Summary: In today's lesson we learn that the sovereign God set the times forever so that people will stand in awe before him.
The writer of Ecclesiastes, also known as “Qoheleth” and “the Preacher,” wanted to know how to live a meaningful life. He tried all kinds of ways to live a meaningful life. In today’s text he talks about how there is a time for everything.
Listen to how the Preacher put it in Ecclesiastes 3:1-15:
1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break 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 cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, 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 gain has the worker from his toil? 10 I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 12 I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; 13 also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.
14 I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. 15 That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-15)
We live in a time in which people do not stand in awe before God. We are so busy that we forget him. We are so consumed with our own agendas that we hardly think about God.
When the Preacher wrote this message to the people of God, they, too, were forgetful of God. They were busy buying and selling, making fortunes and losing them, and without much thought of God. They did not stand in awe before God. The Preacher began to counter this problem by reminding the people of God in his time—and ours—that there is a time for everything.
The Preacher opened the book of Ecclesiastes with an introduction of himself (1:1), a statement of his theme (1:2), and a poetic summary of his theme (1:3-11).
His theme is simple: all is vanity.
The Hebrew word for vanity means “vapor” or “breath.” It refers to that which is meaningless, futile, ephemeral, and passing.
So the Preacher’s theme is that everything in life is meaningless. For twelve and a half chapters he demonstrates his theme.
However, the Preacher eventually gives a corrective. He says that everything in life is meaningless without God. His ultimate purpose is to show that we can live a meaningful life only when we live it in a right relationship to God. If we don’t live our lives in a right relationship to God, then indeed everything in life is meaningless. But, if we do live our lives in a right relationship to God, then everything in life is meaningful.
The Preacher explored several areas of life to demonstrate that all is vanity, that everything in life is meaningless without God. He explored wisdom (1:12-18), pleasure (2:1-11), wise living (2:12-17), and toil (2:18-26). And in each of these areas he discovered that apart from God, we do not gain anything.
In his continuing quest to find how to live a meaningful life, the Preacher turned his attention to time.
In today’s lesson we learn that the sovereign God set the times forever so that people will stand in awe before him.
I. The Thesis Statement: For Everything There Is a Season (3:1)
First, let’s look at the thesis statement. The thesis statement is given in Ecclesiastes 1:1: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”
There is an appropriate time for everything. Human life is not haphazard. The Preacher proclaims that there is a proper “time for every matter under heaven.”
A. A Poem About the Times (3:2-8)