Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, February 17, 2020 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

After the Teacher spent basically the first two chapters of Ecclesiastes deciding that many things are meaningless when simply looked at from the world’s perspective, he changes gears a bit here. Today’s passage of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is likely familiar to anyone who grew up with the music of the 1960s, as it was made popular with this song by The Byrds.

But while it seems that this passage may be a little different than the rest of the book, it is still connected to the main theme. While the things of this earth may be meaningless on their own, when we do things in God’s timing, then everything has the meaning and purpose that God intended for it.

The theme of this section is found in verse 1: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” We may not understand the timing of everything, as God is God and we are not, but we can trust in these words that God has the proper timing and season for everything; we just need to discern what it is.

In the rest of this passage, the Teacher outlines specific examples of things that God has in His timing. Birth and death are mentioned first (verse 2), as they are the things that begin and end our time under the sun. Today we have much more control over these things in Solomon’s day with all of our advances in technology and medical care, but God is still ultimately sovereign over when a person is born and when a person dies. Next, planting and uprooting are mentioned. While these are more controlled by humans, if we don’t get the timing right, then these activities are meaningless and will not provide the fruit that we desire.

Verse 3 gives examples of killing and healing, tearing down and building up. The contrast of killing and healing can relate to many aspects of life - war vs peace, capital punishment vs rehabilitation for those who commit crimes, etc. Tearing down and building up primarily refer to economic development, but they can also refer to our lives as Christians. Do we tear down others by saying negative things, or do we build them up by our encouraging words?

Emotions are dealt with in verse 4: weeping, laughing, mourning, and dancing. There are appropriate times for all of these in our lives. Romans 12:15 tells us, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” It is appropriate and good for followers of Jesus to show emotions. We should not always put on a happy face when it is a time to weep or mourn. Even Jesus showed emotions of sadness (see John 11:35).

Verse 5 reminds us of appropriate times to do away with things versus gathering them up. It also tells us there is a time to embrace and a time to refrain from it, meaning there are times it is important to show love but also times where it is important not to show love, referring to romantic love.

Verses 6-7 deal with receiving and giving - searching vs giving things up, keeping vs throwing away, tearing vs mending, and being silent vs speaking. Sometimes we are the giver, whereas sometimes we are the receiver.

Verse 8 is likely one of the main reason this song became popular in the 1960s - it discusses a time to love vs hate, and a time for war vs peace. That decade saw many movements about love and peace instead of violence and war. But as the Teacher tells us, there are appropriate times for each of these.

I believe that we can all identify with times in this list, both in our own lives and in our communities. Which times are you going through right now? Which have you recently come through in your life?

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when we forget that God has appointed these times. We can get so caught up in our daily lives and in the circumstances and details surrounding these times that we don’t put them into God’s perspective. God has ordained each of these times and seasons in our lives, and He will use them for His greater purposes. Sometimes we need to go through these seasons multiple times before we truly learn the message that God has for us through it.

When you feel like things are falling apart in your life, hold onto the fact that we have to go through rhythms of good times and bad times. Why? They are all for God’s glory. We need to give God glory for the good times and the difficult times, so people will see that example and they can glorify God also, no matter what kind of season they are walking through.

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