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Ecclesiastes Three

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Navigate to Verse

Ecclesiastes 3:1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

a time to every purpose. In Ecclesiastes 3:2-8 of this chapter there is a remarkable listing of twenty-eight “times,” arranged in fourteen pairs of opposites (e.g., “a time to be born, and a time to die”). Every timed event has a “purpose” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) and every thing is “beautiful” in God's time for it (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Even when in our time, we may not understand how a particular event can be either purposeful or beautiful, we can have faith that, in God's time, it is (Romans 8:28). Although it is beyond our finite comprehension, it is still bound to be true that the infinite God “worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” (Ephesians 1:11).

Ecclesiastes 3:2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

a time to die. God has appointed a time for each individual, and it is wrong for us to shorten that time (by suicide or by careless living). Our times are in His hands (note Psalm 31:15; also Ecclesiastes 7:17).

Ecclesiastes 3:3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

Ecclesiastes 3:4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

Ecclesiastes 3:5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

Ecclesiastes 3:6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

Ecclesiastes 3:7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

Ecclesiastes 3:8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?

Ecclesiastes 3:10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

every thing beautiful. If there is anything in the world that is ugly, it must be attributed ultimately to sin; God did not make it so.

the world. Literally, God “hath set eternity in their hearts.” Even though we cannot now comprehend the total plan of God, each person has an innate awareness that God does exist and does have a purpose in creation.

Ecclesiastes 3:12 I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.

Ecclesiastes 3:13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.

Ecclesiastes 3:14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.

shall be for ever. In addition to emphasizing the immutability of God and His works, this passage anticipates the great scientific principle of conservation (conservation of energy, mass, momentum, charge, etc.). Nothing is now being either created or annihilated. An entity may be changed in character and even deteriorate in quality, but it must be conserved in quantity.

Ecclesiastes 3:15 That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.

requireth that which is past. Just because a deed is past and forgotten by other men, this does not mean God has forgotten. “Every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12).

Ecclesiastes 3:16 And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.

Ecclesiastes 3:17 I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.

God shall judge. In the time of Solomon, very little had yet been revealed concerning the nature of the ultimate judgment of all men. Nevertheless, he realized that the very fact of right and wrong and the intuitive moral consciousness in man assured him that there must be such a judgment some day.

Ecclesiastes 3:18 I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts.

Ecclesiastes 3:19 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; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.

Ecclesiastes 3:20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.

of the dust. This statement merely refers to the universal curse pronounced by God on man and all his dominion because of sin. Both men and beasts were made out of the basic elements, the “dust of the ground,” and their bodies return to dust again at death. This principle is expressed scientifically as the law of increasing entropy. See on Genesis 3:17-19.

Ecclesiastes 3:21 Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?

goeth upward. “Spirit” is the same word as “breath”; in this sense, both men and beasts have “spirit,” but the breathing apparatus ceases to function at death. “Spirit” may also refer to that aspect of man which communicates with God's Spirit, and which returns to God at death (Ecclesiastes 12:7). Animals do not have this.

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