Introduction: My wife and the Holy Spirit sometimes seem to be
partners! For example, when I drive to church to teach this lesson,
I will be anxious to take as little time as possible. I leave my home
on time, but I want to move right along. If two drivers slow me down
by (for example) driving beside each other so no one can pass, this
irritates me and I will have something important to say to improve
their driving manners. If the traffic lights are not timed, I’ll
talk about that too. As my wife points out, only she gets to hear the
lecture on driving manners, timed lights and the relative
intelligence of other drivers – and she has heard the same lecture
too many times to count! Why do I do this? As my wife points out, it
makes no sense. What my wife and the Holy Spirit are working on is
my misguided sense about time. Hurry up with everything! Our lesson
this week is about time, so let’s clock in!

  1. Seasons

    1. Read Ecclesiastes 3:1. Do you like having seasons or
      would you just as soon cancel some seasons? (My wife loves
      the fall and early winter. She likes cooler temperatures,
      likes the beauty of fall, and loves the Thanksgiving-Christmas time of year. I like summer and dislike

      1. If you agree with me about cancelling winter, what
        would you do about some of the winter activities that
        you like? (Solomon is making that point. Certain
        seasons of our life allow us to do different things.)

      2. Would it be fair to compare your life to the seasons
        of the year? (We often see this, spring is when we
        are young, summer when we are 20-40 years of age.
        Fall is 40-60. Winter is 60-80.)

        1. Like the seasons of the year, are certain
          activities more appropriate to certain seasons
          of our life?

    2. Read Ecclesiastes 3:2-3. Do we really have any control
      over our time? (When I was talking about driving and time
      in the introduction, one major reason for my frustration
      is that I really have little control over my driving time.
      I cannot control other drivers or traffic lights. This
      text refers to other matters over which we have little
      control of the timing.)

    3. Read Ecclesiastes 3:4. Last week we studied laughter and
      whether it was good or bad. What does this text suggest
      about laughter? (Solomon reaches the conclusion we did –
      that laughter has its time and place. It is not a goal, it
      is the result of a life well lived.)

      1. The “activities” mentioned in this verse are
        emotions. How much control do we have over our
        emotions and the timing of them?

    4. Read Ecclesiastes 3:5-8. Some of these activities make me
      wonder. When is the correct time for scattering stones, or
      tearing or hating? (At least some of these words may be
      symbolic. The Wycliffe Bible Commentary says that “casting
      stones” is a Hebrew metaphor for the marriage act.
      “Tearing” is a reference to tearing your cloths because
      you are sad. Mending refers to the time when your grief
      has passed.)

      1. What control do we have over the time for these
        activities in our life?

      2. What about hating? Is there really a proper time for

        1. Read Proverbs 6:16-19. If God hates something,
          is it okay for us to hate it too? (Read
          Revelation 2:6. The answer seems to be yes.)

  2. Above the Sun

    1. Our criticism of Solomon so far deals with his focus on
      things here on earth, while rarely making any note of
      heavenly considerations. Read Ecclesiastes 3:9-11. What is
      man’s burden, according to Solomon? (That a desire to live
      eternally, to know about matters beyond this world, exists
      in the human heart – but we cannot understand eternity.)

      1. How much do we need to understand eternity? How much
        do we “need to know?” (Solomon has been consistently
        arguing that everything here is meaningless. If that
        is your view, then eternity would be incredibly
        important to you.)

      2. Is there some other way you could interpret Solomon’s
        statement that we are burdened by our inability to
        understand “what God has done from beginning to end?”
        (Some things in life simply do not make sense. I
        remember visiting a church where a lady invited me to
        her home to explain to an older couple why their
        parents and children were all killed in the same
        automobile accident. Needless to say, such an
        explanation was beyond me. It would be nice to
        understand God’s workings from beginning to end, but
        we need to accept the “burden” of trusting God while
        we still live in a sinful world.)

    2. Read Ecclesiastes 3:12-14. Many people do not find
      satisfaction in their job. How important is job
      satisfaction? (Since Solomon says this is a gift from God,
      we should look for those gifts, pursue those gifts. This
      is where Luke 12:31 comes in, seek the kingdom of God
      first and these other gifts will come your way.)

      1. When Solomon says that “nothing can be added” to
        God’s work or “taken from it,” is he including the
        work of humans? We cannot add or detract from God’s

        1. If you say, “no,” tell me what we can add to the
          work of God? (Read Ecclesiastes 3:15. I think
          this gives the sense of Solomon’s statement:
          that in the big scheme of things, humans do not
          change what God has done. In the details of
          life, however, I think we are God’s partners to
          do His will.)

          1. The commentary, “Be Satisfied,” notes that
            the last phrase of Ecclesiastes 3:15 (“and
            God will call the past to account”) is
            literally translated “God seeks what
            hurries along.” Is God part of the details
            of our life? (Yes. We may not be changing
            the “big picture,” but God is part of our
            every day life.)

  3. Judgment

    1. Read Ecclesiastes 3:16. What is wrong with our world?
      (That justice and judgment are displaced by wickedness.)

    2. Read Ecclesiastes 3:17. What is the cure for that problem?
      (That God will execute judgment and justice.)

      1. This gets us back to an old issue: would a loving God
        execute judgment on humans? What would be Solomon’s
        answer to this question? (Yes! The implication is
        that judgment shows a loving God. It is not the
        opposite of love, it is part of love. A life without
        justice is simply unfair. Part of God’s promise to
        humans is that He is fair – more than fair in fact.)

      2. If you agree that judgment is good (except, of
        course, when it is executed on you), what practical
        lesson can we learn from Solomon saying there is a
        “time” for judgment? (In Ecclesiastes 3:16 Solomon
        says that he finds wickedness in place of justice and
        judgment. Even though we may find that things are
        unfair right now, there will be a time for judgment.
        God will put things right.)

    3. A member of my class sent me a note commenting on the
      “time” issue and saying that Jesus came to earth in God’s
      time. If you were Adam and Eve, would you have understood
      the delay?

      1. Are we better able to anticipate the time of God’s
        Second Coming and final execution of judgment? (This
        is part of the “burden” of Ecclesiastes 3:10 – Jesus’
        life, death and resurrection give us certainty of His
        Second Coming, but we do not know when. We do not
        understand the entire plan in any detail. (If you
        think I’m wrong, consider how badly God’s people
        misunderstood Jesus’ first arrival.))

    4. Read Ecclesiastes 3:18-19. My dear dog (of 12 years) died
      a few months ago. Is this an object lesson for me?

      1. Solomon calls my “dog destination” a test. What am I
        being tested on? ( Ecclesiastes 3:12 tells us to do
        good and be happy while we live. In one sense it is a
        test to know that your happy life will come to a not
        so happy conclusion. My dog had a miserable end. On
        the other hand, without God giving us eternal life,
        we have the exact same end as a dog. (By the way,
        since the Bible says there are animals in heaven, I’m
        hoping that my old dog has the same destination as me
        – heaven!))

    5. Read Ecclesiastes 3:19-21. I wanted you to look again at
      verse 19. Solomon says man has no advantage over the
      animal. Is that consistent with the rest of the Bible?

      1. Put verse 21 together with verse 19. What is Solomon
        saying? (He first says there is no life after death,
        and then he softens that by saying, “Who knows?”)

      2. Read Ecclesiastes 9:5. A lot of people who believe
        that death is an unconscious sleep until the
        resurrection, base their belief on this text. Is
        Solomon a reliable guide for truth about the
        afterlife? (If you rely on Solomon for your views
        about life after death, you need to find a new
        source. Solomon teaches in this same text that there
        is “no further reward” after death. “Soul sleep”
        people do not believe that!)

    1. Friend, read 1 Corinthians 15:12-22. What is our glorious
      hope? (Paul agrees with Solomon that without the hope of
      eternal life our faith is useless. Worse than useless,
      because it gives us the false hope that there is life
      after death. Because Jesus was raised from the dead,
      friend, you have the promise of eternal life if you
      determine to be “in Christ.” Will you make that decision

  1. Next week: More Life Under the Sun.