Scriptures

Ecclesiastes 3

Introduction

‘There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: 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 to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.’ Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

A Time For Everything

These verse are written in Hebrew poetry and Solomon shares his philosophy of the world. We must remember they are not written randomly, and not all of the statements are to be taken literally, they are written to let us know the divine order of things, so that we can know that God is controlling all things.

He begins by reminding us that life consists of all we do between birth and death. This is the way God has design human life and, as we know no one, in our physical state we can’t live forever, James 4:14.

God created seasons where we can plant our crops to sustain us with food. In addition to planting we eagerly await the expected harvest time.

A time to kill is somewhat difficult to understand, Genesis 9:5-6, however, executions and wars have always existed. Here Solomon reminds us that justice must be served against the guilty, but there must also be a time of healing, that is a time reconciliation and forgiveness. We all need time to heal from our wounds and sicknesses, although this can be slow and painful sometimes.

Tearing down buildings can be dangerous; this is why we have so many warning signs. In the Bible, old buildings with mildew were to be torn down, Leviticus 14:33, and replaced with a new building, in other words, the time of building was to make something better than it was before.

We will all experience times of sorrow, especially when a loved one passes away, these are the times when we need to cry to get relief but there are also times, special times when we will rejoice and be glad, those are the times when laughter is appropriate, Romans 12:15. Weddings and celebrations are a time to dance, sing, eat and laugh.

Anyone who knows about land will know that in order to prepare the land for crops, they need to remove all the stones first. Some remove the stones to ensure their flocks don’t get hurt by walking on them. However, these landowners don’t just throw away the stones, they reuse them to build walls around their fields to protect their animals or they use them to build another structure elsewhere.

During special events or when we haven’t seen someone in a long time usually results in long periods of hugs, this is perfectly natural. However, there are times when we shouldn’t embrace someone with a hug, especially if the person we meet is ungodly or has alternative motives, Luke 22:47-53.

There is time a time for gain, but there’s also a time when we must share our riches with others. There is a modern-day proverb which says, ‘don’t cry over spilt milk.’ This basically means a wise person is careful to recognise what is acceptable and should be more careful in the future.

We all know someone who holds on to absolutely everything they have, but we must learn that not everything we have is worth holding on to, they are things we simply need to get rid of.

Unlike our throw away culture today, clothing was very expensive in Bible times, people wouldn’t throw those clothes away, they would use them for something else or simply fix them.

There are times when it’s best to shut our mouths and time to speak up, especially in reference to truth. Words spoken at the appropriate time can be very powerful, especially if they help someone reconcile with someone else or bring comfort. There are also times we need to learn to say nothing, especially in tense arguments with others, James 3:2-12.

There’s always a conflict between loving someone and hating someone, but God has blessed us so much, that we should always love, John 3:16. Hatred happens but we should control our feelings otherwise this can devastate for everyone involved. There are some things we should hate, Matthew 6:24.

The world goes through cycles of war and peace, as Christians we experience peace, the Lord’s peace, Ephesians 2:11-18, but we’re also involved in spiritual warfare, Ephesians 6:10-18. After most wars, love and understanding is usually given to our former enemies.

‘What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 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 people will fear him. Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before; and God will call the past to account.’ Ecclesiastes 3:9-15

These verses teach us that mankind were created a spiritual beings, it’s our spirit within us, that yearns to worship. Every civilisation in the world has always wanted to worship something or someone.

Solomon says that someone is God because it was God who put that desire in our hearts, Romans 1:18-32. Everything that God created was good, Genesis 1:4 / Genesis 1:12 / Genesis 1:18 / Genesis 1:21 / Genesis 1:25, and when He created man, He said it was very good, Genesis 1:31.

When Adam and Eve messed up God cast them out of the garden and said that work would no longer be pleasurable but hard, Genesis 3:17-19. We must learn that there is more to life than working, we work not only to sustain ourselves and our families but we work for the benefit or others, Ephesians 6:5-9 / Colossians 3:22-24. God isn’t a God of chaos but of order, we see this in the creation account of Genesis 1.

‘And I saw something else under the sun: In the place of judgment—wickedness was there, in the place of justice—wickedness was there. I said to myself, ‘God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed.’ I also said to myself, ‘As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?’ So, I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?’ Ecclesiastes 3:16-22

There’s no denying that life can be very complicated at times, especially when we see the moral and immoral behaviour of people. This behaviour causes confusion because there are times where justice should have been served, but instead wickedness flourished, injustice was being served instead of righteousness.

Like I mentioned earlier, God created everything and said it was good, there was no evil, but now evil is everywhere, due to the sinfulness of mankind.

We see a lot of evil, men in the world today who love nothing more than to hurt those innocent people around them. However, there’s a time coming when God will hold these evil people to account, they will be judged for their actions, Ecclesiastes 12:14 / Acts 17:31 / Revelation 21:8.

Solomon tells us that the physical status of all people is the same as the animals, that is, they all die and return to the dust. Remember he’s not speaking about immortality, the idea of the afterlife and eternal life didn’t become clear until Jesus came, 2 Timothy 1:9-10.

It’s only the spirit of humans which return to God, Ecclesiastes 12:7, because animals don’t have a soul like we do. Solomon’s point is simply this, if there is no life beyond the grave, then we simply die just like the animals do, who have no soul.

Do Animals Go To Heaven?

I recently lost my pet springer spaniel Oscar and a friend of mine asked this very question, will Oscar be in heaven now? This is a good question to which I quoted Revelation 22:14-15. The text says that the ‘dogs are outside’ of God’s presence, that was a joke and not obviously to be taken literally.

It’s a good question and although it may bring a lot of comfort to many animal lovers whom lost their pets, we need to see what the Bible actually teaches.

The Bible states that both man and animals have the ‘breath of life’, that is, both man and animals are living beings, Genesis 2:7 / Genesis 1:30 / Genesis 6:17 / Genesis 7:15 / Genesis 7:22. There’s no doubt that animals are precious in God’s eyes but the main difference between human beings and animals is that humanity is made in the image and likeness of God, while animals are not, Genesis 1:26-27.

Being made in the image and likeness of God means that human beings are like God, capable of spirituality, with mind, emotion, and will, and they have a part of their being that continues after death.

Remembering that the Hebrew word ‘Adam’ means ‘man.’ ‘Life’ like animal life, is something which Adam shared with every other living creature created by God. But the difference between the other creatures and man lies in the fact that God said, ‘Let us make Man after our own image, after our likeness.’ Genesis 1:26.

Only with reference to man is this said, and it’s this ‘likeness to God’ which uniquely constituted man a rational and moral being, possessing a conscience that enabled him to distinguish between good and evil, right and wrong, obedience and disobedience. It’s in this sense that man is a soul, a self, having self-awareness and self-consciousness.

Now look at Genesis 1:26 again, this shows us that man is not only superior to all other living creatures on Earth because he possesses this moral awareness. This is also shows us that the gulf between man and the rest of creation was further emphasised and endorsed when God assigned to him dominion over all other living creatures, Job 32:8.

If we consider the body to be ‘Earth-conscious’, and the soul to be ‘Self-conscious’, we may think of the spirit as being ‘God-conscious’. In other words, it is that part of man’s nature which enables him to reach out to and communicate with God. It’s the spiritual dimension in man’s character, and, here again; we see the difference between man and other creatures.

It’s only man says who can say, ‘My soul thirsts for God, for the living God’. Psalm 42:2. Its only man who is encouraged to ‘seek after Him, in the hope that they might feel after Him and find Him,’ Acts 17:27. Its only man who is given the assurance that ‘He is not far from each one of us, for in Him we live and move and have our being’. Acts 17:27.

The ‘soul’ is man’s unique self, it’s the part of his being which, because it’s rational and moral, determines the actions performed by his body, and which, therefore, renders him personally accountable for what he does.

And so, it is man’s ‘soul’ which will ultimately be either saved or lost, depending on his response to the offer of the salvation which was made first possible by the coming of the Christ into the world.

When an animal dies, their bodies are buried, and their spirit goes back to God, Ecclesiastes 12:7. Solomon says at death, the body returns to the dust of the earth, and the spirit goes back to God who gave it.

I really miss my dog Oscar, he brought me a lot of joy and was a source of comfort at times and although it sounds nice and brings people a lot of comfort, I believe that animals don’t possess a soul, and the Bible teaches us that it’s only the faithful soul which will live forever with God in heaven, 2 Corinthians 5:8.

Go To Ecclesiastes 4

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!"

Psalm 133:1

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