The Old Testament is a collection of 39 books given to man by our God. These books vary in style from the impassioned preaching of the prophets to the reflective wisdom of Solomon.
Ecclesiastes begins with the elusive phrase, “Vanities of vanities.” It means “absurdity, frustration, futility or nonsense.” The point the writer makes throughout the book is that life is utterly futile without God. In the first two chapters we take a tour with Solomon in his quest for happiness, but we return empty handed.
In the third chapter we read: “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to gain, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; A time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.” (Ecc. 3:1-8).
We have no control over most of the events listed in these verses. The time for planting and harvesting depends on the changing of the seasons. Our “time to weep” is usually associated with another’s “time to die.” If it were up to most of us, there would never be a “time of war.” Immediately after showing there is “a time for every purpose under heaven,” he informs us God has “made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecc. 3:11). But how could death, war or weeping ever be beautiful?
One of our problems is we are often desperately nearsighted; we look at the events of the moment and forget their relation to the greater scheme of things. We can never stand back far enough to view things as our Creator does. Our God declares “the end from the beginning” (Isa. 46:10). God sees the beauty of the changing scenes of life. Let us notice a few of the beautiful times which often escape our attention.
The Beauty Of Parenting
It is amazing how fast our children grow up! We need to enjoy them while we can. We will never regret the time we spend with our children; it is an investment in the future. Are you too busy to enjoy your children?
One of the most haunting secular songs I have ever heard is Cats In The Cradle. It tells the story of a little boy who keeps asking his father to spend time with him. The father keeps putting him off. The boy keeps telling his father he wants to be like him when he grows up. Finally the little boy is a full grown man who has no time for his father. Like father like son.
The values that will guide our children throughout life will be learned in our homes. What values are your children learning?
Some parents are so busy trying to “make a living” they forget to “make a life.” What good is the money we earn if we can not enjoy it? Solomon reminds us “that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor; it is the gift of God” (Ecc. 3:13).
Husbands And Wives
Sociologists claim that one reason for the increasing divorce rate among middle age couples is they have built their entire lives around their children — then the children leave home. Each spouse is then left in an empty house with a stranger. Husbands and wives must learn to enjoy time together.
In the first seven chapters of Proverbs, Solomon admonishes the young man about the dangers of fornication. As a way of avoiding sexual sin, the young man is told to “drink water from your own cistern, and running water from your own well” (Prov. 5:15). These words simply mean the sexual desires were to be fulfilled in the marital relationship. Solomon also said, “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth. As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; and always be enraptured with her love. For why should you, my son, be enraptured by an immoral woman, and be embraced in the arms of a seductress?” (Prov. 5:18-20).
Children need good parents, but they also need to see a good example of a husband and wife. The children need to know that their parents are madly in love with each other. Where else will they find a proper example to pattern their marriage after?
Christians Must Grow
When one obeys the gospel, he is considered a “babe” in Christ (1 Pet. 2:1). God expects his children to grow up! There is a time to be a babe in Christ, and a time to be a mature Christian. One of the qualifications of elders is that they not be a “novice” (1 Tim. 3:6). A man can be 65 years old and still considered a “novice.”
While studying with a “babe in Christ,” I can exercise all of the patience in the world. However, when I find those who have been Christians for 30 years and still behaving like children, my patience wears a bit thin.
Though our lives are constantly changing, let us learn to see the beauty in each stage. Let us pray God will “teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psa. 90:12).
David A. Padfield