Ecclesiastes Chapter 3
Several decades ago there was a popular rock group named "The Byrds" who recorded a number 1 hit song called "Turn! Turn! Turn!" There were many people who knew the words and the tune and could sing the entire song, but were completely unaware that the lyrics were word for word from the 3rd chapter of the Book of Ecclesiastes.
Today, the song is occasionally heard on an oldies but goodies station and the memory of "The Byrds" is quickly fading into that forgotten past that Solomon spoke of. But since the lyrics to the song were taken directly from God's Word, they will endure forever, and we now are privileged to read them, or sing them if you like. Here's verse one:
There are different stages, or seasons, and a time and place for every matter pertaining to a person's life in the flesh, i.e. under heaven.Eccles. 3:1
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
In fact, there are 28 seasons and they are listed in the following verses. For those who are familiar with the significance of numbers in scripture, 28 is composed of 4, which is the number of "earth" as in the 4 seasons, times 7, which is the number of completeness or spiritual perfection.
Did you know that numbers in scripture have significance? They help us to partake of that "hidden manna", giving us a deeper level of understanding. For instance: each time the number 40 is used throughout the Bible it denotes probation or testing. It rained 40 days and 40 nights at the time of the flood. Israel wandered in the wilderness 40 years. Moses was on the mountain 40 days. Christ was tempted of Satan 40 days in the wilderness, etc. Here are a few other numbers and their meanings:
If you'd like to learn more about numbers, let me tell you, there are several good resources available on Biblical numerics. Look them up on the internet. Google Biblical Numbers.5 = grace
6 = man
7 = spiritual perfection
8 = new beginnings
10 = law or ordinal perfection as in the 10 commandments
12 = governmental perfection as in 12 tribes, 12 apostles, etc.
It is worth noting, however, that in the original Hebrew manuscripts the division of the 28 "times" are in 14 verses with 2 "times" in each verse compared with the division by man in the KJV of 7 verses containing 4 "times" in each verse. When you read them in the original division you can't help but notice that there are basically only 14 seasons but with two parts, a positive and negative aspect to each one. Some translators such as Dr. Moffat do display them in English in their original division.
Also, one of the really helpful things we will learn from this 3rd chapter of Ecclesiastes is that these 28 seasons and times happen to everyone, and therefore we should not be taken by surprise by any of the things that happen in our lives, but rather learn to discern the season and times that we are in and then realize that there is a purpose so that we may act accordingly and appropriately.
The other thing we must know is that our Father is in complete control of the times and seasons and though He changes them, He gives the wisdom and knowledge to those with eyes to see and ears to hear as to how to cope and deal with each and every one of them.
Much of that wisdom and knowledge as concerning the flesh man is given right here in the Book of Ecclesiastes. Of course step one in learning to deal with anything is to know what you are dealing with, so learning what the seasons and times are and then learning to recognize what season we are in gives us an advantage in dealing with any thing that comes our way, in our seasons, in our lives.Daniel 2:21
And He changeth the times and the seasons: He removeth kings, and setteth up kings: He giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:
I am also reminded of the lyrics of the famous group, "Chicago", a contemporary band of the "Byrds", who also recorded a hit song with the words "Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care?"
Though not many today do know or do care, we do, so let's learn from the Koheleth, the preacher, even Solomon, concerning the times of our lives, because we're all going through some "times" right now!
Yes, there is a beginning time to our flesh life and an end. There is also a "rebirth" and the death of the old self upon conversion. Of course we didn't choose when it was our season to be born in the flesh, but our heavenly Father did determine and set our birthdays. This we know because we can read an example set forth of the time and place, according to God's plan, when Isaac was "set" to be born. His birth was not random, nor by chance. Neither is your birth by accident or by chance. You are here, at this time, in the season of the fig tree, for a reason. Have you seen through the wisdom of His word your reason for being here at this time? We can see and read the reasons for the time and place of God's servants as recorded in His word, but we are in process of recording our own stories even as we live each day, in as they say "real time". A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
Here are a few verses regarding Isaac's set time to be born:
Always remember that it is God who determines the seasons and the appointed times. And by the way, we are so blessed to be born in this final generation, for it is the time when the prophets and disciples wanted to know what it would be like and to be present NOW, just prior to Christ's return. But they were denied, and it is you and me who were appointed this exciting time in history. What an awesome privilege we have to be thankful for!Genesis 17:21
But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.
Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.
For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.
Concerning "a time to die", that happens just once in the flesh as does being born in the flesh. There is no such thing as reincarnation.
There is also a time to sow and a time to reap. We should be able to recognize when we are sowing and be able to look forward to the harvest of that which we are planting. And to the man "who walks under the sun" there are many applications of planting and reaping. Ask a farmer. Ask a salesman. Ask a teacher. Ask yourself, "Am I sowing or reaping today?"Hebrews 9:27
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
Of course the greatest application of this is contained in the parables of the sower and planting of the "seeds" of the Word of God.
The Hebrew word "kill" used here is not the same word "kill" that is used in the 6th Commandment which properly translated reads "Thou shalt do no murder". There is never a time for premeditated murder, but if a man or woman is convicted of murder then it is time to kill them, to execute them. And if you are defending yourself, or your family, or defending your country, then it is time to kill the enemy. When the killing is over then there is a time to heal. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
And there is a "time to break down, and a time to build up". Do you know folks who are always "breaking down" some thing or someone when they should be building that thing or person up. I guess they really don't know what time it is, do they? Perhaps they don't really care. Perhaps they do and need the wisdom from our Father's Word. It could be the right season for you to plant. "Discern! Discern! Discern!"
Do you know though, that for those with "eyes to see" and "ears to hear" that their times for breaking down and building up are not always the same as those of the world's? For while the world is "building up" Babylon, we are not, and while the world, led by the 4 Hidden Dynasties, is "breaking down" morality and the Word of God, we are not. We are building them up.
Yes, all these seasons of our lives occur naturally. We experience tragedy and then joy. We go to funerals and then weddings. "Turn! Turn! Turn!" A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
But we do also know that when the same season happens to all, while the world is laughing and enjoying the prosperity of the season of the New World Order, we are weeping for the captivity of our people. And when the world weeps and mourns at the fall of that Great City, Babylon (Rev. 18:9-10), we will sing and rejoice and dance, for we know our Lord is come. As it is spoken by Him concerning the times:
Again, it is important that we know and discern the seasons, not just of our natural lives, but of the times as well. For if we are harvested out of season, i.e. "taken" by the first messiah, the false one, then we shall be found laughing when we should be weeping and found weeping and wailing when we should be laughing with joy!Luke 6:21
Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.
"Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care?"
"Turn! Turn! Turn!"
The reference to casting away stones is as "out of a vineyard". There are times when we must first clear away the stones that are in the field in order to plant. We are reminded from the "Song of Moses" in the 32nd chapter of Deuteronomy, that song which will be sung by the overcomers in Rev. 15, that their rock is not our Rock. A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
The times to gather stones together are to build memorials, or to lay a solid foundation.
And not only is there "a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing" such as with your spouse as 1 Cor. 7:5-6 shows, but there are things of this world and doctrines of traditions of men that at one time we embraced, for it was our season to embrace them, but now we must refrain from embracing for we have tasted the truth and been set free from their bondage. (And I personally refrain from hugging trees.)
Have you ever noticed when the "getting" is good how we rejoice and think all is well, and then comes the day when we lose and we think our world has come to an end? But there is a saying that applies to both seasons but which is seldom thought of in "good times" or "get times", but which is longed for in the not so good times. That saying is "This too shall pass"! For you see, the world will continue to Turn! Turn! Turn! And as it does the seasons in our lives will change also. A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
And guess what? Whether you are a just and a good servant of God, or not, you will experience the 28 seasons of life. You will have good days and you will have bad days, you will experience good times and bad times. For it will rain on you just like it rains on the wicked. Here are Christ's own words:
So, it's not what happens to a man or a woman that determines the quality of his or her life, it's what he or she does about what happens. You can have a million dollar home and still have snow in your yard. Imagine that! We must learn to face and deal with reality, and what the heck, we might as well enjoy the seasons, because we know they will change!Matthew 5:45
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.
There is a time to rend and a time to mend. And then there is the timing of the mouth! Some folks don't even know that there is a time to keep silent and some people never speak up when they know they should. So the former may be speaking and not saying anything, the latter may be not speaking and saying much. In keeping with the oldies songs, it reminds me of "The Sounds of Silence" by Simon and Garfunkle, for the lyrics say people are hearing without at all listening and people are talking without saying anything. Everyone is out of season, or they just don't know what time it is. A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
On a deeper level, there is much wisdom in also knowing when to keep silent concerning God's Word and knowing when to speak and perhaps plant a seed. Many have made the mistake of the obnoxious salesman who keeps talking about his product and never listens to the needs or the wants of his prospect. The wise salesman speaks few words and shows by demonstration how it works. Sometimes the prospect will ask questions along the say. Then the salesman speaks. If after sufficient demonstration the prospect sees that it will benefit him then he may or may not want it! So let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven. It doesn't say "let your mouth so flap before men".
Also, God's elect know that there is season coming when it will be time to keep silent temporarily, for at that time they will discern that the season to be delivered up and the time to speak, fast approaches.
Yes, and while the world will be loving Satan in his role as the spurious messiah, believing that he is Jesus Christ, we will be hating him, for he is our adversary and our enemy. It will be a time of great peace for the world, but it will be our season for WAR! But then if you are a student of His Word you already know this concerning the times and the seasons as the apostle Paul so stated in 1 Thes. 5. A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
"Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care?"1 Thes. 5:1
But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.
1 Thes. 5:3
For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
"Turn! Turn! Turn!" Our Father will soon give this "world age" a final spin.
We learned from the wisest man who ever lived, with the exception of our Lord of course, that there are 28 times of life, or seasons, that occur to all those who "walk under the sun", which means to all those who dwell in flesh, earthly bodies. We also learned that no matter what our status is in life, we shall experience both good times and bad times, and just in knowing this we should not be surprised by the events that happen in our lives, but should rather be able to recognize and identify them as they occur.
AND, in addition to knowing that we can EXPECT to experience both positive and negative events in our lives, there is the profound wisdom of this chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes in knowing that the season we are in now WILL CHANGE! Turn! Turn! Turn! It will pass away! Yes, both the joy and the sorrow will give way to a new day. So we should enjoy the good times to their fullest, knowing that they won't last forever, and deal "head on" with the bad times, knowing they won't last either.
Those three "gems of wisdom" alone, i.e. (1) knowing what the 28 seasons are, (2) knowing the seasons, both good and bad, are coming our way and to expect them (in fact we're in some now), and (3) knowing that the seasons will change, will help us to not only to deal with reality but be able to have a positive mental attitude even in the bad times.
But it gets even better!
We already know from Eccles. 3:1 that there is a "purpose to every season under heaven", and we are going to see in verses 17 and 18 that the "purpose" is for the "testing" of the sons of God. No, not to test the flesh, but to test the soul who is given charge over it! Having a bad day? It's only a test!
So let's think about it! Let's put it all in the perspective that Solomon is showing us. All that is "under the sun" is vanity, right? He tried everything that money and power can command to try and find happiness and peace of mind for the flesh! But he could not, for nothing lasted! Why? It's all temporary! The seasons keep changing! It's all just for the testing of God's children and it will all eventually pass away. Your flesh and all you materially build and accumulate while living in it, will someday be gone!
We continue now listening to Solomon pass on wisdom to those who will hear:
Eccles. 3:9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?
"I have seen the business that God has given man to keep them busy." (N.A.S. translation) I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.
Solomon, the wisest of all men, has seen all the vocations and labors God has given to men and considered what profit it brings to them.
Here's a real travail for man. We could start with just the exercise of trying to understand and define eternity. Too bad! Our minds are limited, just like all our other flesh senses. We can only see so far. If we could see all the molecules in the air we breath, we would be blinded. If we could hear all the sounds in our city we would be as deaf. We can only reach about three feet. 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.
And so it is with the flesh mind. Here's a simple exercise to demonstrate the power of your mind. Close your eyes and picture 3 carrots. No problem! Now close your eyes and picture exactly 147 carrots. Can't do it, right? Good luck picturing eternity.
However, there is really more to what is being said in verse 11. What does it mean "He set the world in their heart?" When you study the Bible it is always important to go back to the original languages and look up the meanings of words. We highly recommend the Strong's Concordance. Here's the word "world":
world `owlam, o-lawm', Hebrew 5769; or olam, o-lawm'; from Hebrew 5956 (`alam); properly concealed, i.e. the vanishing point; generally time out of mind (past or future), i.e. (practical) eternity; frequent adverb (especially with prepositional prefix) always :- alway (-s), ancient (time), any more, continuance, eternal, (for, [n-]) ever (-lasting, -more, of old), lasting, long (time), (of) old (time), perpetual, at any time, (beginning of the) world (+ without end). Compare Hebrew 5331 (netsach), Hebrew 5703 (`ad).You can see from the definition that "world" means "age", sort of like cosmos in the Greek, but certainly not the physical earth itself. What this verse is saying is that God has hid the knowledge of the "three earth ages (2 Pet. 3)", which you could say is eternity, in our minds. This is accomplished by being born in the flesh.
Look at it this way. When a baby is conceived our Father places one of the souls of His sons in that embryo, according to its time as set by Him. Of course, that is why each child born has his or her own personality "right out of the gate", so to speak. But when the baby is born, its brain, let's liken it to a computer hard drive, is newly formatted, in that it contains no data, no knowledge. It's blank. In other words, there is no knowledge of the events that happened in the "*world that then was". We do not remember Satan's rebellion or his overthrow. You see, that's what being born "innocent" means, no prior knowledge.
Now, with the limitation of the flesh mind which we demonstrated with carrots, there is absolutely no way, apart from the revelation of His Word, that "man can find out the work that God makes from the beginning to the end". He can come up with all the evolution and Big Bang theories he wants to, but he'll never know in the flesh, apart from God. But, with His Word (our Bible) we can know the past and the future, and the purpose of the times! Are we privileged children or what?
*Note: If you are new to our studies and are not familiar with the three earth ages then read the first few studies of Genesis or Ephesians or both.
OK, back to all the labors we do. Says Solomon:
Since all is vanity, we might as well rejoice and do good in our lives, which will bring cause for more rejoicing.Eccles. 3:12 I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.
Enjoy the fruits of your OWN labor. If you are "storing up" and building an estate (past the prudence of wise savings for the time of a rainy "season"), and not enjoying the life you can afford, then you are missing out on one of the blessings of God. And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.
The word "for ever" in this verse is the same as "owlam" in verse 11. Our Father, the Alpha and the Omega, never changes. What He does is eternal and we can't change it. Can we stop the sun from rising tomorrow? No, nor can we alter His plan of salvation. 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.
His works are visible that men should see them and love Him for them. Oh where is wisdom?
There is nothing new under the sun. There is always a type from the past, even from the "world that then was". It has all been done before. Even in the history of this earth age we have example after example, type after type, of the way it is and the way it is going to be! History repeats itself. As Paul told us in 1 Cor. 10:11 concerning the events in the Old Testament: That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.
That which happened to Solomon is for us TODAY.1 Cor. 10:11
Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
The courts of justice are full of wickedness and corruption, such as plea bargaining, precedent law, political correctness, etc. And what about the churches where righteousness should prevail. They are full of vanity, iniquity, and mass deception through the traditions of men.Eccles. 3:16 And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.
There is a time coming when all will be judged. Turn, turn, turn, until everyone has their turn! 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.
Here it is. Look up the word manifest and you'll find it means to purify, to purge, to test. I call it "earth school". It's our opportunity to find out that apart from God we are no different that animals. In fact, those who are apart from God already believe they are descended from animals. Certainly their mentality has not been elevated above the beasts. 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.
This is a "no brainer". All flesh is vanity and temporal. We all breath the same air, eat from the same ground (dirt transformed by incredible little organic factories into fruits and veggies, which are nothing more than delicious tasting fuels to burn in our flesh bodies), and then we die just like the animals. 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.
Remember that we are talking about the flesh bodies only, whether of man or animal. They all die and decompose. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.
Again, this question cannot be determined and answered by carrot heads apart from the wisdom of God's revelation in His Word (I'm not referring to "red heads". They are called "carrot tops" not carrot heads.) Solomon will answer this question in chapter 12 where we will discuss it in more detail. Here's what he will say: Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?
The spirit, the son of God who was "tied in that flesh body", will be "cut loose" at death and return to God. Meanwhile the flesh will return to dust. The flesh is worthless in the long run anyway, because flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom. Once we are done with it we will never return to it. Paul makes all this perfectly clear in 1 Cor. 15.Eccles. 12:6
Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.
 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
And so the wisest man who ever lived perceived and just told us that there is nothing better in the flesh than to be happy and content with our portion in this present life and to enjoy and rejoice in our own works. Hey, it's a choice! You don't even want to see what shall be after you when you die, i.e. the tax man, the lawyers and the probate courts.Eccles. 3:22 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?
Now go and enjoy today! It is God's gift to you!
And remember, "Today is the Tomorrow you worried about Yesterday". Was it worth it? Did it do any good?
To study the Bible is the noblest of all pursuits;
to understand it, the highest of all goals.
We pray that with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, you accomplish both.
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