Pastor Tom Ascol continues his series on Ecclesiastes with a message on Chapter 3:1 – 15 entitled “God Rules Our Times.” Time is a fascinating concept. It unfailingly moves on, people can remember the past but not the future. Things happen and cannot be changed back. Time passes, seasons change. Ecclesiastes invites us to consider these things so we can learn to live wisely, and see in the broader context that God rules our time.
There are three questions today’s text helpfully answers as it seeks to assist us in fearing and understanding God. The first asks, “What is true of time.” This chapter describes life as it is, there is a time for everything. The list in vv. 1 – 8 contain both good and ill. We are not told all that happens in time is necessarily good but rather, just that these things do happen. There is an undeniable reality to the revolving seasons of human life as one time, birth for instance, is canceled by another, death. There is no gain from human toil, at least none “under the sun” (v. 1:3), that is without God.
Question number two is, “Who is responsible for time.” While God is not mentioned within the chapter’s first eight verses, in subsequent verses we see God rules everything. Yet, though God has put “eternity into man’s heart” (v. 11), people cannot make sense of the world apart from God. It is God who rules our times and without light from Him humankind “cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end” (v. 11). In fact, the words of Ephesians 1:11, “the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,” indicates God has purposed all that has come to pass and has a purpose for all He does. The fact that God is providentially and meticulously ruling in our lives should lead us to both comfort and humility.
“Why does God rule our times” is the third question. Verse 14 answers, “whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him.” God’s purpose is for men to fear Him, that is, to be in awe of His majesty, His love, His care. Because of sin men do not fear God as they ought. Romans 3:10-18 correctly sums up mankind’s estate, “‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.’ ‘Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.’ ‘The venom of asps is under their lips.’ ‘Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.’ ‘Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.’ ‘There is no fear of God before their eyes.’” God recognizes our need for a savior and has made provision for that need in Jesus Christ. It is only a holy, reverential fear of God that enables mankind to recognize their need and turn to the Savior.
This sermon was given by Dr. Tom Ascol on November 6, 2016 at Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, FL.
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