Turn, Turn, Turn
In chapter 1 of Ecclesiastes, the Preacher introduced his main thesis: death puts an end to our repetitive quest for greatness and gain and instead teaches us that we are simply part of the generation who came after the last one and before the next. But it’s not just that the whole of our lives comes and goes like a vapor. In chapter 2 the Preacher explained that all the pursuits and pleasures to which we give ourselves within our lives also slip through our fingers with little lasting satisfaction. In his excellent commentary on Ecclesiastes, Living Life Backwards, David Gibson introduces chapter 3 nicely:
“Now in chapter 3 the Preacher brings together both the big picture (the whole of life) and the individual parts (the seasons of life) and begins to explain why our lack of control over either is the very thing that can give us hope. There are many ways to embrace our frailty, and nearly all of them involve thinking clearly about time. It is part of living well to accept two things: first, we are enclosed within time’s bounds, and, second, God is not. What we do comes and goes, but ‘whatever God does endures forever’ (3:14). We are each building the project of ‘me,’ constructing the edifice of our lives, but as we do so, we are neither architect nor site manager. We are each writing the story of our lives, but we are not the main author.
“Ecclesiastes 3 is a beautiful chapter, with famous words of poetry often read at funerals. As we will see, however, the beauty of the Preacher’s poetry in verses 1-8 is only half the story; we need the punch of his prose in [the following passages] if we are actually to find any joy and hope in the poetry. The poetry is setting up a problem that the prose will seek to resolve.”
Solomon begins with a confession of faith in chapter 3. God is Lord of the times. He has a plan that embraces every man, woman, and child, and all their actions. His plan is fitting and good. Solomon then examines a host of troubling irregularities and apparent contradictions (chaps. 3 & 4) to the confession of God’s all-encompassing plan. He takes us on a fast-moving tour of six sights that might lead us to question that God has a plan in operation involving every person and every event. These sights along the way raise obstacles to some for believing in God’s omnipotence; but Solomon concludes that none of them should be used as an excuse for neglecting one’s relationship to the God who said he is actively in charge of all things.
Tragically, however, some people are bound to reflect on these seeming contradictions and be led to practical atheism; that is, they are tempted to act as if God were not in control. Do not be seduced by the six anomalies above and adopt an irreligious stance to life, pleaded Solomon. Instead, in faith, ‘go to the house of God’ with a receptive attitude and a readiness to listen rather than lecture God on what he ought to do (5:1-7).
Join us this week in the ‘house of God’ as we lift our heart to worship the living God who ordains all things that come to pass. Will you join us in praying for our friends and family that have experienced the recent bout of storms? Will you join us in praying for a new Reformation, for the plain preaching of the gospel in our area?
I hope to see you this Lord’s Day as we look at Ecclesiastes 3:1-5:20: “Turn, Turn, Turn.” Once again, in a broken and sin-cursed world, Solomon offers us a hint of hope as he concludes this section: ‘What I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment’ in your toil ‘under the sun’ (5:18). One of my greatest joys is worshiping with you on Sunday. I give thanks to God for the privilege of serving in God’s Kingdom alongside of you. May the Lord show us his favor and grant us his grace. Thank you for the privilege of being a part of Redeemer.
One of the ways we are attempting to enhance community life is by updating contact information so that everyone receives not only churchwide news but also notices concerning specific groups in which each person may be participating. In the next few days we will be posting a form and/or sending it via current email accounts, for you to update your contact information. Please take a moment and complete the form to assist us in serving you better. The contact information that you provide will be available only to us for communication purposes. We are planning to add a members’ only section to our website that will be secure and can serve as a directory just the Redeemer membership. Thank you in advance for your gracious help in this matter.
In Christ’s love,