"I've always dreamed of being an old philosopher. So far I've achieved one out of two!"

What Time is it?

Ecclesiastes 3:1-14 (NIV RSV)

1. Two hypothetical situations:

A. What if the rotation of the earth changed? Suddenly, each day had twenty-three, sixty-minute hours? Assume that all other things would remain the same. Each person would have to delete a total of sixty minutes from their day. What activities would you delete? Explain your choices.

B. Again, imagine that the rotation of the earth changed. Suddenly, each day had twenty-five, sixty minute hours? Assume that all other things would remain the same. Each person would have an additional sixty minutes each day. What activities would you add or expand? Explain your choices.

2. Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-14. What is the overall message?

3. Verse 1: What does this verse say to you? How does it relate to the stress you feel in your life?

4. Verses 2-8: What items are easiest to understand? What are the most difficult to understand? Do these verses describe what we have done, or what is, or what we should do? In these verses, which ones speak most strongly to you? In what way?

5. Verses 9-10: What do you gain from your toil? What is this "burden" or "business" God has laid on us?

6. Verse 11: Is the author suggesting that we "Just don't get it?"  How can we go about comprehending (fathoming) it? What might it be that we are to "fathom" or "find out?"

7. Verse 12-14: What is the purpose of life? What does God want for us? Why does he want this?

Reflection:

  • What time or season is it for you?
  • What is it you would like to do with your time?
  • What are you doing to enable that to happen?
  • How do you assure your desire is in line with God's desire for your life?
  • How might you more earnestly revere God in your daily life?

Ecclesiastes 3:1-14 (NIV)

1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:

2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,

4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

6 a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7 a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

9 What does the worker gain from his toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on men. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. 13 That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil--this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-14 (RSV)

1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7 a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

9 What gain has the worker from his toil? 10 I have seen the business that God has given to the sons of men to be busy with. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time; also he has put eternity into man's mind, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live; 13 also that it is God's gift to man that every one should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil. 14 I know that whatever God does endures for ever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it; God has made it so, in order that men should fear before him.