It is impossible to dig deeper into, or even to surface scrape the Book of Ecclesiastes without becoming aware of some of the conflict in Christian circles around the Book, let alone, outside of Christian circles. There is controversy surrounding the identity and number of persons who authored the Book, the date of its authorship and even its Divine inspiration. All Believers in Christ owe it to ourselves to at least be aware of these controversies, and to construct our own position.
I stand behind the Solomonic authorship of Ecclesiastes, but yet I am fully aware of some of the problems of internal and canonical consistency that arises in Ecclesiastes. I will give you just one of the many examples cited. Ecclesiastes 2:2 says, “I said of partying, “It is folly,” and of self-indulgent pleasure, “It accomplishes nothing!” Also, Ecclesiastes 7:3 says, “Sorrow is better than laughter, because sober reflection is good for the heart.” Now compare those two verses on the one hand, with Ecclesiastes 8:15 and a verse from today’s text, Ecclesiastes 3:12-13, on the other hand. These verses do not constitute a contradiction, but you will readily see why, when read together, these verses could provide some challenges.
That said, having concluded that Solomon authored the Book of Ecclesiastes and that God inspired the author and its content, Let us scrape the surface of Chapter 3:1-14:
Here are the pivotal points.
- There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity. (verses 1-8)
- Though of temporary duration, the worker is expected to enjoy his toil and benefit from it (verse 9 & 13)
- God has made everything with beauty that is appropriate to the time and season in which it finds itself. (verse 11)
- He has also set Eternity in the heart of humans, as distinct from animals, but only with a limited awareness of our relevance to, and understanding and expectation of eternity, and definitely not nearly enough for us to be able to fully understand our Eternal Creator. (verse 11)
- There is nothing better than for us to be happy and to do good and thereby create the environment for us to eat and drink and find satisfaction in our labor. (verse 13)
- The preceding is the Gift of God. (verse 13)
- Everything God does will last forever, in contradistinction to everything that man does. This obvious distinction between the actions of God and man is designed by God so as to cause man to fear Him.. (verse 14)
Only what we do for God will last. The mirror on the wall reminds us of our changing times, and in many ways we must change with time. And yet our consciousness of Eternity should be enough to remind us that God, our eternal reference point, is unchanging. Therefore in every changing season of our lives, we are expected to relate to our unchanging Creator in ways that please Him.
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