Ecclesiastes 3:1-15: Time
October 4, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
There is now a break from the “experiments” (see the introduction to Ecclesiastes on the first chapter). The “teacher” is going to take a moment to explore one of the strangest parts of human existence, and also its inevitable experience; namely: time. What is time for? Why is there time? Do we exist in time or with time? Often this poem to time is viewed as basically positive. You will find people quote parts of it to indicate that there is a season for everything—and it carries with it the positive association of “seasons.” The reality, however, is that this poem is not talking about how certain things should be done at certain times, and other things at other times. The words for “time” and “season” have overlapping meanings. The “teacher” is not saying that we should find a time to kill, as if there were a right time to bump off your neighbors. Nor is he saying that there is a right time to hate, as if at some times of your life it is fine to loath, despise, yes, hate people.
No, the poem to time should be read with a funeral march drumbeat. There is a time, a time, a time—and then death. We, in our humanity, in this fallen condition, are locked by an inevitable march towards the grave. We can try to be efficient with our time, but time will still pass at the same rate. We can waste our time, and time will still pass at the same rate. We cannot save time or borrow time or get time back again; all we can do is decide what to do with the time that has been given to us. And even then, at the end time will run out.
There is a burden that God has laid on the human race—he has made everything beautiful in its time. Even the most beautiful things are done to the beat of time, are bound by time, and will decay and die.
This perspective on time—“under the sun”—causes us then to realize that we should take seriously the time that we have. But even if we are efficient with our use of time, still time runs out. What can we do? The only thing to do is to live “above the sun,” that is from the point of view of eternity. Seek first the kingdom of God. Invest in eternity. How can you invest in eternity? Invest in the one thing that will last for eternity, and that is: people. Disciple people. Pray for people. Evangelize people. Build God’s church (the one institution that will last for eternity). For—remember, says this poem to time—time is running out. Or as Jesus put it: work while there is still light, for darkness is coming when no man can work. Right now, determine then to make the use of the time that you have (the most valuable resource that anyone has) to invest in the eternal kingdom of God.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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