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Beautiful In His Own Time (Eccl. 3:1-15)

Searching For Heaven On Earth  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  39:30
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Time has no meaning apart from God.

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Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV
To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:
Beautiful In His Own Time
Time has no meaning apart from God
Eccl. 3:1-15
So far in Ecclesiastes, Solomon has taught that if this cursed world is all there is, then all of our actions in this life are futile. We do things that don’t matter, and then we die.
In that reality nothing in which you look for meaning, and nothing you turn to in to distract yourself from the harsh realities of life, really works.
Pleasure will not satisfy human longings; neither will wisdom or work or a lot of money or any of the things we expend so much energy chasing.
Solomon’s purpose is to expose the foolishness of a life lived without God in order to push us to enjoy God and His gifts. Satisfaction in God and His gifts is the meaningful life.
The Spirit’s ultimate point in inspiring Ecclesiastes is to teach us that everything is meaningless unless you have Jesus.
The time poem in Ecclesiastes 3 is another example to prove Solomon’s thesis that life “under heaven” is futile and fleeting.
Time does not comfort; time haunts because it is fleeting and filled with sorrow that cancels out joy. Like watching sand run through the hourglass, you watch your life run out.
We feel this tension and foreboding in our own lives. It is revealed to us in phrases like, “Where did the time go?” “There aren’t enough hours in the day.” “I’ve got to make the most of my time.” “When will my time come?” (Eswine, Recovering Eden, 126).
For some, most likely those in adulthood, time moves way too fast. The moment you begin to figure out and enjoy one season, you are on to the next one.
Time will not slow down for you to enjoy anything. Each year passes more quickly than the last.
For others, most likely the young, you are frustrated by the slowness of time. You cannot wait for more freedom, for your driver’s license, to be done with school, or to be out on your own.
Time frustrates all of us. Why is that? What should we do about it? Let us look to God’s Word in Ecclesiastes 3:1–15 for the answer.1
1 Daniel L. Akin and Jonathan Akin, Exalting Jesus in Ecclesiastes (Nashville, TN: Holman Reference, 2016), Ec 3:1–15.
Again, Solomon limits his observations to this present world when in Ecclesiastes 3:1 he states that for everything there is an occasion and a time for every activity under heaven.
An occasion is a period of time in which certain activities take place. For example, winter is the period for snow, ice, and below-zero wind chills.
Thus, the text states that there is an appointed time or season for every activity, and life moves from one season to the next.
My son, Jacob, when he was 24 months old, it was perfectly appropriate for him to be pushed around the supermarket in a shopping cart, but if he is 28 years old and doing the same thing, then there is a major problem.
We move from one season to the next as we grow up.
When you were in high school and saw what the “rat race” did to your dad, you said to your buddy that you would never grow up and get a nine-to-five job, you would never wear a suit, and you would never settle down.
But 20 years later you sit at lunch break from your nine-to-five job with your friend, both wearing suits and saying to each other, “How did we ever end up here?” (Begg, “Eternity on My Mind”).
Life moves from one season to the next and one activity to the next.
1 Some Impressions About Life
The point of the poem is the inevitable sameness and monotony of life under the sun. We all go through these actions of birth, life, work, love, and then death.
Nothing really changes for humanity. Meaninglessness in life and death in the end pervade our experience in this cursed world. Here today and gone tomorrow. This is just the way it is.
What gain is there in this reality? What profit or advantage is there in this world where God has imposed a curse on our toil and activities (see Gen 3:17–19)?
The answer is nothing. There is no purpose to life because everything we do is nullified by the curse. There is no net gain or change from all the planting, building, and warring.
There is just more work to do, more dishes to clean, more wars to fight with no lasting peace, and all of it ends in death.
The poem in Ecclesiastes 1:3–11 makes this case in nature with its endless but profitless cycles, and now Solomon makes the same point about human activity, both realities being set by God (Enns, Ecclesiastes, 52).
The poem reveals the great absurdity of life because each activity cancels the other out. There are 14 pluses and 14 minuses, and that adds up to zero (Begg, “Eternity on My Mind”)!
Every birth ends in death, every planted crop is pulled up, every building is eventually condemned, every celebration gives way to a funeral, and every peace gives way to another war.
Nothing is gained. Let’s see how this plays out in vs. 2-8 (see DJC)

A. How time affects our body (vs. 2-3)

B. How time affects our soul (vs. 4-5)

C. How time affects our Spirit (vs. 6-8)

2 Some Insights about God (vs. 11)
A. His plan is good (vs. 11a)
B. His purpose is clear (vs. 11b)
C. His program is mysterious (vs. 11c)
The limit of man’s knowledge is a major theme in Ecclesiastes, and the purpose of exposing that reality is to drive us to faith in God.
We know there is more out there, and we want to know our purpose and our destiny.
However, we are still dependent creatures who can only know and handle a sliver of what the Creator is really doing.
And if we doubt in any way the truth of that statement, we need to be reminded that, mysterious as it may be, when the Son of God set aside His glory and took on human flesh, even He did not know all the times set by God (Matt 24:36).
As Matt Chandler points out, we are like a child in the “why stage” (“Ingredients”). When you tell a child in the why stage to do something, he or she can ask “Why?” into infinity, and eventually you have to say in exasperation, “Because I told you so.
In a sense we cannot handle all of the whys of God’s plan, so He tells us, “Even though you cannot know it all, you can trust Me!”
We perceive and long for better things than this cursed misery, but we cannot see the full picture, and we must lean on God. We are trapped between time and eternity, and we must trust that God uses the details to work out a grander plan. (see DJC)
3 Some Instructions about living
A. Don’t forfeit enjoyment because of what you can’t understand (vs. 11)
B. Don’t forget to be thankful for God’s gifts to you (vs. 12-13)
C. Don’t fear life; fear God (vs. 14-15)
While we live in this cursed existence east of Eden and long for the Redeemer promised in Genesis 3:15 and hope to once again have access to the tree of life, we know something better is out there.
And in this context the Bible tells us about our God, that “when the time came to completion” (Gal 4:4), God sent His Son Jesus into this cursed world to experience all of the times and seasons that we do.
There was a time for Jesus to be born, a time for Him to heal the sick, a time for Him to build up, a time for Him to tear down long-held structures, a time for Him to party with sinners, a time for Him to weep at his friend’s grave, and a time for Him to die.
He entered into this miserable world to take on all of its pain and suffering. He took the curse on Himself so that God could turn the evil of the cross—wicked men murdering the Son of God—into the salvation of the world.
Romans 8 tells us our lives fit into this same plan, where joy and pain ultimately bring us into conformity with Christ.
Friends, don’t resist the hands of the divine potter. He is in control of every event and every “time” of your life.
He will prod and poke, push and pull, but he has a purpose for it all. He’s making your life beautiful in his own time.
There is a reason God wove the seasons into the fabric of creation. There is a reason why there are seedtime and harvest.
There is a reason there are winter and spring, and it is not so that we do not get bored. God created the seasons to point us to Christ.
So when we look outside in the literal dead of winter at trees with no leaves and barrenness all around, we know that in a few months or even weeks everything will spring to life again.
God wove winter and harvest into the fabric of creation to show humanity that Jesus would be raised from the dead and make all things new.
All of the times of our lives and the seasons point us to find our rest in Him because He is the One working out the ultimate plan to make all things new!
Without God, no afterlife and no day of accountability, the times of our life are meaningless.
But with God he has a plan and purpose for us all, and he is in the process of making all things work together for good, and to mold and shape us into a vessel of honor, a vessel and life that will be beautiful in his own time.
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