3 There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—
2 A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
3 A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear 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 throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.
6 A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
7 A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
8 A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.
9 What profit is there to the worker from that in which he toils? 10 I have seen the task which God has given the sons of men with which to occupy themselves. 11 He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.
In chapter 3, Solomon begins discussing the perfect timing of God. He has transitioned out of his statement about how we don’t get satisfaction just by doing whatever we want into discussing what God has designed us to spend our time on. There is some sense to what we sometimes see as chaos in this world, even though we may not understand it. Verse 10 seems a bit odd, doesn’t it? It’s almost like Solomon is saying, “we all have busy work until it is time to stop working.” The New Testament version of that would be, “we all have our missions until the return of Christ.” What is he telling us? We all have a purpose.
Just like God gave everything a purpose for starting and ending, He gave us all a purpose for starting, continuing, and ending. I am finding more and more throughout the scriptures that purpose is a giant message. I think it is a main theme because 1) we constantly desire to discover our purpose and 2) God wants us to know what that is and the bible is a compilation of stories about the relationship between man and God. Yet, as we saw in chapter 2, we continue to toil in vain against that purpose and then curse God because we can’t find satisfaction in our labor. It sounds pretty idiotic when we look at it that way, but if we venture to examine our own lives we will find that it is exactly how we are. How often do we read the story of Israel and shake our heads in disgust at their disobedience and distrust of God? It is but an example of our own lives, which we continue to live out every day. Yet, we are still designed to have a relationship with God. If we set that as our top priority, everything else will fall into place: our marriage, our job, our school, and everything else in-between. If we don’t we are just chasing the wind.
Is anyone else confused by verse 11? It alludes to things Solomon has already said. He is going back to some of his previous statements in connection to God’s timing. He has also set eternity in their heart signifies the God shaped hole. Only God is eternal and therefore at our core we strive to fulfill the void that is there as a result of our sinfulness (ie our lack of relationship with Him). Yet, we will never fully understand who He is or what He has done. This was the point of my article about science. We constantly strive to know more but even though we do, we don’t even come closer to understanding what we call the mystery of God. If we were able to fully comprehend or understand God, then He wouldn’t be God, would He? How can an eternal and all encompassing God be completely understood and known by humans? How can a motorcycle know who Harley Davidson is? It’s not always about understanding everything, but being obedient and fulfilling our earthly purpose. This is what face looks like.
The way we are designed is to strive after God and when we don’t do that, we are wasting time and energy. Everything has its cycle and too often we work against it in vain.
I bet you didn’t realize this song was directly taken from Solomon’s words in today’s passage. If you can, listen to the song while reading the first 8 verses of this chapter: