There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear 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 scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
9 What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.
Whatever is has already been,
and what will be has been before;
and God will call the past to account.
One way to memorize Bible passages is to turn them into songs. Here's one example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4ga_M5Zdn4
The lyrics do not follow exactly the word sequence of Ecclesiastes 3, but they come close. Pete Seeger wrote this song (shall we say, plagiarized?) in the late 1950's. The Byrds made the song an international hit in late 1965 (by the way, a very good year).
Poignant, beautiful, philosophical -- these words set to music. And like many timely music that shapes a culture, this particular song became mixed with other folkish songs of that era, capturing the turmoil and longings of the late 1960's.
Because the song comes straight out of Ecclesiastes, the message of the song is what the verses of Ecclesiastes convey: that humans have little to no control over times/seasons and changes. The song does not stress this: but the One who determines the different times is the Sovereign God. In the ancient world, the "gods" or "fate" (in case of Greeks) were the ones who determined the big picture events of history. The Biblical picture rejects any notion that "gods" or "fate" determine anything. The times are ultimately set by God.
Is the moral of this passage mere acceptance? Since we have little or no control over times, is our job simply to resign ourselves and accept whatever times we happen to be living under?
In 1 Chronicles 12:32 (NASB), we read: Of the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do, their chiefs were two hundred; and all their kinsmen were at their command.
We cannot change the times, that's true. But we can "understand the times" and we can have "knowledge of what Israel should do." Discerning and understanding the times come from the Lord. In prophetic hearing do we gain access to the times we are living in. Sometimes what we see on the news captures the times; sometimes what we see on the news misses the true times according to God.
Wisdom comes from discerning truth. Wisdom also comes from the right application of truth. Discernment of truth, especially in regards to the times we are living in, comes from the One who truly knows.
Let's pray: Father God, we come before you this one day that's found within a larger day or time. We confess that you are the One who ultimately determines the particular time we are living in. We confess, despite how we feel emotionally or how things are now progressing or regressing, that we are living in a time of miracles. Miracles indicate that you are intimately involved, that you supernaturally attend to our situation. Discerning the times without you is basically a form of atheism. Or, at best, deism. We repent of any atheism or deism (God who is not involved but distant). We pray for the anointing of the "sons of Issachar," that we would understand your time and that you would grant us wisdom to know what to do. In Jesus' name, amen.