Morning Light – Ecclesiastes 3

ml_2016Today: [Ecclesiastes 3] To Every Time there is a Season. In our chapter today we find one of the most commonly known passages of Ecclesiastes. To everything there is a season. This passage has been disputed by man either to be a statement of the monotony and pointlessness of life, or on the opposite the beauty of life as God intended it. As we study the wording in its entirety we see in this chapter a warning not to be high-minded in our thinking toward our fellow man – even those we consider offenders because as elsewhere in the scripture we find stated that “God rains on the just and the unjust” alike. Furthermore in this chapter we find two gems of revelatory truth, one regarding “eternity set in the hearts of men” and the other questioning where the beast nature of man came from if in fact the usurper (Satan himself) is a fallen angel? Why, if Satan is a fallen angel does not the sinner take on the nature of an angel and instead as the scripture insists the nature of the “beast”?
[Ecc 3:1-22 KJV] 1 To every [thing there is] a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up [that which is] planted; 3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
Chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes is probably one of the most well-known as it contains the “time for every purpose under heaven” passage. This passage is very artful while at the same time reminding us of the monotony of life and the seeming inevitability of trials and troubles that randomly attend every life including our own from time to time. The comfort we can draw from the message of this passage is that we are not being singled out. A modern comparative to Solomon’s observation is “what goes around comes around”. We want to complain with the objection “why me” but just as bad things happen to us all so even good things happen, even to those who seemingly do not deserve it.
While Solomon’s writings in Ecclesiastes are considered by many to be spurious in nature, Jesus Himself echoes many of Solomon’s sentiments in this book including this particular chapter:
[Mat 5:45 KJV] 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
The admonition on Jesus’ part in the previous verse is that we should:
[Mat 5:44 KJV] 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
This is admonished to us by Jesus IN LIGHT of the fact that we all share both good and evil the common experiences of life by the hand of God. What is the point of this? Many times when we suffer our response is to justify or defend ourselves and condemn others. In the ancient world populations suffering earthquake or pestilence would demand that Christians be persecuted in order to appease the wrath of pagan gods against their city. It is no different in modern times. We look upon the calamity of a nation and even as Christians conclude that the land is suffering because of the sins of certain people groups. These offenders that we are driven by the pressures of life to identify are almost never those in our midst. We tend to identify only those sins and transgressions that we ourselves are not guilty of – as the predicating cause of calamity, difficulty, etc. The premise is that if we would only punish the offenders, or at best separate ourselves from them that the suffering would end. Jesus is pointing out to us that our attitude toward offenders is not to vilify or indemnify them – their own guilt does that, rather that we should love others in like of the fact that God deals with all of us at a certain level in a very egalitarian (or fair and just) manner.
9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth? 10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it. 11 He hath made every [thing] beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end. 12 I know that [there is] no good in them, but for [a man] to rejoice, and to do good in his life. 13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it [is] the gift of God. 14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth [it], that [men] should fear before him. 15 That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.
Verse 11 contains one of those bright lights of revelation of which several are hidden throughout the entirety of the book of Revelation. “… he has set the world (eternity) in their (men’s) hearts so that none can find our (fully search out) the things of God in their entirety…” In other words God has placed as Jesus declared, His kingdom in our hearts to ignite a religious sense, a spiritual bent in all men whether they are pagan or not – to endlessly pursue the fulfillment of the indefinable needs of the spirit. We think of eternity as an unreachable, linear dimension beyond time and space. There may be truth to that proposition but eternity is also something from the stand point of the word that is place centrally within our own hearts. There is something of eternity in the heart of every man and woman born into this life. To this the gospels agree:
[Jhn 1:9 KJV] 9 [That] was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
The apostle Paul also declares that portion that God has divided to every man in the earth and in so doing also echoes the words of Solomon in warning us not to make the arbitrary distinction that we are better in our persons than any other man though we may be tempted to insist that we are morally superior than those we identify as offenders and conclude they are worthy of suffering and we are not:
[Rom 12:3 KJV] 3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think [of himself] more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
(For more on this subject I highly recommend the book “Eternity in their Hearts” by Don Richardson. This book should be in the library of every missions minded believer.)
16 And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, [that] wickedness [was] there; and the place of righteousness, [that] iniquity [was] there. 17 I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for [there is] a time there for every purpose and for every work. 18 I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts. 19 For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all [is] vanity. 20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. 21 Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth? 22 Wherefore I perceive that [there is] nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that [is] his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?
In concluding this particular observation about the common experiences of life among men, Solomon final opinion on the matter is that regardless of the unfair judgments of men (justifying themselves and unfairly judging others) that in the end God Himself will judge every one, good or evil, the quick and the dead by His own eternal justice – and in that light we should walk humbling before Him and be fair dealing in our thoughts and actions toward others. This is the practical outworking of the fear of God which we are admonished to walk in throughout the scriptures.
Another deep, echoing thought in this chapter is found in verse 18. Solomon’s prayer is that men would see themselves as mere beasts, possessed of animal life that expires equally whether that beast be the king or the barn mouse. Throughout the scripture there are references to the sin nature as the beast nature or animal nature of man. Where did this sin nature come from? It was the impartation of Satan into the human race when Adam and Eve transgressed.
[2Pe 2:12 KJV] 12 But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption;
[Jde 1:10 KJV] 10 But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.
Now where did Satan get a beast nature? Did he take the beast nature from the animal kingdom and place it in man? When Adam sinned, he gave up his dominion over the animal kingdom and it became Satan’s. This is how Satan became “the small-g ‘god’” of this world. However, there is no mention of this act of Satan to take an animal’s nature and put it in man who was in fact originally made in the image of God.
The question remains then, how did man take on the nature of a beast? The only indication at the time of the fall is found in Genesis 3 which tells us in Gen. 3:1 that “…the serpent was more subtil than all the beasts of the field…” Here is the first mention of Satan and this first mention in the scriptures carrying the weight of being the first mention places him not in the order of angels but in the order of the animal kingdom. If Satan was in reality a member of the animal kingdom and not an angel it follows that when Adam and Eve yielded to him by sin that this was the nature that they then would take upon themselves. If in fact Satan was / is an angel (fallen or no) then how come sinful man, man in his sinful condition did not take on the nature of an angel? Furthermore if you were Satan would you want to be thought of as a rebellious member of the animal kingdom or as a rebellious angel second only to the trinity itself who (supposedly) successfully led an ancient rebellion against the throne of God? What is the point of such a conjecture? It is not to establish doctrine but to ask the question to which the answer one way or another has the desired effect of diminishing the false glory of the serpent and pointing him out for who and what he really is.

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