A TIME FOR THAT – Part One
You are probably very familiar with Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 where Solomon begins with this “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” Thereafter, he lists many of the works of mankind and natural processes of life – birth and death, sewing and reaping, etc. (By the way, I’ve pasted Ecc. 3:1-8 at the end of this blog, in case you want to read it in its entirety.)
In 1965, a band called The Birds released a song called “Turn! Turn! Turn!” that used verses from this section of scripture. Wes is teaching this song to some young ladies at church and it made me think about the scripture it is based on.
I don’t want to contradict the wisest man of all time, Solomon, or even one of the greatest rock bands of all time (The Birds), but for Christians, I wonder if there really is a time for some of the things that Solomon listed in Ecclesiastes 3?
A time to kill? A time to hate? A time of war? Solomon was not just any random wise man. He had been gifted his great wisdom by God.
However, Solomon was also the king of a nation. So, perhaps, he had reason to feel that he needed to think about when there might be at time in which that nation should go to war and a time to hate and kill Israel’s enemies.
Let’s look at this well-known segment of scripture and see if we can apply it to our lives from the viewpoint of a Christian’s life and purpose. And because there is so much to think about regarding this scripture, I will be doing this in at least two blogs.
“A time to be born, and a time to die”
I cannot argue with the fact that in this life we each have our time to be born and we each face death of this mortal body.
However, we Christians don’t just consider the time of our human birth – when, after about nine months, we exited a mother’s womb into the world and breathed our first breaths of air. For Christians, we must also understand that there is a time to be “born again.” This is what Jesus explained to Nicodemus in John 3-7. I’ll just quote part of that here:
John 3:5-6 [NKJV] 5 Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
In addition, when we think of “a time to be born and a time to die,” we Christians should be thinking that at the time of being “born of the spirit” – that is also the time of the death of the “old self” which stays down in the watery “grave” at baptism – that the “old man” has been crucified with Christ. [See Romans 6:3-11]
It is this death that frees us from the confines of a life of sin. Romans 6:7 [KJV] For he that is dead is freed from sin.
For followers of Christ, there is the time beyond the death of self and being symbolically reborn as a Christian. For us, there is more than the death of the old man and the death of this mortal body. For us, there is also “a time to be resurrected.” In 1 Corinthians15:52 [ESV] we read, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.”
For a Christian, there awaits so much more than just a time to be born and a time to die in the flesh.
“Time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted”
I have a garden and have experienced the issues of planting too early or too late, as well as being out of town and missing the best time to harvest. I also know that, after a garden has run its course and the growing season is over, in order to prepare for the next growing season, you pluck up all the remaining stems and roots of the now-spent annual plants.
As Christians, we ought to think about more than just planting flowers and vegetables when we read this. We should also think about what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:6-9 [ESV] 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God's fellow workers. You are God's field, God's building.
Just as we, individually, represent God’s field, we are also to be working with Him in the planting of other fields for God.
Jesus knew that the work of the harvest might seem daunting, so He offered this in Matthew 9:37-38 [NKJV] 37 Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest truly [is] plentiful, but the laborers [are] few. 38 "Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."
Although our work of sewing the see of God’s word in this world is never without reward, we know that not all of it will bear fruit. [See Mark 4:4-9 and 13-20] We are to sew anyway. Our work of sewers in the fields of this earth only ends when God harvests us out of our mortal bodies – either to await the resurrection in the grave or at the return of Jesus.
There is a time for us to plant spiritual seed, which will be part of God’s great harvest at the time of Christ’s return and beyond.
“A time to kill, and a time to heal”
Jesus, in His ministry on this earth, often used the gift of healing right along with Gospel preaching. [See Matthew 4:23 and 9:35] I believe it made His message all the more impactful.
Of the gifts of the spirit outlined in 1 Corinthians 12, this verse creates the most longing for me: 1 Corinthians 12:9 [NLT] 9 The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. How I would LOVE to raise children up off their hospital beds and remove the cancer from their bodies or give sight to the blind, etc. I have personally been healed and witnessed healing in my lifetime. I don’t have the gift, though. And, I have also seen many times when God has allowed the disease (mostly cancer in the case of my family) to kill. It was, as we say, “their time.”
For Christians, there is also time to heal broken relationships. As much as is in our own control, be ought to be working at that type of healing whenever there is something that needs healing between us. It is always a good time to be working at healing a relationship.
The only thing we Christians should be focused on killing are the “deeds of the flesh” - as outlined in Romans 8:13 [KJV] For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. It is always a time for killing the deeds of the flesh.
That’s it for this blog, part one of A Time for That. Solomon and I may not be on the same page on these things. He may have only been thinking about how life works, not about how a Believer should comport herself. But his words give us plenty to think about.
I welcome your comments and questions. You can write me at Nancy@DynamicChristianMinistries.org.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 [KJV] 1 To every [thing there is] a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up [that which 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 get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7 A time to rend, 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 of war, and a time of peace.