. His indwelling power reassures us of the goodness and love of God and testifies that we are sons of God and have eternal life. We cannot reach conclusions such as these through unaided reason alone. We need revelation. Once we receive the revelation then reason can dig deeply into it.

Some Christians write off reason as an obstacle to faith. That is not so. Reason works out what faith receives. Faith accepts the revelation, reason then works out what it means and how to operate within it. Take the Great Commission. Faith receives the revealed command that we are to take the gospel to all nations. Reason then says "we will need a boat to do that..". or "these nations are not reached yet, what can be done about it?". Reason helps us interpret Scriptures, prepare sermons and administer God's church wisely. Reason is good but reason alone in never enough. We need God's revelation in Christ.

Prayer

Lord grant that we may love You with all our minds. Create a thirst in us to know, believe and understand Your revelation in Christ Jesus. Enable us to know the right boundaries of our reason and not to be proud yet to vigorously exercise our reason in the cause of Christ and for the glory of God. Amen

 

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