Message, February 27, 1994, AM
Ecc 3 This chapter opens with the well known section about
proper time. It opens with two statements worth our attention:
First, To everything there is a season... Like so many other statements in Scripture, this must be taken with reservation: there is a time for everything, but there is never a time for sin.
Second, a time for every purpose under heaven. Nothing avoids time. Every purpose upon the earth has a proper time, and the Lord establishes the proper time.
The Word of God clearly tells us that the Lord created time out of eternity. Furthermore, the Book of Ecclesiastes plainly tells us that the Lord is the One in control of all times. One of the hardest facts for man to face is that he cannot control time in any way; all he can do is learn to live in subjection to time. This section, though, is more specific than just time in general, for very few will deny that, overall, time moves in accord with God's plan.
Vv. 2-8 speak in specific terms. 26 times the phrase, A time to, and 2 times, A time for, is used. Then the rest of the book develops the fact that God controls "What time it is." The 28 events listed in vv. 2-8 cover every area of life, showing that the Lord controls the timing of all events that come into our lives.
These verses tell us that no event takes place apart from God's timing. Men can complain about the timing of events; they can make every effort under the sun to change or control God's time and timing of events, but all such effort is vain. As we will see, though, His people are instructed topray for the Lord to move in time and events to accomplish their particular requests.
We will not go through the 28 TIMES listed at this time. I will only mention a point and some sub points in opening this section: the main point is that the Lord controls time, and man can only subject himself to time. Man can either be grateful for God's timing of events, or man can fuss and complain over the Lord's timing. Either way, man can do extremely little, if anything, about the timing of events. In fact, the list of events is started by one event totally beyond man's control, birth.
Therefore, when vv. 1-8 say, A time to, there is not one event among the 28 listed where man can control the timing. Only the God of time can bring about the time to...
Man's rebellion against God's control of time is seen in the escalating suicide rate. Death is the only event that rebellious man thinks he can control. This is also why the Suicide Doctor has such a following. Some folks feel he can play God in helping them determine the time for their death.
Man does not control birth or death. Man might think he controls planting, but man cannot control the time to plant. God established the seasons and controls the weather that permits planing. "Well, man controls weeping." That is not what the passage says. The passages says, A time to weep. Example: Weeping is something we can all identify. The word of God tells us when we are to weep and when we are not to weep.
Ro 12:15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Jas 4:9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and [your] joy to heaviness. Jas 5:1 Go to now, [ye] rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon [you].
The Lord is the One Who controls the time and events that come together, calling for weeping. And we can say the same thing about all 27 other events. The Lord controls the timing of the events that bring about man's response of weeping, dancing, rending, speaking, loving, embracing, warring, gaining or losing wealth, &c.
Example: How many times have we worked to bring about certain events of joy only to have everything fall through? We did our best to control the proper time, but in the end it was out of our control.
Man's response is seen in Ecc 8:5, 6: He is to be able to discern the proper timing of the events.
1) Note what David said, Ps 31:8.
CHS places this psalm at the time of Absolom. David talks about the efforts of his enemies against him as he pleads for the Lord's assistance. V. 8, David tells us that the Lord protected him from his enemies. To me, the key phrase is My times are in thy hand...
As we think of David's situation with Absolom, we remember that over and over David saw what was happening, just in time to flee for his life. David faced many grievous situations concerning Absolom's efforts to overthrow the throne and kill him. Those events and their timing were totally out of David's control, but they took place in such a timely manner that David's life was spared.
In other words, the Lord controlled the timing in such a manner as to spare David and his throne. David faced a time of war, but the Lord controlled the timing of war.
The Preacher who wrote the book of Ecclesiastes develops the 28"TIMINGS" of vv. 2-8 throughout this book: 6:3. The Preacher develops thetime of birth. He points out that God determined the time, place, events surrounding and the parents of birth. In the Preacher's case, the results of God's timing in his birth was great wealth and all that went with it.
But he laments that without the inner good and peace of God with the wealth, it would be better to be born at another time. The inner good and peace is better than the wealth brought about by God's timing of birth.
Many things are developed like this throughout the book.
Application: the timing of events in our lives is of the Lord, and it is our responsibility to discern the timing and act properly in that time:
God was in control of the timing of events that brought things to a head so they had to be dealt with in our lives.
He controlled the timing of events that may have caused us to lose our job.
He controlled the timing of events that brought a particular man and woman together and latter married.
He controlled the timing of events that caused us to lose the money, or miss the good deal.
I knew a man in LA who was always in the right place at the right time. He was a retired AF man, and he made a good extra income by being at the right place at the right time. He could buy what we might consider a piece of junk, tinker with it, paint it and double his money. The Lord gave him the talent to take that junk and make something of value of it, and the Lord also worked the timing of events so he could get the junk at a good price. The man could have ignored the timing of events, but it would have cost him what the Lord was providing.
God controlled the timing of events that forced us to make a decision which we may now look back on with regret.
Every one of us in here can look back over our lives and see how the timing of events was completely out of our control. But that series of events is what brought us to the present point in our lives. We can get even more specific: many times the timing of events was right down to the split second. If the event had taken place 1/2 second either way, we would not be here. Motorcycle pulled out in front of me.
God controlled the timing of events that permitted us to get the good job, or that permitted us to find the good deal on a particular item. He is the one that saw that we were at the right place at the right time.
Pr 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof [is] of the LORD.
There are no coincidences in life.
Though we must say here with David, My times are in thy hand..., we arenot left a helpless victim of time.
2) Note what Daniel said, Dan 2. Dan 2:20-22 Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what [is] in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.
Moreover, we are told in James
James 5:16-18, Confess [your] faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.
Through prayer, Elias changed God's timing of planting and reaping by withholding rain upon the wicked.
God's word assures us that the prayers of a righteous man do not go unheard. Man is to pray that God would control time, or even change the timing of events, to work events for God's own glory.
At what point are God's times, as recorded in Ecc 3:2-8, firmly established and cannot be changed? We have no way of even speculating. All we know is that the God Who established time hears and answers the prayers of His people. In God's answers, He works time according to what pleases Him and according to what is best for those who love Him and are the called according to His purpose, Rom 8. God always works time according to His divine purpose and for the good of His people.
The Book of Job clearly shows us that the Lord controls the timing of all events that come into our lives. The Devil himself may bring the events to pass, but he only operates within God's timetable.
Yes, the timing of events may seem very poor:
"If only the timing would have been a little different, I would not have missed out on the good deal." Or, "If only these two events had not taken place at the same time, things would be different."
But look at the other side:
"If the timing had been different, I would not have met the one I am married to," or "I would not have the job I now have," or "I would not be converted." The list is endless as we think back over the timing of events.
We looked at vanity last week from this book. We saw that Solomon brings forth the idea that it is vain to even try to make things turn out the way we want them. "Why try?" says the discouraged Preacher, "We can not change God's timing, events, or people, so what's the use of hard work, planing and working with people?" Another thought also surfaces: The only reason for working and making money is to enjoy life because you cannot take it with you.
If one does not follow the book of Ecclesiastes through, he will miss the whole point the Lord is making with the apparent vanity of all things. In fact, as I read the book through, I must keep the end in mind, or I would quit. Yes, God controls the timing of all events, or He would not be God. Our responsibility is not to fret over the timing of events, either past, present or future. We cannot change God's time, for He alone determines what time it is. Is it time to plant? If so, He brought that time about, and we will be held accountable for our faithfulness of using the time properly to plant. We are commanded to pray for God to work time for His glory.
Time is God's creation; time moves in perfect obedience to its Creator. Man can understand neither God's timing nor His use of time to accomplish His glorious purpose in our lives and in history. It is impossible to see events from His perspective, so most of the time, there appears to beneither rime nor reason to the timing of events (except maybe to destroy us).
So with what option is man left? Is all vanity as this book appears to teach? Is every effort of life vain because the same thing happens to all men and the timing of events is out of man's control? This book, which seems to paint a very grim picture overall, does not leave man hopeless.
Though there are many statements scattered throughout the book that answers the difficulties of vanity and time, we will only look at two:
1) Ecc 8:5, 6
The wise man will understand what time it is. He will not try to reap in the time of sowing; he will not laugh in the time of mourning, nor will he mourn in the time of laughing. The discerning person will not try to hang on when it is time to let lose; nor will he love when it is time to hate or make war when it is time for peace.
In our day of prolonged life due to medical science, we especially need God's discernment concerning proper time. All 28 times must be viewed as a responsibility to discern the timebecause we will be accountable to God for its proper use.
2) Ecc 12:13, 14.
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this [is] the whole [duty] of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether [it be] good, or whether [it be] evil.
No one can understand God's working in time. But we are not required to understand these things that are as high above us as the heavens are above the earth. But we are most certainly given a responsibility within the time God has provided: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is thewhole duty of man.
At God's proper time, we must sow, make war, laugh, mourn, kill, heal, repair and rend. The list is quite extensive, and the Spirit of God gives us the discernment to know what time it is.
Our times are in the hands of the Lord; therefore, we are assured that He works the timing of all events that come into our lives for our good and for His praise, honour and glory.
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