Ecclesiastes 3:16-22: More About “Time”

Devotionals > Old Testament > Ecclesiastes > Ecclesiastes 3:16-22: More About “Time”

Ecclesiastes 3:16-22: More About “Time”

October 5, 2022


Jeremiah 10-11, Ecclesiastes 3:16-22, John 1:43-51, James 2:14-26  

Ecclesiastes 3:16-22:  

The Bible reading plan we are following in this devotional series breaks the readings at verse 15 (yesterday) and then from verse 16 (today). Really, however, this section is a continuation of the previous. Again the theme is time: “There will be a time for every activity, and a time to judge every deed.” Now, though, the purpose behind this description of time is made crystal clear. It is to show that everything is meaningless “under the sun.” In particular, the “teacher” (the main protagonist of Ecclesiastes) is now bringing into focus where this is going: death, and the uncertainty that a perspective “under the sun” has about what happens after we die. The fate of humans is like that of animals; as one dies, so does the other. And who knows (from the perspective “under the sun”) what happens after we die, whether the the spirit of a human goes “up” or the spirit of an animal goes “down.”

In this perspective “under the sun” (the secular, atheistic, existentialist perspective, to use our anachronistic terms for it), we cannot know for sure what will happen after we die. We know that we are all immersed in time. We know that the clock is ticking: tick, tick, tick: death. And we also know that we do not know what happens after we die. We assume that something must happen, for death feels wrong. We have an intuition about eternity (as the “teacher” will describe later in Ecclesiastes), but we do not know for sure what will happen—in this perspective “under the sun.” What that means is that the only logical thing to do is to try to enjoy your work while you are here. What else is there?

But, again, we do not live with an “under the sun” perspective. We live with an “above the sun” perspective, that is from the point of view of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. We know that as he was raised, so we who are in Christ will also be raised. In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, the mortal will clothe itself with immortality and we shall be raised!

And therefore? Therefore, we live to invest in that eternity. Invest in the one thing that will last for eternity: people. And the one institution that will last for eternity: the church.


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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