January 7: A Time for Everything
Genesis 12–13, Matthew 10, Ecclesiastes 3:1–8
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (Eccl 3:1).
The Bible’s most famous poem has inspired writers for generations, yet has not been improved upon. In a few short, simple lines, the Preacher ponders the whole of life: birth, death, weeping, laughing, mourning, dancing, breaking down, and building up. The buoyancy and familiarity of the text could cause us to gloss over the poetic brilliance of “the matter[s] under heaven.” But when we get to “a time to hate” and “a time to kill,” the romance is—well, killed. Are all these emotions and events really ordained by God? The strength of the poem is in contrast and repetition. By laying the seasons side by side, the Preacher effectively captures the span and cycle of human life. He isn’t providing a list of experiences that we should check off our holistic life to-do list. Rather, he is emphasizing an absolute need for reliance on God.
Although evil seems to wield power in our lives and in the lives of those around us, God is present. He is there when we experience delights, and He is present when tragedy and sin overwhelm us. When we experience the death of those we love, send a soldier off to war, or experience hate, we can know that God is still making Himself known to fallen people in a fallen world.
We must pray for the Spirit to help us judge the seasons and respond appropriately to Him—with wisdom, like the Preacher advocates. We can live confidently, because “He has put eternity into man’s heart” (Eccl 3:11). Nothing assures us more of this than His provision of a way out of life’s seasons through His Son.
What season of life are you currently in? How are you helping friends in difficult seasons? How are you celebrating with friends in joyful seasons? How can you bring the good news of Christ to bear in both situations?
REBECCA VAN NOORD
Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
- For the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house unto the land that I will show thee. And I will make of thee a great nation, and will bless thee, and make thy name great, and thou shalt be a blessing. I will also bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee, and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, even as the Lord spake unto him, and Lot went with him, (and Abram was seventy and five years old, when he departed out of Haran) then Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they possessed, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran, and they departed to go to the land of Canaan, and to the land of Canaan they came. So Abram passed through the land unto the place of Shechem, and unto the plain of Moreh (and the Ce was in the land) And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, unto thy seed will I give this land. And there built he an altar unto the Lord, which appeared unto him. Afterward removing thence unto a mountain Eastward from Bethel, he pitched his tent having Bethel on the West side, and Ai on the East, and there he built an altar unto the Lord, and called on the Name of the Lord. Again Abram went forth going and journeying toward the South. Then there came a famine in the and: therefore Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there: for there was a great famine in the land. And when he drew near to enter into Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife, Bhold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon: Therefore it will come to pass that when the Egyptians see thee, they will say, this is his wife: so will they kill me, but they will keep thee alive. Say, I pray thee, that thou art my sister, that I may fare well for thy sake, and that my life may be preserved by thee. Now when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman: for she was very fair. And the Princes of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her unto Pharaoh: so the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house: Who entreated Abram well for her sake, and he had sheep, and beeves, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels. But the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues, because of Sarai Abram’s wife. Then Pharaoh called Abram, and said, Why hast thou done this unto me? Wherefore diddest thou not tell me, that she was thy wife? Why saidest thou, She is my sister, that I should taker her to be my wife? Now therefore behold thy wife, take her and go thy way. And Pharaoh gave men commandment concerning him: and they conveyed him forth and his wife, and all that he had. Then Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him toward the South. And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver and in gold. And he went on his journey from the South toward Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, Unto the place of the altar, which he made there at the first: and there Abram called upon the Name of the Lord. And Lot also, who went with Abram, had sheep, and cattle and tents, So that the land could not bear them, them that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together. Also there was debate between the herdsmen of Abram’s cattle, and the herdsmen of Lot’s cattle, (and the Canaanites and the Perizzites dwelleth at that time in the land.) Then said Abram unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between thee and me, neither between mine herdsmen and thine herdsmen: for we be brethren. Is not the whole land before thee? depart I pray thee from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right: or if thou go to the right hand, then I will take the left. So when Lot lifted up his eyes, he saw that all the plain of Jordan was watered everywhere (for before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, it was as the garden of the Lord like the land of Egypt, as thou goest unto Zoar.) Then Lot chose unto him all the plains of Jordan, and took his journey from the East: and they departed the one to the other. Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot abode in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent even unto Sodom. Now the men of Sodom were wicked and exceeding sinners before the Lord. Then the Lord said unto Abram, (after that Lot was departed from him) Lift up thine eyes now, and look from the place where thou art, Northward, and Southward, and Eastward, and Westward: For all the land which thou seest, will I give unto thee, and to thy seed forever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed be numbered. Arise, walk through the land, in the length thereof, and breadth thereof: for I will give it unto thee. Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelled in Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar to the Lord. (Genesis 12-13)
- And he called his twelve disciples unto him, and gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every sickness, and every disease. Now the names of the twelve Apostles are these. The first is Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus whose surname was Thaddeus: Simon the Canaanite,and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him. These twelve did Jesus send forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into the cities of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. And as ye go preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick: cleanse the lepers: raise up the dead: cast out the devils. Freely ye have received, freely give. Possess not gold, nor silver, nor money in girdles, Nor a scrip for the journey, neither two coins, neither shoes, nor a staff: for the workman is worthy of his meat. And into whatsoever city or town ye shall come, inquire who is worthy in it, and there abide till ye go thence. And into whatsoever city or town ye shall come, inquire who is worthy in it, and there abode til ye go thence. And when ye come into an house, salute the same. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor your words, when ye depart out of that house, or that city, shake off the dust of your feet. Truly I say unto you, it shall be easier for them of the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city. Behold, I send you as sheep in the midst of the wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and innocent as doves. But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to the Councils, and will scourge you in their Synagogues. And ye shall be brought to the governors and kings for my sake, in witness to them, and to the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that hour, what ye shall say. For it is not ye that speak, but the spirit of the Father which speaketh in you. And the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son, and the children shall rise against their parents, and shall cause them to die. And ye shall be hated of all men for my Name: but he that endureth to the end, he shall be saved. And when they persecute you in this city, flee into another: for verily I say unto you, ye shall not go over all the cities of Israel til the Son of man be come. The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his Lord. It is enough for the disciple to be as his master is, and the servant as his Lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more them of his household? Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be disclosed, nor hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye on the houses. And fear ye not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him, which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing, and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father? Yea, all the hairs of your head are numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to send peace into the earth, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against his mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man’s enemies shall be they of his own household. He that loveth his father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me. And he that loveth son, or daughter more than me is nor worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followth me, is not worthy of me. He that will find his life, shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake, shall find it. He that receiveth you, receiveth me: and he that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me. He that receiveth a Prophet in the name of a Prophet, shall receive a Prophet’s reward: and he that receiveth a righteous man, shall receive the reward of a righteous man. And whosoever shall give unto one of these little ones to drink a cup of cold water only, in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward. (Matthew 10)
- To all things there is an appointed time, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die: a time to plant, and a time to slay, and a time to heal: a time to break down, and a time to build. A time to weep, and a time to laugh: a time to mourn, and a time to dance. A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones: a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embracing. A time to seek, and a time to sow: a time to keep silence, and a time to speak. A time to love, and a time to hate: a time of war, and a time of peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)