TO EVERYTHING- TURN TURN TURN- TO EVER….
The chapter for the week is Ecclesiastes 3.
This chapter was made famous by Simon and Garfunkel- their hit song ‘to every thing- turn turn turn- there is a season..’
This ‘book’ in the Christian bible- Old Testament- was more than likely written by King Solomon- who I mentioned in a recent post.
The son of King David and Bathsheba- who David took to be his wife- and had the husband killed.
Yet- after the death of their first baby [as a judgment from God because of what David did]- their 2nd child was the wisest man ever- next to Jesus himself.
One of the main themes of this book is VANITY- that is the Preacher is talking about the futility of life apart from God.
Solomon was the richest king ever [in the bible that is] he attained great heights of knowledge- accomplished all a person could ever want in life- and had ‘many women’- yet- at the end of the day was Empty.
So- he writes about the Vanity of these pursuits- that if there is nothing more to life than simply making money- or ‘keeping up with the Jones’- then its simply wasted time in the end.
You find quotes in this book [one of the 5 or 6 books in the bible that is in the category of Wisdom literature] that seem to be coming from an Atheistic perspective.
Last year I was watching some Net Flix documentary- that was anti Christian- and they even quoted a passage from this book- to say ‘see- even the bible says there is no after life’! [the quote said ‘what difference does it make- when we die we are just like the animals- we return to the ground and back to dust!].
The way we [Christians] would explain this- being in our bible- is Solomon is writing from the perspective of someone who tried to find fulfillment apart from God.
And this vain pursuit is what we are reading thru out the book.
Sort of like God giving us the perspective from the other side.
I should note that in the last chapter Solomon does say that after this whole experience of trying to find purpose apart from God- his conclusion is mans purpose is to Fear God and keep his commandments.
Okay- chapter 3.
I like the reality of what the Preacher says ‘there is a time to get- a time to lose- a time to be born- a time to die’.
He shows us the cycles of life.
In today’s ‘world’ of Christian preaching- TV Evangelism- and the proliferation of self help books- we have a tendency to focus on one side of the aisle.
For instance- how many popular books [or shows] do you see about losing what you have?
A Time to gain- but a time to Lose also.
A time to keep- but a time to cast away.
To plant [plant your seed for the harvest?] and a time to pluck up that which is planted.
Yeah- I like the Whole perspective that the Preacher [Solomon is referred to as The Preacher] gives us.
We also see the theme of ‘There is nothing new under the Sun’.
‘That which is- that which is to come- has already been’.
Yeah- we hear that bit of wisdom from our elders all thru out life.
I think it was Hemingway who took this phrase [under the sun] and turned it into a popular book/movie?
Hemingway was the famous author- who seemed to be on his own quest for the meaning of life.
Like many of the philosophers/thinkers of the last century.
Some veered into the abyss that Solomon wrote about in this book.
If you go down this path- this journey- and simply come to the conclusion that All is Vanity- then the Final Question is ‘life itself has no meaning- why even stay?’
Hemingway [as well as a few other talented writers- Hunter Thompson] simply followed the logical path that this hopeless world view leads to- they both took their own lives.
One of the most famous philosophers of the last century- John Paul Sartre- said that the only question left to ask is- ‘the moral choice of taking our own lives’ [either Sartre or Camu said this- I some times confuse the 2- they both took the same hopless perspective that Solomon took in this book].
No- Solomon went on to say that the final answer was to ‘Fear God and obey his rules’.
Yes- in today’s world- that sounds stupid- in the pursuit of self- in the most popular World View of our day- Hedonism [a philosophy that says mans purpose is to maximize pleasure] this sounds Victorian- Old Fashioned- Non liberating.
Like the Preacher said- there is nothing new under the sun- many have tried this path- the path of simply living for self- to make lots of money- to always ‘get’ but to never ‘cast away’.
No- in life there are cycles to things.
You might be at the stage of ‘getting- planting- gaining’.
But don’t be fooled- that’s a stage- that’s a cycle.
You will need [some time] to experience the other cycle- and when that time comes- you must also walk that road.
In the Gospels we read the story of a young rich man who asked Jesus ‘what must I do to gain Eternal Life’.
Jesus told him to keep Gods laws- the man said he has done this since he was a kid.
One more thing.
Go- sell all that you have- give it to the Poor- and then come and follow me.
The bible says this man went away sad- because he had much wealth.
Do you see?
This was his Time to Lose- his Time to ‘cast away’.
He missed his Time.
NOTE- In the bible we read- often- about the principle of ‘becoming less’.
That is- we follow Christ’s example of preferring others more than our selves.
Much of what The Preacher talks about in the above chapter is learning to live this command.
The apostle Paul rebuked the Christians at Corinth because they were more concerned about their own welfare- than the welfare of their brother.
He said ‘why are you suing each other- taking each other to the courts- if someone harmed you- then see that as an opportunity to be like Christ- to take the wrong- and forgive’.
I’ll give you a silly example- but because it came to mind- well- I’ll use it.
The other day I went for one of my long walks- and forgot to take the headphones for the music player on my phone.
So- even though I had just bought a pair- I went into some store and got a second pair- for about 15 bucks.
OK- they were nice- nicer than the original pair.
I used them for a few days- and one of my friends [Pat- don’t worry- if you read this- I don’t want the things back- but thought this story would work!] had left his pair somewhere else [lost?] and I gave him my extra pair.
Then realized- while walking the other day ‘yeah- Pat’s right- that other set was a good set- better than this one I’m using now’.
So- it was no big deal- I made a mental note ‘no problem- I’ll just tell my friend to give me the better pair back- and I’ll give him the “lesser” pair’.
But as I walked- listening to the now very noticeable ‘worse’ pair [you know how that works- after you think about it- you start feeling like you got the short end of the stick- and start thinking about how you ripped your self off!] God dealt with me about this principle- about preferring others more than your self.
This above verse came to mind ‘prefer the benefit of other- more than your own benefit’.
And I decided to simply keep my ‘worse’ pair- and let Pat have the better ones.
Now- to be honest- I have given away much more than this- so this was not too hard at all.
But- the point is- we have a tendency to want- to get- to keep.
It’s in our nature.
And when Solomon tells us that there are times- purposes- in life- even times to lose- to give stuff away.
We need to grasp hold of that- we need to see ‘hey- maybe I’m at the time of becoming less- for the benefit of others becoming more’.
The apostle Paul said to the Christians at the city of Philippi ‘be like Christ- who being in the form of God- did not think it to be used for his own advantage- but made himself of no reputation and became a man and humbled himself to a shameful death- even death on a Cross’.
So- when the time comes to ‘become less’- to serve- and prefer others more than your self- when you see that taking place [often times this is thrust upon you by un-foreseen circumstances].
Then be Christ like- take the wrong- if you will- enjoy the fact that you gave away the ‘better’ pair- knowing that in God’s kingdom- this is valuable.
Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John. Don’t forget to scroll down on the timeline [FaceBook] - I have posted lots.
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