Ecclesiastes 3:1 states, “There is a time for every purpose under heaven.” But is the timing right or wrong, bad or good, suitable or unsuitable, ugly or beautiful?
It depends on who chooses the timing. Paul writes in Galatians 4:4, “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law.” God set the time for this to occur. It was not happenstance; the timing was fitting. Mark 1:15 shows the same principle: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand.” Jesus means that the time God set to preach the gospel had been reached. Matthew 26:18, 27-29 contain similar thoughts: The timing of His crucifixion and even the timing of when Jesus will drink wine again was set. Mark 8:31 reveals that God set the length of time Jesus spent in the grave too.
Acts 1:6-7 adds an important fact:
Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.”
God has sovereignly set the times, including appointing the times for our trials too. Are not times set by men for school tests? The proctor says, “You have 40 minutes, then the test is over.”
Understanding this principle helps us to grasp Solomon's conclusions in Ecclesiastes 3:12-14. Some translations contend that the last phrase is best read as “that men should stand in awe before Him.” When will that take place? It will not truly occur until after the resurrection. Of what will we stand in awe? We will truly admire many things about His glory, but after going through these experiences with Him so closely involved in our lives, what will really strike us with mind-numbing awe is what He has been able to create of us.
God's timing is always good, right, and appropriate. It is up to us to use our faith in Him to remain in a good attitude, using the time that He has set for us to grow, overcome, and meet the responsibilities our trials impose. We deal with nothing as continuously as time. Every day, from the moment we wake up until we go back to sleep, we are watching time, setting times, meeting schedules, calculating how much time we have, etc. This highlights that everything matters because we have only so much time.
While our time is limited, we can live in faith and hope because of the overall message of this magnificent chapter: God is in control of time all the time.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Three): Time