Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 are such popular verses everyone knows them. For some time I sang the song, “Turn, Turn, Turn” but didn’t know it was from the Bible. It is probably one of the most beautiful pieces of poetry ever written. It’s 21 timeeven versified as such in the Hebrew Text. The preacher wrote a poem! Ryken says about this, “Everyone recognizes the beauty of these lines—their rhythm, their repetition, and their orderly completeness.” I suppose that’s what moved Pete Seger to put it to music. Some argue like the Abingdon Bible Commentary, that this poem is a pessimistic view of life. It even titles this section as, “Hopelessness of Struggle Against an Arbitrary God.” The problem, it seems to me, is that we are somewhat uncomfortable with the sovereignty of God. That’s what this passage is about: God is sovereign over the events in our lives.

We must remember that chapter 2 ended with how all things are gifts from God along with the ability to enjoy them. Work is a gift from God and a focus on God rather than the gift makes life all it was supposed to be. The one who is intimate with God receives all His blessings in time and eternity. To wrap up God’s sovereignty Solomon says in 3:11, “God has made all things beautiful in its time.” Life is not all bad and it’s not all good. Charles Dickens began his “Tale of two cities,” with the line, “it was the best of time and it was the worst of times.” Life is filled with both positive and negative experiences that each of us must pass through on our journey to eternity. They are inescapable. I’ve wondered if Paul was thinking of Ecclesiastes 3:11 when he wrote Romans 8:28. “God makes all things work together for good for those who love Him…” Not all things are good. There’s a time to cry, to mourn, to lose, and a time to die. But God works the good and the bad together into a recipe that will result in ultimate good for each of us “who love God and who are called according to His purpose.”

When God’s people were in the worst of times he sent them a prophet named Jeremiah. He preached to the people at the time when Israel was conquered by Babylon and the nation was scattered all over the world. Many were taken as slaves to Egypt and Babylon. He spoke to the people for God. That’s what prophets did. He said, “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future.” I’d argue that throughout each of our lives God has a plan and purpose for us as well. It’s also one to prosper us and give us a hope and a future. There is a time for every purpose under heaven, and God will work out His purpose in the life of everyone who puts their faith in Him.