Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Chapter 3: Time-Purpose-Beauty


What time is it? What time is it for you personally?
Is there another alternative way of telling time in this book?
The description and concept of Coram Deo--what is it and what does it mean?
Who are 4 of the more prominent Existential philosophers?
Is the axiom “ignorance is bliss” true or not?
What is the answer this chapter provides as an antidote to pessimism?
Does this chapter deal with the appropriate time to act or not to act?
Are their exceptions to these timely purposes? Such as hate or kill or war?
Is there anytime that we should hate? A time of appropriate hate?
There are at least three different words in the NT (New Testament) for time that I can think of. What are there different meanings? Find a few scriptures in the gospels that use these different words?
Does this chapter implicitly make reference to the Will of God?
Is Ecclesiastes a book that Christians should study --but-- its time and place has past. Now, our devotion and pertinence is to the New Testament?

Terms to know and research: Beneficence, Benevolent, implicit vs. explicit, informal fallacy of “propter hoc ergo post hoc” (really, It just might be good to know these)

We are living in a revival of ancient skepticism and unprecedented times of pessimism. We are assaulted on almost every side by the theme of negative existential philosophy.

Which teaches, among others, one of two things:
Right now doesn’t count at all
Right now counts for right now and only now and that’s all.
And if right now is all we have then there is not a bit of difference of what now means and nothing in the end. Either is a frightening existence.

The lasting significance of life. Were all concerned about this. How our effort and production will count, and not wanting to work for what perishes. So Coram Deo is Latin for that which ‘counts forever.’ Everything has eternal significance. Nothing is cyclical here in this truth. Everything we do has this regard in time. If this book, Ecclesiastes is right. Which trust ,in our journey of faith, makes assured.


So the 1st chapter deals with vanity or the perishable transience of life.
The 2nd is regarding the Qoheleth and his speaking on the pain or sorrow in the acquisition of wisdom. The axiom “ignorance is bliss” is true in a way. The more knowledge we acquire the more wisdom we gain the more pain we are alert to. This chapter deals with the vanity of pleasure. For me and all of us, the most common response to pain and the threat of a fruitless life is to seek temporary joy in pleasure. The ancient world and it’s vantage point of the lifestyle of hedonism. But here it says that that also, is vanity. Whatever pleasure is gleaned will in this earth bound pursuit will always be less that satisfying in the end.

The conclusion of the 2nd is?

Then on to the profound ideas of chapter 3.

read here the 1st part of chapter 3

The folk song written by Seeger uses the poetic repetition of “turn-turn-turn” as it were, a cyclical orientation of life and time. People say there are many interpretations of these verses but here in chapter 3, a season speaks of a time of purpose in everything under heaven. This heavenly perspective brings a timeliness to and a purpose for everything we do. This right here, provides the answer for pessimism. If there is a purpose and a meaning to what I do then and the timeliness of it, then what we do matters. It is not a cycle of just random reoccurring life conditions we must deal with.

What is appropriate to do?

Fact: We can do the right thing at the wrong time. Or the wrong things at the right time. To solve these problems Wisdom leads us to do the appropriate thing, given the options; given the situation; given the timeliness of it and assessing the whole of it. Ethics and behavior always takes place in a concrete situation. Our life is lived in a very concrete manner. So is this the type of wisdom we must have, the type that we just don’t have at times, how does it come in these concrete junctions in our life? How do we get it?

But the author here expounds on a simple yet profound term here in ‘timely purposes’...

Verse 2:
Birth and death. They had time to do something within their time of birth and the time of death. By Jewish terms one’s days are numbered by the Lord. Then, there must be with God no untimely deaths. No premature death. God sets the time. It is His ordaining of a time and a place. (Explain this to me when we meet.)

Verse 2:
Plant and pluck. Cosmology and exploration and the diligent study that the ancients did in astronomy. They saw “wandering stars” and studied them. They named them planets, which is star wander. Phases of the moon the cycles of motion amongst them and their conclusions were that there was an average length of a solar year, average days of a lunar period and so on. All these calculations measure time. Years-days-hours-minutes-seconds were derived from these studies. But there was a very practical motivation for all this work. This wasn’t just all naked and pure scholarly pursuit, there was a commercial motivation as well.

People needed to know what time it is --so-- they could survive. They had to know what season and what part of a part of the season it was. For the optimal benefits of planting seeds. And to harvest. Whether in Maine or Oklahoma there is a time that is appropriate.

Verse 3:
Kill and heal. This is not referring to murder. But that there are times when we need and it is appropriate to inflict death. When we are sick and we take a shot we say we are going to kill this disease.

Verse 5:
Build up and bring down. Example of Jeremiah and God telling him this is the time to beak Israel down. He was to be the architect of the demolition. Renewal was to come after this tearing down. And he was so unpopular.

When there are times in our life when things must be dismantled it is very painful. To tear down so something better can be put up in it‘s place. We can all see daily in organizations that change is almost always resisted. We all like the security of sameness. Comfort thru what they are accustomed to. It’s always threatening. We always did it this way. Some change is destructive but that is not “appropriate.” We must keep growing or we will die.

Verse 4:
Weep and laugh. Mourn and dance. All these have their good and ill-suited times of use. We learn how not to mix them up and do them at the wrong setting.
Verse 8:
Time to love and a time to hate. Is there anytime that we should hate? A time of appropriate hate? And your answer is…..?

Yes. God says he hates evil and so there are times for us to be filled with repulsion of that which is destructive and hate it. To them who do evil should be hated. But the wisdom here is that one can’t be filled continually with hate, for that too is destructive. Both love and hate have their appropriate times. What do you think?

Verse 8:
War and peace. Is peace our only Godly solution? Are there clear answers for this today?

Verse 11:
Everything is beautiful in it’s time. Wow. What an affirmation of the transcendent nature of God with His sovereignty.

This is the Old T statement of “everything is beautiful in His time.” The New Testament has one very similar and Paul say’s it in Romans that “all things are working together for good to those…for His purpose.” There is purpose again, again and again.

Verse :
Put eternity in their hearts. But we can’t find out the works of God from start to finish. This our lot as Christians and children whom God has seen to reveal Himself to. A sense of eternity in our souls and we know it but, as we live each day to day none of us grasps the time frame of God. He seems to just tease us with a little notion of eternity. We have to hear His Word to have some idea of it. This will, in it’s reading and meaning, assure us that there is a time that He has established for all things.

So to conclude here, let me ask you; what time is it for you and me? And don’t look at your watch because that is not the vital question. Both in your’s, your spouse, your children’s life, your parents life, in the life of your church, your business. We live in time but we life for eternity. Or that is what I am considering that Ecclesiastes is imparting to me. Can we truly be aware of the real time that it is for us and our world?

Extra reading:

There are at least three different words for time that I can think of. What are the different meanings?

Kairos (Gk)
Chronos (Gk)
Yeom (Heb)
Zeitgeist (Ger)

Which scriptures in the gospels use which words? (Use and search and look for the Greek translation of each verse)

Mark 1:15
Mathew 2:7
Mathew 25:29
Mathew 26:18
Luke 1:20
Luke 1:57
Luke 4:5
Luke 4:13
Extra time words: epi, tote, eukairoin

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