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What is the poem in Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 saying?
Often people make the mistake of seeing the “Time Poem” as saying that God makes things everything happen in the perfect time for us, yet the whole theme of Ecclesiastes is the examination of “everything people work at under the sun.” The poem is a list of activities that people do and so the list includes such things as being born, dying, killing and war.
Kohelet, the writer of Ecclesiastes, is seeking to discover if there is anything of lasting benefit to be gained from all these things that we pursue. HIs conclusion throughout the book is that the pursuits of humans will eventually fail and leave us with nothing for they are all futile. At the end of the time poem he will say “So how can we gain anything from our toil if the seasons of life keep us constantly working. God confines our busy lives with in the framework of time but also plants eternity in our hearts. This makes it impossible for us to figure out what God is doing from the beginning to the end.”
He goes in the next section to note how much injustice there is in the world and to comment on how God will one day look over all these things that people do and that as some point “there also will be a time to evaluate every activity, a time to judge every deed.” This is where God enters into the picture and the things we have done are evaluated as good or evil. This same thought is echoed at the end of the book by an early biographer of Kohelet’s who adds – “one day everything we do, including every secret thing, will be judged as evil or good.”
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