Ecclesiastes 3 Meaning Commentary

Now, as we move on to chapter 3 for our Ecclesiastes 3 Meaning article, it seems like God gets back out of the picture again. He isn’t mentioned in the first 8 verses. And yet I think the message of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is still fairly positive. In these verses we see time viewed from a human perspective. And even from a human perspective, time is viewed as orderly. And that’s a good thing.

Season

So, there’s an appointed time – or “season” – for everything. And there’s a time for every activity or event – or as the KJV says, “purpose” – under the sun. Everything that happens on earth has an appointed time. It all happens in such an orderly manner. Again, this is a good thing.

3:1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven:

Birth and Death

There’s a time when you’re born. And that’s a time of joy. A time of newness. Of beginnings. There’s hope. There are aspirations. Plans are made. Parents prepare themselves to guide this new life through the various twists and turns that the world will present.

a time to be born,
and a time to die;

And just like there’s a time for birth, there’s also a time for death. It happens to all. It’s appointed for a man once to die.

Some people like to say that the death process is beautiful. Now, there’s a real sense in which death is very ugly. It isn’t the way that God originally created things. He didn’t make things to die. It’s an enemy and the result of sin.

And yet, even this ugly sad process has a place in life under the sun.

The joy and anticipation of birth is met and – from the vantage point of this life – overwhelmed by the sorrow and pain of death.

The newness of birth gives way to the finality of death.

This can be depressing. But you cannot deny that it’s orderly. Things begin and things end in this life. That’s just the way it is under the sun.

Planting and Uprooting

There’s also a time to plant and a time to pluck up or uproot. Farmers and amateur gardeners know about this.

a time to plant,
and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

There’s a time to plant your vegetables. You do so in hope of a harvest. You have plans for what you’re going to do with your vegetables and fruit and such.

And then the end of the season comes – and the very things you yourself planted with your own hands – now you’re uprooting them. And the uprooting happens at a certain time. You don’t just harvest when you feel like it. No – the crops give you signs that its time to uproot. And when the appointed orderly time comes, you do what comes naturally.

And unlike the life/death cycle we just spoke of previously, there’s really no sense of loss or grief with planting and reaping. At the same time, this cycle is just like the previous one – in the sense that it’s orderly.

Killing and Healing

Next, there’s a time to kill and a time to heal.

a time to kill,
and a time to heal;

If Qoheleth is looking at this from a perspective of agriculture – maybe he moves on from the last cycle of planting and harvesting crops to now speaking of taking care of animals.

There is a time to kill an animal – a cow or goat or chicken – whatever animals one might have on a farm. You raise that chicken or goat for a while – but the whole time you’re doing it with the end of slaughtering it and eating it eventually.

And yet – if while you’re engaged in that process, the chicken gets sick or injured or whatever – you’re going to try your best to heal it.

Those two actions – killing and healing – seem contradictory. But you and I know that in the cycles of life, these two things can and do happen together constantly. And they happen at the right time – in an orderly fashion.

Breaking Down and Building Up

Further, there’s a time to break down and a time to build up.

a time to break down,
and a time to build up;

I imagine that if we’re still on the farm in Qoheleth’s mind then this is either referring to a wall or to a house or maybe to a temporary shelter of some kind.

Maybe he’s thinking of pulling down an old barn and raising a new one.

Weeping and Laughing

Moving on, Ecclesiastes 3:4 tells us that there’s a time to weep and a time to laugh. There are appropriate times for each of these activities.

a time to weep,
and a time to laugh;

You wouldn’t necessarily laugh at a funeral. I mean, there might be some real joy in either of these venues. But you would think a person strange who was just spontaneously laughing during a solemn funeral ceremony.

You’d also think it odd if someone was weeping at the joyful birth of his child. Or at his wedding. Not just a tear here or there – but full-blown weeping. You would start worrying about that relationship if the groom was sobbing uncontrollably during the vows.

The point again is that there’s a right orderly time for everything on earth. Time – viewed from man’s perspective – is orderly. And that’s a good thing.

Mourning and Dancing

Similarly, there’s a time to mourn and a time to dance.

a time to mourn,
and a time to dance;

This is similar to the last phrase we looked at. And let me just say that – yes, dancing is good. It’s good – just like music is good or like clothing is good. It’s good when it’s done in a non-sensual manner. David danced. Miriam and the daughters of Israel danced. And it wasn’t wrong of them to do that. When it becomes wrong is when it’s sexualized in public.

So with that disclaimer, yes, there is a time to dance.

There’s also a time to mourn.

There’s an appropriate time for each of these activities.

Throwing and Gathering Stones

Next, there’s a time to throw stones and a time to gather them. Now, it’s simple enough to see what this text says. But it’s rather difficult to get at its meaning.

a time to cast away stones,
and a time to gather stones together;

Meaning: Sex?

Some say it’s a euphemism for sexual relations. And that might possibly fit with the next statement about embracing. Though I’m not sure how folks who think that this is what it’s talking about would prove their case. I didn’t see where else this phrase was used of sexual relations. So, I’d tend to think that’s not what this is speaking of.

Meaning: Revenge?

Others say it has to do with the practice of throwing stones into the field of an enemy to ruin his crops. But, I kind of doubt that Qoheleth is sanctioning that kind of destructive unloving behavior.

Meaning: Children’s Game

Or is this speaking more on the level of children’s activites? Maybe he has in mind the games that kids play. There’s a time when they throw the stones. And there’s a time that they need to gather them up… only in order to throw them again! That would fit in well with the cyclical nature of things on this earth — gather them, throw them, and on and on.

Meaning: Death Penalty

The only other possibility I could think of is perhaps this is speaking of stoning as a death penalty. There is a time – in ancient Israel, at least – to throw stones at a convicted criminal. And there would be a corresponding time of gathering those stones together – probably in order to use them again as an agent of punishment.

So, there are a number of interpretative options with that one, but I think it’s probably either referring to kids’ games or stoning as a death penalty.

Embracing or Not

Then we have that there’s a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing.

a time to embrace,
and a time to refrain from embracing;

And I think this is speaking of interpersonal relationships.

Jesus himself knew what this was like. There was a time when he could rightly embrace each of his disciples. But then a day came when he would say in the words of David, “he who eats my bread has lifted up his heel against me,” referring to Judas. There was a betrayal in his life. And so the one whom he would normally embrace is now one he would not embrace.

And I don’t doubt that you personally have experienced that kind of reversal in relationships you’ve had. It’s heartbreaking. But there’s an appropriate time for each action.

You wouldn’t embrace one who has betrayed you – unless there’s been some serious reconciliation, of course. And you wouldn’t refrain from embracing someone close to you.

There’s an appropriate time for each of these postures.

Searching and Calling It Quits

Then there’s a time to get and a time to lose. Or – really – a time to search and a time to give up as lost what you’re searching for.

a time to seek,
and a time to lose;

Our oldest son used a pacifier when he was a baby. And there came a time when we wanted to get him to stop using the pacifier. We planned and prayed about how to get him to stop. Because we had heard how difficult it is for some kids to relinquish the pacifier. So, with a lot of prayer and planning, we were going to implement the “de-pacifiering”. But the thing was that one day my wife was with him at the table. And he was eating. My wife was making some food and had her back turned to him. He had his pacifier and he had taken it out of his mouth and it was in his hand. My wife remembers hearing him throw the pacifier to the ground. We looked for that thing for a while. There was – for us – a time to search for it. Not that we wanted it back – we just wanted to know where it was! But as much as we searched, we couldn’t find that thing! We asked our son where it went. He didn’t know. We ended up moving out of the apartment and we still couldn’t find it. So, hopefully someone since then has found it and put it to good use.

I give that as an illustration of the search process and the end of that process when you need to give up on the thing as lost forever. There’s an appropriate time for both events in this life.

Keeping and Throwing Away

Next, there’s a time to keep and a time to throw away.

a time to keep,
and a time to cast away;

My wife and I were in rare form on Friday. We somehow were given grace to go into cleaning mode. Oh, we were throwing away stuff left and right. It was great. I even got rid of some 3 ½ ” floppy drives. You might not even know what those are! Yeah, some of my wife’s old college papers were on them. And I had just kept them – maybe I could excuse my hoarding instincts as biblical. I mean, there is “a time to keep”, after all. No, that’s not why I did it, of course. But there is a time to keep. I mean, sometimes it’s fun to look at those documents. And you never know when you might want to access them. But when you don’t even have a device that can read the files anymore, you know it might be the appropriate time to – as Qoheleth says – throw away. And so, that was our appropriate event Friday – to throw a bunch of stuff out – magazines, old electronics, papers – it was the appropriate time to throw those things away.

Rending and Sewing

There’s also a time to rend and a time to sew. There’s a time to rip a garment apart and a time to sew it back up together.

a time to rend,
and a time to sew;

A lot of my old clothing ends up as rags around our house. Sometimes I see pieces of an old shirt and think – oh yeah, I remember that shirt! But then I see that it’s all ripped up and I’m brought back to the reality that the appropriate time had come for that old ratty shirt to be made into a rag. It was time for it to be rent or torn up.

At the same time, I might have a shirt or some pants that have a small tear in them. And it might be more appropriate to sew those back up instead of just automatically rending them and turning them into rags.

There’s a time for either course of action.

Silence and Speaking

There’s a time to keep silence and a time to speak up.

a time to keep silence,
and a time to speak;

And we can struggle with this one. When to speak and when to keep silent. There’s a right time for both.

Can you imagine a person that speaks all the time? Well, you actually may know someone like that. It’s not pleasant.

And you also may know what it’s like to have a person that never speaks – and not because he physically can’t. But because he won’t. He remains silent no matter what.

Neither of these people are ideal or healthy. There is indeed a time to both speak and to keep silent. You and I need wisdom to know which activity is appropriate at any given time. But both are appropriate in their appointed time.

Love and Hate

There’s a time to love and a time to hate.

a time to love,
and a time to hate;

There’s a balance to be achieved here, too. Someone who loves everything in this world is imbalanced. And someone who hates everything is likewise imbalanced.

That’s because God himself balances love and hate. The Bible tells us that God is love. That’s a direct quotation. But we’re also told that he hates certain things and individuals.

Jesus in the book of Revelation tells us that he hated the deeds of a certain group of individuals. Hate? Yes.

God tells us that he hated the individual Esau and loved the individual Jacob. Hate?? Yep.

The point is that God is balanced. He loves the world so much that he sent Jesus to die for our sins. But he hates the world so much so — that if you’re a friend of the world you make yourself an enemy of God — and he goes on and commands his people to not love the world, just like he doesn’t.

God’s love and hate is balanced. And it should be with his creatures as well. There’s an appropriate time to both love and hate.

War and Peace

And lastly, there’s a time of war and a time of peace.

a time for war,
and a time for peace.

Now, when I lived in Fort Atkinson I used to see a sign between there and the little town of Milton that said “Peace Now. Stop the War.” Now, I think I recall this sign being there from way back in 2004 or so. And it’s still there, the last time I checked. This guy has had this sign up for over a decade. What war is he talking about? I get the sense that he’s probably just against all war and so, it doesn’t matter if we’re talking about the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, the war against the Islamic State, or whatever else – if it’s war, there are people who are just automatically opposed to it, no question.

But there is a time for war. We might wish that there wasn’t. And there will be a time when Jesus returns and reigns and then there will be no more war. But in this life there is war. There’s an appropriate time for war.

But there certainly also is an appropriate time for peace. Both activities find their appropriate time or season under the sun.

And so you have these 14 couplets of 28 activities that find their proper time under the sun. And all of them are the exact opposite of the other. And yet, the fact that these activities are the opposite of the one they’re paired with – that doesn’t change the fact that there’s an appropriate time for each of the activities mentioned.

So, we’ve begun to see the human quest for meaning being satisfied.

Enjoy life. It’s God’s gift to you right now.

And think of time as an orderly system in which every activity falls into place and has its appropriate time.

Time

So now, we’ll consider how God views time.

We’ve been seeing that the book of Ecclesiastes is very down-to-earth. Who would have thought that God wants our mindset to be on enjoying the simple pleasures he gives us in this life? Eating. Drinking. Working. We’re supposed to enjoy those things. That’s what we learned so far.

And the key to transform our meaningless, futile life under the sun? God! God is the key in turning the monotony of life into something meaningful. And that means that not even the things that he gives us to enjoy are the key to enjoyment and satisfaction. No – they’re his gifts to us. And we always need to be careful to look beyond the gift to the giver. But as we’re looking to the giver he wants us to enjoy his gifts.

And so now we’re going to be receiving some more counsel from God along the lines of what we’ve just been discussing. What is God’s advice to you regarding what you should do in this world? This is I think what we’ll see in Ecclesiastes 3:9-22 — Enjoy Your Life Now.

Wait. Did I — an Independent Fundamental Baptist — just say that? The title of my message is Enjoy Your Life Now?? This sounds like one of the titles on the racks at Walmart under the Spirituality section right next to Oprah’s new book!

But I trust that what I’m about to proclaim here is faithful to the Scripture. I trust it’s true and if it’s God’s truth then it’s what we need right now.

So let’s be counseled by God on Enjoying Your Life Now.

Verses 9-22 in Seven Sub-Sections

We’ll start by noting that there are 7 sections in Ecclesiastes 3:9-22. Let me just briefly give you the breakdown of this main section and then we’ll come back and consider each one individually.

Verses 9-10

In Ecclesiastes 3:9-10 we have Man’s Work Revisited. Did you notice that through these first 3 chapters the Preacher has been speaking a lot about work? Even when he was trying to pursue pleasure for satisfaction he ended up working! So, the Preacher in Ecclesiastes 3:9-10 comes back to this theme of Man’s Work.

Verse 11

After that, he turns in Ecclesiastes 3:11 to Man’s Relationship to Time and Eternity. He’s already dealt with the theme of time in the Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. Remember? A time to be born and a time to die, etc. But he hasn’t mentioned eternity yet. So, that’s what we’ll see in Ecclesiastes 3:11 – Man’s Relationship to Time and Eternity.

Verses 12-13

Then in Ecclesiastes 3:12-13, the Preacher restates his thesis that Man Should Enjoy His Life & Work. And the first two sub-sections we just glossed over contribute to that conclusion that Man Should Enjoy His Life & Work.

Verses 14-15

After that, we’ll see the Preacher turning his focus to God’s Work. And he’ll tell us there that God’s Work is Permanent & Continuous in Ecclesiastes 3:14-15.

Verses 16-17

Then the Preacher takes some time to speak of a particular aspect of God’s Work – His Judgement of evil. So Ecclesiastes 3:16-17 speak of God’s Work of Judgement.

Verses 18-21

Next, The Preacher focuses on another work of God. Ecclesiastes 3:18-21 point us to God’s Work of Humbling Man through Death.

Verse 22

And the last of the 7 sections summarizes everything. Ecclesiastes 3:22 – Man Should Enjoy Life & Not Worry About the Future – Enjoy Your Life Now!

Verses 9-22 In Detail

So, now that we’ve laid some groundwork, let’s go a little bit deeper with this section.

Man’s Work Revisited

As I said, Ecclesiastes 3:9-10 speak of Man’s Work Revisited.

3:9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboreth? 10 I have seen the travail which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised therewith.

So, again, we see the Preacher’s focus on work. In some ways these first three chapters at least seem to be the Preacher showing us the vanity and meaninglessness of work and labor and activity apart from God.

But we were led to believe that he was past all that negative stuff about how worthless work is. I thought he was just telling us about how we’re supposed to enjoy work and see it as a gift from God!

Well, then He goes on to ask about the ultimate profit that one can derive from work. Uh-oh. Again, this sounds negative – like he’s getting ready to smash all of our hopes again. But he doesn’t do that. No, look at the next section. It says that God has made everything – what? Beautiful. That sounds pretty positive.

Man’s Relationship to Time and Eternity

So let’s read Ecclesiastes 3:11 and consider Man’s Relationship to Time & Eternity.

3:11 He hath made everything beautiful in its time: also he hath set eternity in their heart, yet so that man cannot find out the work that God hath done from the beginning even to the end.

I would imagine that “everything” here must include man’s work. Everything – including that work, God has made beautiful or appropriate. He’s made everything to fit beautifully in his time – or in its appropriate time. Again, this hearkens back to the Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. There’s an appropriate time for everything. And when an activity is done at the right time, the Preacher is saying that that’s beautiful.

And yet, there’s something beyond that. There’s something more to life than the things done under the sun. And the reason we know that that’s the case is because God has put the world in our heart. The word there translated as “world” is the Hebrew Olam – forever, long time, eternity.

God has put eternity in our heart. We know there’s more than what we’ve experienced thus far in our life. And it’s just out of our reach. That’s what the Preacher says. There’s this eternity out there beyond our comprehension. And it’s just dark enough that we can’t find out the work that God has done from the beginning to the end.

We know that things happened before us and we know that things will happen after we’re gone from this life. But what those things were or will be – we don’t know.

But here again – God knows. And that’s what the Preacher wants us to remember. Yes, he focuses on the fact that we can’t know eternity past or future. But even more importantly – God does know those things.

And I think the idea is that you want to know that God. You want to make sure you’re on his side. He’s got work to do from eternity past to eternity future. And you want to be sure that you’re part of that work. I think that’s what he’s getting at.

Enjoy Your Work

So, the Preacher revisited the issue of man’s work. Then he admitted that even work in its time is a beautiful thing – while also adding the element of eternity that he wants his audience to be mindful of. And in light of all of that, in Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 he asserts that Man Should Enjoy His Life & Work.

3:12 I know that there is nothing better for them, than to rejoice, and to do good so long as they live. 13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy good in all his labor, is the gift of God.

So this is the Preacher’s conclusion – rejoice, do good, eat, drink, enjoy your work – in this life. And recognize that this is all a gift from God – both the actities and the enjoyment that you can find in any of those activites – it’s all God’s gift to you. As much as he allows you to have, take it.

God’s Work is Permanent

That’s the conclusion regarding man’s work. And with that, the Preacher turns to consider God’s work. In particular, he asserts that God’s Work is Permanent, Complete, & Continuous in Ecclesiastes 3:14-15.

3:14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor anything taken from it; and God hath done it, that men should fear before him. 15 That which is hath been long ago; and that which is to be hath long ago been: and God seeketh again that which is passed away.

So, God’s work is permanent. What a contrast we see between man’s work and God’s work. Man’s work can grant a certain amount of joy. And God wants us to enjoy it as a gift from him. And yet it’s fleeting. It ends at some point.

On the other hand, God’s work lasts forever. Isn’t that interesting?

The work of man, at its best remains for a while and is given to others after the death of the man who did it.

But what God does endures forever.

And I think the question that the Preacher extends to the man under the sun who has hitherto had no interest whatsoever in spiritual unseen realities is – “Don’t you want to know this God? The one whose work is eternal?

God’s Work is Complete and Perfect

So, God’s work is permanent.

Further, God’s work is complete and perfect. You can’t put or add to it. There’s nothing lacking from what God does – unlike the work of man. With human work, there’s always something that could have theoretically been done to improve on it. Not with God’s work, though.

And you can’t take away anything from it. It’s not as if he does anything inappropriate that needs to be corrected or taken out of his work. God’s work is complete and perfect.

Fear God

And we humans are supposed to take a lesson away from this fact of God’s permanent perfect work. We should fear before him. We should stand in awe of his work. We should see the great contrast between what God can do and what mere man can do.

Again, I think this is another chance that the Preacher is using to draw the natural man to the true God.

God’s Work is Perpetual

And lastly in this section we have that God’s work is continuous or perpetual. What happened in the past is happening now. And what will happen in the future already happened in the past. And the Preacher has used this line of argument before to discourage the natural man from being comfortable in seeking true fulfillment in the stuff of this life. But now he’s going to use this statement to point to God’s work and this attribute of it – that it’s continuous or perpetual.

I think that’s so significant. The same bare facts without God being placed properly in view can lead a man to despair. But put God back into the picture where he rightly belongs – and all of a sudden this is a good thing. Again, God makes all the difference. He makes the difference between you and me living a life of vanity and emptiness or living a life of fulfillment, being fulfilled by the only one who can provide that for us.

God’s Work of Judgement

But now we can move on to the next section in Ecclesiastes 3:16-17 where we’re directed to consider God’s Work of Judgement.

3:16 And moreover I saw under the sun, in the place of justice, that wickedness was there; and in the place of righteousness, that wickedness was there. 17 I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked; for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.

So, the Preacher’s eye turns to the fact of injustice in this life.

Now, it’s one thing when the injustice is perpetrated by individuals who are then judged in the place where that society designates as the place of justice – the place where justice is served out. The place where the righteous should be vindicated and where the wicked should be punished.

But that’s not what the Preacher observes. He observes the total overthrow of an institution. Because that’s what happens when you have an institution in a society that’s designed to mete out justice against evil-doers… when in fact the ones who are given such a charge are the evil-doers themselves!

And our minds jump immediately to perhaps several decisions made in our Supreme Court where it appears that there was wickedness and iniquity in the very place designed to condemn and stop those things. And this is a problem in our day. But we should be a little comforted – the Preacher experienced these exact same dynamics.

Now, I’ll just point out that this is one more reason that I think the author of this book doesn’t want to be too closely linked with Solomon. Because, if Solomon the king were to see injustice in places of judgement, you’d think that he’d do more than just say something in his heart – which we’ll see in the next verse.

Right? He could and would have been required to put an end to the injustice as the king. So, that’s another reason I would caution against equating the Preacher immediately with no distinctions with King Solomon.

So, the Preacher sees this injustice and iniquity and he does just like we do. He needs to work this out in his heart. It can be so distressing to see wicked men do the exact opposite of what even our consciences know is right and just. And here’s how the Preacher handles it.

He consoles himself with the undeniable and unavoidable fact that God will judge the righteous and the wicked. It’s going to happen. And – see – that conviction of future judgement is something that the natural man doesn’t have at his disposal. Because even if he does try to take comfort in it – he needs to come to terms with the fact that he’s a worthy recipient of that same judgement.

In the Preacher’s mind, his observation that there’s a proper time for everything to be done means that surely judgement is coming some day. Judgement is another activity – though when it comes to God’s judgement of course it won’t be under the sun. And yet just like every other activity, God has ordained a time for it to happen.

God Humbles Man

So the Preacher started considering God’s permanent, continuous, and perfect work. Then he zeroed in on God’s work of judgement. And next he’s going to lead us in considering God’s Work of Humbling Man through Death in Ecclesiastes 3:18-21.

3:18 I said in my heart, It is because of the sons of men, that God may prove them, and that they may see that they themselves are but as beasts. 19 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; and man hath no preeminence above the beasts: for all is vanity. 20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. 21 Who knoweth the spirit of man, whether it goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast, whether it goeth downward to the earth?

So, the Preacher is kind of working backward in his thinking now.

He started speaking of God’s work of judgement. But when does that judgement occur?

Well, it’s not in this life. The New Testament book of Hebrews tells us – “it’s appointed unto man once to … die.” And then what? “After this – after death – the judgement.” That’s the order of things. Death. Then judgement.

We’ve considered judgement, which is the end of the road. But how does one get to the judgement? Through death.

And so that’s the Preacher’s logic. He spoke of judgement. Now it’s time to speak of the vehicle that conveys men to judgement – death.

And the Preacher says something in his heart again in Ecclesiastes 3:18. He muses about the estate of the sons of men. I think in the context this is speaking of the universality of death – the very matter he’s going to get to in this section. And concerning death, God has made it this way to humble men – by showing us that we’re beasts.

And of course this isn’t some hint of molecules-to-man evolution that was dreamed up by Charles Darwin. We are beasts in the sense that – Ecclesiastes 3:19 – as beasts die, so does man.

You might think that you’re above mere beasts. You might think you have some advantage or preeminence over – say – your dog. And yes in some ways you and I are higher than animals. We were made in God’s image. And yet, both you and your dog or cat or parakeet or your pet scorpion – both you and they will die some day.

We have the same breath that God gives and God takes away some day. Our bodies are all made of dust. And that’s interesting, because in Genesis we’re explicitly told that man was made of dust. And Genesis does tell us that God ordered the earth to bring forth living creatures. And between that reference and the one we have here in Ecclesiastes we discover that that process involved beasts being made of dust as well.

So, we’re all made of dust. And when that one breath we all have is removed we all go back to the dust.

And I think that last verse – Ecclesiastes 3:21 – is aimed at the man under the sun, who has no interest in spiritual realities. How do you really know – oh natural man – whether your end is any more special than the end of beasts?

And yet, if that natural man has been listening so far, he knows that there’s a judgement coming – and really, animals don’t seem to be a part of that judgement. So, there is a distinction between man and beasts – man is judged in the end. And yet in this life with what the natural eye can see, it appears that both man and beasts just cease to exist. Their bodies stop operating and they return to the ground from where they were originally created.

Enjoy Life and Don’t Worry

And in light of all that – in light of the fact that man will die just like a beast and that there’s a judgement to come and that all of this is God’s work and that it cannot be prevented and it cannot be changed – and certainly in light of man’s relationship to time and eternity – the Preacher returns to his assertion that Man Should Enjoy Life & Not Worry about the Future in Ecclesiates 3:22 to end this section.

3:22 Wherefore I saw that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him back to see what shall be after him?

Let’s start with that last statement. This is key – there will be events that occur after your death. And you’re not going to see them. You’re limited as a human. You die – as we’ve just been reminded of. And so, given that fact, you should enjoy your life now. Don’t worry about what’ll happen in the future. Just concern yourself with the present. And keep it in mind that the enjoyment of work and activity is your portion. It’s your inheritance. And like an inheritance, someone is leaving it you. Who would that be? Yeah, it’s God.

Conclusion

So, enjoy your life now – realizing the main role that God plays in it all – and reverencing him for that fact.

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