Time and Place (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, without which man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.

Ecclesiastes 3:11

This is one of my favorite verses in this book. In the midst of a dark portion of scripture (and there are a few), there is this bit of light. This verse contains two thoughts and I want to consider each of them.

First, the statement that God has made everything appropriate in its time. My footnotes tell me that appropriate could also be rendered beautiful. Everything is beautiful is appropriate in the right place and time. I can speak to the truth of this from my own experience. During a time of rebelling against God, I engaged in fornication; sexual sin. I found myself wondering what all the fuss had been about. It was enjoyable and all the things that folks had said it would be, but it was also like bad beer in that it was pleasant enough at the time but it left a nasty aftertaste (regret over having done wrong) and turned my stomach later. God led me to repent of that and later brought my wife and I together.  In its right time and place, sexual intimacy became what it is intended to be. It is beautiful and appropriate in its time.

Second, God setting eternity in their heart, without which man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end. There are plenty of people who feel that there must be more than this life. Some explain it away in various fashions. Solomon, the presumptive author of Ecclesiastes, explains our looking to the skies for God and our innate sense that there is something more than this life as God putting eternity in our hearts. Why would God do such a thing? Solomon’s conclusion is that we are unable to find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end without that spark of eternity within us. My notion is that the work God has done from the beginning even to the end is the redemption of mankind. Revelation 13:8 and 17:8 speak of people’s names being written in the Lamb’s book of life — the book listing the names of those who are redeemed — since the foundation of the world. Minus eternity in our hearts, we will not be redeemed. If we have no thought of eternity, why would we consider redemption? From what and to what purpose would we be redeemed if there is no eternity?

Everything is beautiful and appropriate at the right time and in the right context and eternity nestled in our hearts enables us to go looking for God’s redemption. Let me keep things in the right time and place that they may be beautiful and appropriate and let me treasure the bit of eternity God placed within me that drives me to seek Him and His redemption.

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