A Time for Everything
The PowerPoint sermon can be viewed here.
The PowerPoint sermon can be downloaded here.
- In an lifetime, the average
American will spend: Six months sitting at stoplights, eight months
opening junk mail, one year looking for misplaced objects, two years
unsuccessfully returning phone calls, four years doing housework, five
years waiting in line, and six years eating.
- It is quite true that time
escapes from the best of us at an alarming rate.
- Someone once aptly said, “We
master our minutes, or we become slaves to them; we use time, or time
- If you are anything like I
am, the New Year is a time to ponder where time has gone. When I was a
child, it seemed as though time ebbed so slowly; now it seems that time
absolutely flies by.
- In tonight's text, Solomon is
doing a good bit of pondering where time has gone.
- He has observed a generation
of people: “A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth
remains forever” (1:4).
- Now, Solomon, guided by the
Spirit, puts his observations to paper: READ TEXT.
- There can be no doubt
whatsoever as to the beauty of these words. These words have been
adapted into songs & various other literary works.
- However, we cannot get so
caught up in the pure beauty of these words that we cannot see the
truth God desires us to see.
- That truth relates to
Solomon's observations of generations. Solomon observes God's
Administration & Man's Abandonment.
- GOD'S ADMINISTRATION.
- These verses demonstrate God's
administration of the universe.
- Throughout this book, Solomon
writes about God's control over the universe.
- “I applied my heart to
seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is
an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be
busy with” (1:13).
- “There is nothing better
for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in
his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God” (2:24).
- “To the one who pleases
him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he
has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to the
one who pleases God” (2:26).
- Now, Solomon turns his
attention to demonstrating that administration in every day life.
- If you notice the list,
the activities Solomon list were common occurrences in the ANE:
planting & plucking up, tearing & sowing, and war & peace.
- While planing &
plucking and war & peace may not be every day life-and-death
matters for us, they certainly were for the first readers of this
passage. They surely would have understood this as God's governance in
everyday, common occurrences.
- These verses show God's total control of the universe.
- Solomon gives a list of
seven polar opposites.
- Seven is the
number—that, in the ancient world—signified completeness.
- The use of polar
opposites in poetry signifies totality.
- The point is that
nothing happens without the governance of God.
- “Are not two
sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground
apart from your Father” (Mt 10:29).
Christ, Paul writes, “He is the image of the
invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things
were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were
created through him and for him” (Col 1:15-16).
- We must not think in terms
- Muslims teach total
predestination—i.e., that everything that happens has been
predetermined by God. E.g., if a mudslide comes down and destroys a
house, it was because “allah” willed it so.
- Even Ecclesiastes
teaches quite differently.
- Solomon saw that
not everything occurs according to preordination:
- “I saw that
under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the
strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor
to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all” (9:11).
- There is
according to this passage, a very real thing such as luck—whether that
luck be good or bad. Somethings happen to us because we are in the
right place at the right time & other things happen because we are
at the wrong place at the wrong time.
- If all has been
predetermined by God & we can't change anything, it seems odd for
Solomon to conclude his work with these words:
- “The end of the
matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for
this is the whole duty of man” (12:13).
- If I have no
control over whether or not I will fear God, why instruct me to do so?
- If this text doesn't teach
total predestination, what does it teach?
- God has established
proper order to the universe.
- Notice that Solomon
says that there is “a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is
planted” (v 2).
- God established the
time for planting & harvesting: “While the earth remains, seedtime
and harvest, cold and heat, sumer and winter, day and night, shall not
cease” (Gn 8:22).
- I don't have to
plant when it's time to plant: I can go out & plow a garden &
plant right now if I want to. But, because that's outside of God's
time, it's not going to succeed.
- Even time &
circumstance work toward the purposes of God.
- Notice what Peter
says about the crucifixion of Christ: “This Jesus, delivered up
according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified
and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:23).
- God had a plan,
but the Jews acted lawlessly out of their freewill.
- God was able to
accomplish his purposes even with the freewill of the Jews.
- “We know that for
those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are
called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also
predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Rm 8:28-29).
- In his governance of the
universe, God has given time to man.
- At the Creation, God
- “God called the light
Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there
was morning, the first day” (Gn 1:5).
- On the fourth day, “God
said, 'Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate
the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and
for days and years'” (Gn 1:14).
- Because God has given man
time, man needs to be careful how he uses that time.
- “Teach us to number our
days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Ps 90:12).
- “Look carefully then how
you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time,
because the days are evil” (Eph 5:15-16).
- How well are we using
the time that God has given?
- In his governance of the world,
God has established the right time for man's activities.
- Notice the affirmation at
verse 11: “He has made everything beautiful in its time.”
- That statement is quite
reminiscent of Genesis 1 where God beheld the beauty of his Creation:
“God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Gn
- Just as every physical
thing God created was very good, the orderliness God established is
- However, as you look over
this list, there are multiple activities which do not seem beautiful at
- How can death &
war, for example, be beautiful in their time? Let's use those two
activities to illustrate how all can be beautiful.
- How can death be
- God never intended
for man to die & death is God's last great enemy (1 Cor 15:26).
- However, for the
Christian, death is a beautiful event.
- “Precious in the
sight of the LORD is the death of his saints” (Ps 116:15).
- “I heard a voice
from heaven saying, 'Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the
Lord from now on.' 'Blessed indeed,' says the Spirit, 'that they may
rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!'” (Rv 14:13).
- From a Christian
worldview, death is likely seen as beautiful much more easily than is
- How many families
have suffered untold terror in the two wars this nation has fought
- The first
American soldier to die in Afghanistan was a NT Christian.
- How many
children in the middle east have gone hungry or been maimed because of
1946, Dwight Eisenhower declared, “I hate war as only a soldier who has
lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its stupidity.”
- Why is there war on
provides an answer: “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among
you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You
desire and do not have, because you do not ask” (Js 4:1-2).
- That may seem
simplistic since James speaks of fights within a church & not
between countries. However, I'm convinced that all fights come from
passions within us.
- Why did
Saddam Hussein invade Kuwait? Was it not that he coveted?
- Why did the
world fight World War II? Was it not partially because Hitler has a
lust for power & desired to rule the world?
- So, how can such
destruction arising from sin be beautiful?
- Simply because
war serves the purposes of God.
- Let me give a
- When the
Israelites went into Canaan, there was war. But, that war served the
purpose of God's giving the land to the descendants of Abraham.
- In 1 Kings
22, the war that Ahab started served the purpose of carrying out God's
judgment upon Ahab.
- God's purposes cannot be
thwarted, for he has made everything beautiful in its time.
- MAN'S ABANDONMENT.
- Man has abandonment in the face
of God's governance of the world in that man has no such governance of
- Man can do so very little in
the face of all that God can do.
- Solomon says that there is
a time to be born & a time to die.
- We have no control over
the day of our births.
- There is not a one
of us who decided to be born & there isn't a one of us who had any
control over when & where we'd be born.
- Not even an
expectant mother can control when & where she'll give birth.
- Speaking of the
birth of Christ, Luke records, “While they were there [in Bethlehem],
the time came for her to give birth” (2:6) – Mary had no choice in the
time when the Christ was born.
- How many babies
have been born in the back of cabs or on airplanes, because their
mothers were not expecting so soon a birth? On New Year's Day, a baby
was born on a flight from the Netherlands to Boston.
- Neither do we have any
control over the day of our deaths.
- “No man has power to
retain the spirit, or power over the day of death” (8:8).
- Granted, with
medical technology we can greatly delay the day of death. Yet, it is
going to come & we do not know when it shall come.
- Furthermore, Solomon says
that there is a time to plant & a time to pluck up what is planted.
- Man has no control
whatsoever over the seasons of the Earth.
- With the help of modern
technology, we can grow just about anything in a greenhouse all year
long, but you'd better not try that outside.
- We've hinted at this truth
several times this evening: Simply because God has established a set
time for all things does not mean that man cannot do as he will.
- God has provided man
freewill & man can determine how he will respond to the times God
- In fact, the placement of
this poem in the Book of Ecclesiastes establishes this truth.
- Through the years,
several biblical scholars have said that this poem is out of place in
the book. That this book is extremely disjointed at this juncture.
- However, these verses
are an extension of the end of chapter 2.
- In v 26, Solomon
speaks of the righteous & the sinner: “To the one who pleases him
God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has
given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who
- Thus, the one who
is righteous attempts to live life in accord with God's appointed time
& the sinner does not attempt to live life in accord with God's
- Being sinful, men often
do not act according to God's appointed times. Solomon says, for
example, that there is a time to keep silence & a time to speak.
- How many people
speak when they need to keep silent or vice versa?
- Job's friends
spoke when they should have kept silent.
- For a
week, Job's friends kept silent (Job 2:13); it was then that they did
the most good.
then open their mouths & begin to declare that Job is suffering
because he is evil when that is so far from the truth. They spoke when
they should have kept silent.
words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his
lips is prudent” (Prov 10:19).
we be careful to speak when it is time to speak?
- Man also does not understand the ways of
says that God “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 beginning to end” (v 11).
there any way at all to comprehend what God has done from the beginning
Scripture, we have a recording of the acts of God.
believe that Scripture tells us all that God has done.
idea how God uses his providence to accomplish
- How is
it that the Jews were free to decide what to do, yet they chose to
crucify the Christ according to the will of God?
- Yet, of
course, we don't need to understand the way that God works for him to
accomplish his work on this earth.
- We also
do not know all the purposes of God.
- I know
that Jesus died according to the will of God, for Peter, filled with
the Holy Spirit, declared such at Pentecost.
because direct revelation has ceased, we do not know what all God may
be doing to accomplish his final purpose of the glorification of his
toward that final glorification of Jesus Christ:
“At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven an don earth and
under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to
the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:10-11).
- Are you
ready to confess that truth at this appointed time & fulfill the
divine purpose for your life?