Bible Study

ECCLESIASTES 3

In the first two chapters, the writer described the extent of his  search for the purpose of life under the sun.  In this chapter, and the three to follow, he shares observations gleaned during the course of his search.

In a well-known passage, we are told that to everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.  The writer has seen that God has given man the task to seek out God’s purpose by putting  eternity in man’s heart.  But then he also saw that no one is able to find out what God does from beginning to end, and no one can change

what He decides to do.  Why does God act this way?  Why are His purposes often incomprehensible?  The writer offers that God does this so man might fear before Him, seeing that God will require an  account for what is done.  This prompts the writer to state again (cf. 2:24-26) what he believes is the best one can do:  to rejoice, do

good, to eat and drink, enjoying the good in their labor.  This he concludes is the gift of God (1-15).

Next he describes what he saw “under the sun”.  In places were there should have been judgment and righteousness, he saw wickedness and  iniquity!  Why does God allow it?  He reasoned in his heart that God  will judge the righteous and wicked, and that there must be a time for every purpose and for every work.  He told himself that God tests men, to help them see that they are little different from beasts.  Both man  and beasts die, and both return to the dust.  From a purely earthly  perspective, there is no advantage of man over beasts, for one cannot see whether the spirit of man goes upward (but cf. 12:7) while the spirit of animals goes downward to the earth.  This led him to the perception stated once again (cf. 2:24-26; 3:12-13), that it is best for a man to rejoice in his works.  This is man’s heritage, for who can bring one (back) to see what will happen (on the earth) after him (16-22)?

I. THE INEXPLICABLE PURPOSE OF GOD (3:1-15)

   A. A TIME FOR EVERY PURPOSE (1-8)

      1. To everything there is a season

      2. A time for every purpose under heaven

         a. A time to be born, and a time to die

         b. A time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted

         c. A time to kill, and a time to heal

         d. A time to break down, and a time to build up

         e. A time to weep, and a time to laugh

         f. A time to mourn, and a time to dance

         g. A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones

         h. A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing

         i. A time to gain, and a time to lose

         j. A time to keep, and a time to throw away

         k. A time to tear, and a time to sew

         l. A time to keep silence, and a time to speak

         m. A time to love, and a time to hate

         n. A time of war, and a time of peace

   B. MAN’S INABILITY TO FIND OUT GOD’S PURPOSE (9-15)

      1. God has put it in man to seek out what he cannot find

         a. Again, the Preacher asks what profit there is in one’s labor

         b. He sees that God has:

            1) Given man the task with which to be occupied

            2) Made everything beautiful in its time

            3) Put eternity in man’s heart

         c. Yet no one can find the work that God does from beginning to end

      2. What the Preacher concludes is best for people to do

         a. Rejoice, and do good in their lives

         b. Eat, drink, and enjoy the good of all their labor

         c. It is the gift of God (cf. 2:24-26)

      3. What the Preacher offers as God’s reason for the way He works

         a. He knows that what God does, man cannot change

         b. God acts the way He does, that men should fear before Him

         c. For God requires an account of what is past (done)

II. THE INJUSTICE AND WICKEDNESS OF MEN (3:16-22)

   A. WHAT THE PREACHER SAW (16)

      1. In the place of judgment, there was wickedness

      2. In the place of righteousness, there was iniquity

   B. WHAT THE PREACHER REASONED (17-21)

      1. God will judge the righteous and the wicked

      2. There must be a time for every purpose and for every work

      3. God evidently allows injustice to test the hearts of men

         a. That they may see that they are like beasts

         b. That what happens to beasts will happen to them

            1) As one dies, so dies the other

            2) Man has no advantage over beasts

            3) All return to the dust

         c. Who knows that the spirit of man goes upward, and the

            spirit of the beast goes downward?

   C. WHAT THE PREACHER CONCLUDED (22)

   1. There is nothing better than rejoicing in one’s own works, which is his heritage

   2. For who can bring man to see what will happen after him?

 Victory Baptist Church 22 January 2020 victorypalmetto.com