To Everything There is a Season
by Seattle ALC
The title of this writing is taken from the third chapter of the Book of Ecclesiastes. The author is Solomon who succeeded his father David to the throne and served as the third king of Israel. Early in Solomon’s reign, God appeared to him in a vision and asked him the question: “What shall I give you?” Solomon’s request for an understanding heart to govern the people pleased God so much that He not only granted that humble request, but also promised that He would give him both riches and honor so that there would not be any other among the kings that would be like him as long as he lived.
In such a position– a king with unexcelled wisdom and unparalleled riches-it was- possible for Solomon to acquire everything he wanted. He had houses and vineyards, gardens and orchards, trees and pools, servants and cattle, silver and gold, singers and musical instruments. In fact, he admitted that “Whatsoever my eyes desired, I kept not from them. I withheld not my heart from any joy for my heart rejoiced in all my labor” (Eccl 2:10). But, Solomon went on to explain that all of this was not truly satisfying, saying, “Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labor that I labored to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit (a striving after the wind) and there was no profit under the sun” (Eccl. 2:11). He had learned the truth with which he opened the book of Ecclesiastes: “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labor which he takes under the sun? One generation passes away and another comes, but the earth abides forever.” We might consider this the theme of Solomon’s book.
In the third chapter, Solomon expands on the seasonal nature of life here on earth. In making his list of the things for which there is a season, the first two things mentioned are birth and death- a time to be and some die. This truth is verified every day—some are born and some die. “His days determined; the number of his months is with thee. Thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass” (Job 14: 5). Solomon continued in the same manner, contrasting many of life’s experiences with one another, listing the pleasant and the unpleasant, the joyful and the sorrowful. Because we live in this world of constant change, we never know what a day will bring. From day to day we experience the ebb and flow of life. One Bible scholar likened our experiences here to what he called the “wheel of nature.” In this likeness, sometimes one spoke in the wheel is uppermost and then another moves into that place. But, in spite of constant change, we may rest secure when God is our anchor and His will is our rule of living.
Faith teaches us to place our lives entirely in the hands of God. God has promised that “He has made everything beautiful in his time” (Eccl. 3:11). We should rest confidently in His providential care, knowing that in all things He will work together for good to them that love him and are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8: 28). When we realize our complete dependence upon God, we will neither be elevated beyond measure with unreasonable expectations, nor cast down by unfounded fears, but will dwell safely on the level of grace which God has established for us. He is able to employ all of the experiences which Solomon listed for our spiritual learning, growth and development. He wants us to recognize the futility of living as though our lives consisted in the abundance of the things which we possess. By using these various familiar experiences which God tell us have a season and a purpose in our lives, He is able to lead us to accept and understand that which is written in the last two verses of this book of the Bible. “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (Eccl. 12:13-14). God promised to lengthen Solomon’s days if he would walk in God’s ways and keep the statutes and commandments as his father David had done. Let us strive to walk in God’s ways, and not strive after the wind. Everything under heaven is changeable, but God is constant and the promise of heaven is sure.
By Pastor Emeritus Alvin C. Holmgren Archived Writings, October 1994
Submitted by Pastor Stan
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