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Ecclesiastes 3:1–8 NIV
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.
Synopsis
Appropriate or appointed periods of time which are part of the variety and development of human life and experience and which influence human affairs. The times and seasons for individuals and nations are set by God, who works all things together towards the final fulfilment of his purposes.
The seasons of life are appointed by God
The seasons of individual lives
Ec 3:1–8; Ps 31:15
Ecclesiastes 3:1–8 (NIV) — 1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: 2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, 3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, 6 a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, 7 a time to tear and a time to mend, 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.
Psalm 31:15 (NIV) — 15 My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me.
See also Job 14:5; Ps 139:16; Ec 3:11; Ro 8:28; Jas 4:13–15
Job 14:5 (NIV) — 5 A person’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.
Psalm 139:16 (NIV) — 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV) — 11 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.
Romans 8:28 (NIV) — 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
James 4:13–15 (NIV) — 13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
The seasons of nations and the world
Da 2:21; Ac 17:26
Daniel 2:21 (NIV) — 21 He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.
Acts 17:26 (NIV) — 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.
See also Da 4:17; Da 7:25; Ac 1:7
Daniel 4:17 (NIV) — 17 “ ‘The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of people.’
Daniel 7:25 (NIV) — 25 He will speak against the Most High and oppress his holy people and try to change the set times and the laws. The holy people will be delivered into his hands for a time, times and half a time.
Acts 1:7 (NIV) — 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.
A time to die
The transience of human life
Ps 103:15–16
Psalm 103:15–16 (NIV) — 15 The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; 16 the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
See also Job 7:6–8; Job 14:1–2; Ps 37:2; Ps 102:11; Ec 6:12
Job 7:6–8 (NIV) — 6 “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and they come to an end without hope. 7 Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath; my eyes will never see happiness again. 8 The eye that now sees me will see me no longer; you will look for me, but I will be no more.
Job 14:1–2 (NIV) — 1 “Mortals, born of woman, are of few days and full of trouble. 2 They spring up like flowers and wither away; like fleeting shadows, they do not endure.
Psalm 37:2 (NIV) — 2 for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.
Psalm 102:11 (NIV) — 11 My days are like the evening shadow; I wither away like grass.
Ecclesiastes 6:12 (NIV) — 12 For who knows what is good for a person in life, during the few and meaningless days they pass through like a shadow? Who can tell them what will happen under the sun after they are gone?
Death comes at its appointed time
Job 5:26
Job 5:26 (NIV) — 26 You will come to the grave in full vigor, like sheaves gathered in season.
See also Ge 47:29; 1 Ki 2:1; Lk 12:20
Genesis 47:29 (NIV) — 29 When the time drew near for Israel to die, he called for his son Joseph and said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, put your hand under my thigh and promise that you will show me kindness and faithfulness. Do not bury me in Egypt,
1 Kings 2:1 (NIV) — 1 When the time drew near for David to die, he gave a charge to Solomon his son.
Luke 12:20 (NIV) — 20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
Times of sadness and joy
A time to mourn
Ge 27:41; Ge 37:34; Ge 50:3–4; Dt 34:8; Je 4:28
Genesis 27:41 (NIV) — 41 Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”
Genesis 37:34 (NIV) — 34 Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days.
Genesis 50:3–4 (NIV) — 3 taking a full forty days, for that was the time required for embalming. And the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days. 4 When the days of mourning had passed, Joseph said to Pharaoh’s court, “If I have found favor in your eyes, speak to Pharaoh for me. Tell him,
Deuteronomy 34:8 (NIV) — 8 The Israelites grieved for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days, until the time of weeping and mourning was over.
Jeremiah 4:28 (NIV) — 28 Therefore the earth will mourn and the heavens above grow dark, because I have spoken and will not relent, I have decided and will not turn back.”
A time to rejoice
Jn 16:21–22
John 16:21–22 (NIV) — 21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.
See also Dt 28:47; Es 9:22; Is 61:2–3
Deuteronomy 28:47 (NIV) — 47 Because you did not serve the Lord your God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity,
Esther 9:22 (NIV) — 22 as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor.
Isaiah 61:2–3 (NIV) — 2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.
A time to speak
Pr 15:23; Pr 25:11; 2 Ti 4:2 Christians are to be always ready to share the gospel.
Proverbs 15:23 (NIV) — 23 A person finds joy in giving an apt reply— and how good is a timely word!
Proverbs 25:11 (NIV) — 11 Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a ruling rightly given.
2 Timothy 4:2 (NIV) — 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.
Times appointed for the world
The rise and fall of nations
Da 2:37–45; Da 8:19–25; Da 11:2–4; Da 11:24–27; Lk 21:24
Daniel 2:37–45 (NIV) — 37 Your Majesty, you are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; 38 in your hands he has placed all mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds in the sky. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold. 39 “After you, another kingdom will arise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth. 40 Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron breaks and smashes everything—and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others. 41 Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. 42 As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. 43 And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay. 44 “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. 45 This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces. “The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.”
Daniel 8:19–25 (NIV) — 19 He said: “I am going to tell you what will happen later in the time of wrath, because the vision concerns the appointed time of the end. 20 The two-horned ram that you saw represents the kings of Media and Persia. 21 The shaggy goat is the king of Greece, and the large horn between its eyes is the first king. 22 The four horns that replaced the one that was broken off represent four kingdoms that will emerge from his nation but will not have the same power. 23 “In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a fierce-looking king, a master of intrigue, will arise. 24 He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy those who are mighty, the holy people. 25 He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power.
Daniel 11:2–4 (NIV) — 2 “Now then, I tell you the truth: Three more kings will arise in Persia, and then a fourth, who will be far richer than all the others. When he has gained power by his wealth, he will stir up everyone against the kingdom of Greece. 3 Then a mighty king will arise, who will rule with great power and do as he pleases. 4 After he has arisen, his empire will be broken up and parceled out toward the four winds of heaven. It will not go to his descendants, nor will it have the power he exercised, because his empire will be uprooted and given to others.
Daniel 11:24–27 (NIV) — 24 When the richest provinces feel secure, he will invade them and will achieve what neither his fathers nor his forefathers did. He will distribute plunder, loot and wealth among his followers. He will plot the overthrow of fortresses—but only for a time. 25 “With a large army he will stir up his strength and courage against the king of the South. The king of the South will wage war with a large and very powerful army, but he will not be able to stand because of the plots devised against him. 26 Those who eat from the king’s provisions will try to destroy him; his army will be swept away, and many will fall in battle. 27 The two kings, with their hearts bent on evil, will sit at the same table and lie to each other, but to no avail, because an end will still come at the appointed time.
Luke 21:24 (NIV) — 24 They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
The time to receive God’s salvation
2 Co 6:2
2 Corinthians 6:2 (NIV) — 2 For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.
See also Is 49:8; Is 55:6; Heb 4:7
Isaiah 49:8 (NIV) — 8 This is what the Lord says: “In the time of my favor I will answer you, and in the day of salvation I will help you; I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people, to restore the land and to reassign its desolate inheritances,
Isaiah 55:6 (NIV) — 6 Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.
Hebrews 4:7 (NIV) — 7 God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”
The time of God’s judgment
Dt 32:35; Eze 30:3; Zep 2:2; Ac 17:31
Deuteronomy 32:35 (NIV) — 35 It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them.”
Ezekiel 30:3 (NIV) — 3 For the day is near, the day of the Lord is near— a day of clouds, a time of doom for the nations.
Zephaniah 2:2 (NIV) — 2 before the decree takes effect and that day passes like windblown chaff, before the Lord’s fierce anger comes upon you, before the day of the Lord’s wrath comes upon you.
Acts 17:31 (NIV) — 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”
Times appointed for God’s people
Times for worship
Le 23:4
Leviticus 23:4 (NIV) — 4 “ ‘These are the Lord’s appointed festivals, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times:
See also Ex 34:18; Nu 9:2–3; Nu 10:10
Exodus 34:18 (NIV) — 18 “Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread. For seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Aviv, for in that month you came out of Egypt.
Numbers 9:2–3 (NIV) — 2 “Have the Israelites celebrate the Passover at the appointed time. 3 Celebrate it at the appointed time, at twilight on the fourteenth day of this month, in accordance with all its rules and regulations.”
Numbers 10:10 (NIV) — 10 Also at your times of rejoicing—your appointed festivals and New Moon feasts—you are to sound the trumpets over your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, and they will be a memorial for you before your God. I am the Lord your God.”
Times of blessing
Ps 102:13
Psalm 102:13 (NIV) — 13 You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favor to her; the appointed time has come.
See also Eze 34:26; Ac 3:19; Ac 7:17
Ezekiel 34:26 (NIV) — 26 I will make them and the places surrounding my hill a blessing. I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing.
Acts 3:19 (NIV) — 19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,
Acts 7:17 (NIV) — 17 “As the time drew near for God to fulfill his promise to Abraham, the number of our people in Egypt had greatly increased.
A time of vindication
Da 7:21–22
Daniel 7:21–22 (NIV) — 21 As I watched, this horn was waging war against the holy people and defeating them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the holy people of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom.
See also Ac 1:6; Ro 8:18; 1 Pe 5:6
Acts 1:6 (NIV) — 6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
Romans 8:18 (NIV) — 18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
1 Peter 5:6 (NIV) — 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
Times of testing
Ps 66:10; Eze 21:3; Mt 13:21; 1 Pe 1:6–7; Re 2:10
Psalm 66:10 (NIV) — 10 For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver.
Ezekiel 21:3 (NIV) — 3 and say to her: ‘This is what the Lord says: I am against you. I will draw my sword from its sheath and cut off from you both the righteous and the wicked.
Matthew 13:21 (NIV) — 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.
1 Peter 1:6–7 (NIV) — 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Revelation 2:10 (NIV) — 10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.
Times for withdrawal or solitude
Mk 1:35
Mark 1:35 (NIV) — 35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
See also 1 Ki 17:2–6; Mk 6:30–32; Ga 1:17
1 Kings 17:2–6 (NIV) — 2 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: 3 “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. 4 You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.” 5 So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.
Mark 6:30–32 (NIV) — 30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” 32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.
Galatians 1:17 (NIV) — 17 I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus.
Waiting for God’s appointed time
Hab 2:3
Habakkuk 2:3 (NIV) — 3 For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.
See also Ro 8:23–25; Heb 9:28; Heb 11:13
Romans 8:23–25 (NIV) — 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
Hebrews 9:28 (NIV) — 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
Hebrews 11:13 (NIV) — 13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.
Times appointed for Jesus Christ
The appointed time of his birth
Ga 4:4
Galatians 4:4 (NIV) — 4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,
The appointed time of his death
Jn 12:23
John 12:23 (NIV) — 23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
See also Mt 26:18; Mk 14:41; Lk 9:51; Jn 2:4; Jn 7:6–8; Jn 12:27; Jn 13:1
Matthew 26:18 (NIV) — 18 He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’ ”
Mark 14:41 (NIV) — 41 Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners.
Luke 9:51 (NIV) — 51 As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.
John 2:4 (NIV) — 4 “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”
John 7:6–8 (NIV) — 6 Therefore Jesus told them, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. 8 You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.”
John 12:27 (NIV) — 27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.
John 13:1 (NIV) — 1 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
The appointed time of his return
Lk 21:8; Ac 3:20–21; Ac 17:31; 1 Co 4:5; Re 1:3
Luke 21:8 (NIV) — 8 He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them.
Acts 3:20–21 (NIV) — 20 and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. 21 Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.
Acts 17:31 (NIV) — 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”
1 Corinthians 4:5 (NIV) — 5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.
Revelation 1:3 (NIV) — 3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.
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