Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Ecclesiastes- Chapter 3

Ecclesiastes 3

-Pessimism mixed with some valuable truths of Scripture make up the bulk of this well-known and often quoted chapter. Solomon begins with the fact that there is “an appointed time for everything…and there is a time for every event under heaven.” There is a time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot; a time to kill and a time to heal; a time tear down and a time to build up; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to be sad and a time to dance; a time to cast stones and a time to gather them; a time to embrace in unity and a time to shun embracing; a time to search and a time to ceasing searching and give up as lost; a time to keep and a time to throw away; a time to tear apart and a time to bring together; a time to be silent and a time to speak up; a time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace. And, as the Byrds say, “I swear it’s not too late (see https://www.bing.com/search?q=turn+turn+turn&form=EDNTHT&mkt=en-us&httpsmsn=1&refig=2b26a5ed150a4e56e23c57594d613547&sp=-1&pq=turn&sc=0-4&qs=n&sk=&cvid=2b26a5ed150a4e56e23c57594d613547).” By the end though, the king is lamenting again the lack of perceived profit for the worker in all this toil. He had observed the task which the LORD had given the sons of men with which to occupy themselves during their sojourn on earth, and he acted disgruntled (Ecclesiastes 3:1-10).

-Verse eleven is extraordinarily insightful though, “He (God) has made everything appropriate (yapheh- beautiful, well, pleasant) in its time. He has also set eternity in their (mankind’s) heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end (Ecclesiastes 3:11).”

-*Application* We would do well to contemplate this verse for a while. God does all things well and they work together for His good purposes to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). All things unknown and mysterious will be cleared up in TIME and by the work of Jesus Christ on the cross and His resurrection. We will know all things even as we have been known (1 Corinthians 13:12). God has set the idea of forever within us, His creation, to long and grope and seek out this relationship with Him for eternity (Acts 17:22-31, Romans 8:18-27). Faith is what it takes to appropriate this assurance (Hebrews 11:1, 6). While we struggle and muddle through this current existence lacking all knowledge, like Solomon sees 3,000 years ago, there is a future hope and we will be redeemed in our true and intended form if we trust in the LORD Jesus Christ (Jeremiah 29:11-13, Titus 2:11-14).

-But alas, Solomon is living with a worldly perspective at this point thinking that there is nothing better for man than to rejoice and simply do good in one’s lifetime. Again, as we’ve seen in previous chapters, he is not seeing the eternal picture in this worldview. He does however note that everything God gives is a gift, including the eating, drinking, and labor. He knows that everything God does will last forever with nothing to do to it or take away from it, for “God has so worked that men should fear Him.” The timelessness of the Almighty is exonerated (Ecclesiastes 3:12-15).

-Going further, Solomon has seen that within this world in the place justice and righteousness there is prevailing wickedness. While he notes that God will test and judge both the righteous and wicked man in His perfect way as to every matter and deed, he correlates man and beast as having the same fate in physical death. This too, he concluded was vanity in this temporal world. Man and beast come from the dust and return to it when they die. The breath (ruwach- wind, breath, spirit) of man ascends upward as eternal beings, but the breath of the animals descend downward to the earth, and who knows this mystery? For Solomon, he had seen that nothing was better than that men and women should be happy in their activities, for this is their lot and they will not be able to see what will occur after them (Ecclesiastes 3:16-22).

-*Application* There is a time for everything, and God knows in His wisdom just how to work out the details. His coordination blows our finite minds, and this is something that even the wise Solomon was unable to comprehend. As we often say, “Life is a mystery.” Thankfully, Christ has cleared much up since the time of this ancient king. Jesus’ full revelation in the fullness of time made sense where we needed answers (Galatians 4:3-7, Ephesians 3:16-21).

Verses to Memorize: Ecclesiastes 3:11, 14

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