Chapter 3: God’s Timing, God’s Purpose & God’s Justice

Timing is everything… God’s justice and God’s purposes are often revealed in the timing of things Make no mistake, God is in control of when, how and why everything happens In the search for meaning we often ask: why do things happen when they do? We try to see what God’s doing, what are His purposes in events, we desire to see God enact justice, at least our ideas of what justice is. But the reality is we don’t get the whole picture. Chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes addresses these issues, and if we read it in light of Christ we get some insight, some revelation, but it’s not complete. Paul writes in 1 Cor 13:12: ‘Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror…’ But that partial vision is enough to build our faith upon!

1 For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.

  • This is a statement of God’s ordering of all things
  • ‘Under Heaven’ = Under the authority of heaven

2 A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. 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 cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. 5 A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.

  • None of these things can happen at the same time
  • You do one or the other, not both

A time to embrace and a time to turn away. 6 A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. 7 A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. 8 A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.

  • What makes it the right time for something?
  • For us who live for the fulfillment of God’s will, we take our cues from Him!

9 What do people really get for all their hard work? 10 I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. 11 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

  • Is it worth it? If our work has no eternal aspect to it, what’s the point?
  • When we align ourselves with God’s purposes, we can find meaning in work.
  • He has given us the tools to see some of what matters.

12 So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. 13 And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.

  • If our reality flows from the truth of God, we will see everything as His gift to us
  • The humility of the ‘Creature’ receiving gifts from the ‘Creator’

14 And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him. 15 What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again.

  • God’s will is the determiner of all things, not our ‘Free Will’
  • We bring nothing to the table (whether we think we do or not)
  • A belief in something does not make it true
  • What is contained in the idea of ‘The Fear of the Lord’?
  • Why does God make the same things happen over and over again?

16 I also noticed that under the sun there is evil in the courtroom. Yes, even the courts of law are corrupt! 17 I said to myself, “In due season God will judge everyone, both good and bad, for all their deeds.”

  • Human justice is always corrupt! Believing otherwise is to deny our ‘Sin Nature’
  • God will have the final say of what justice is or not
  • How would we be so arrogant as to think we can define justice?

18 I also thought about the human condition—how God proves to people that they are like animals. 19 For people and animals share the same fate—both breathe and both must die. So people have no real advantage over the animals. How meaningless! 20 Both go to the same place—they came from dust and they return to dust.

  • The reality of our mortality
  • In our natural state; without being regenerated by God’s Spirit we are animals
  • Life apart from a redeemed relationship with our creator is MEANINGLESS!

21 For who can prove that the human spirit goes up and the spirit of animals goes down into the earth? 22 So I saw that there is nothing better for people than to be happy in their work. That is our lot in life. And no one can bring us back to see what happens after we die.

  • We can’t prove eternity, we can only believe it by faith
  • “Heaven, a place that has to be believed to be seen” U2, Walk On
  • No one can prove where your eternal spirit goes
  • We are limited by our senses

Application Questions:

What specific criteria do you use to figure out when the time to do something is right?

If He’s planted eternity in our hearts, why can’t we see the scope of God’s workings?

Is your ‘free will’ able to add to or take away from what God does? Why?

How do you decide what is just or not?

What do you believe about eternity and why?