Dear Ministry Partner,
Have you heard any of these statements: “What time is it?” “How much time do I have?” “I don’t have time.” My favorite: “I’m giving you a time out.” In fact, time is fleeting. It is something we cannot save or make up. Like when we say, “I need to catch up on my sleep,” if you haven’t slept, then sleep is lost — as is the time that could have been used in sleep to refresh body and mind.
THE CREATOR OF TIME
As we continue our study of Ecclesiastes, Solomon brings us face to face in chapter three with the fact that God has appointed a time for everything (here’s that phrase again) “under the sun.” Because God is the Creator of time, we should give serious consideration to how we use it. Before we look at Solomon’s admonition, let me call your attention to two passages in the Book of Revelation that look at the End of Time, or End of the Age as it is also called.
The first verse is Revelation 1:3, “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.” John is setting the stage for his letters to the Seven Churches as he addresses the need to take seriously the Word of God.
The second verse is Revelation 22:10, “And he said to me, ‘Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand.’” John warns that the time of Yeshua’s return is near. While we consider Solomon’s sage advice, let’s keep John’s warning in mind.
From the wisdom of his experiences in life, Solomon is offering the fact that everything in life is in the hands of God. I can imagine that you, as I at times, have struggled with God’s sovereignty. In living life “under the sun” (Solomon’s thesis statement), our human nature causes each of us to ask “why” about certain aspects of life.
I must confess that I have questioned God at many turns and have been reminded that trusting God is always rewarded with a peace that passes understanding. Paul wrote to the church in Philippi about that kind of peace: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). And Isaiah reassured: “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You” (Isaiah 26:3).
THE SEASONS OF TIME
- Ecclesiastes 3:2
- “A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted”
Solomon records 14 pairs of opposites in Ecclesiastes 3:2–8. Curiously to me, he begins with birth and death. These are two moments in time over which we have no control.
Imagine Jeremiah’s sense of encouragement when he was told, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5). Not one person, including you and me, is here by accident. God has a plan for every person because He loves us and has made us in His image. That alone is an awesome thought!
The opposite warning is given to all mankind in Hebrews 9:27, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” God knew us before we were formed in the womb, and He knows the day and hour when He will call us back to Himself. Sobering thoughts.
Solomon continues with an example in agricultural planting and harvesting. Timing is important not only in agriculture but also in decisions of daily life. How often have you been faced with a decision that had a time frame? I’m sure you are thinking of something at this very moment that has a time limit on the decision you must make. Solomon was conscious of time because he was making daily decisions on behalf of a nation. How’s that for stress!
- “A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up”
Verse three has caused much consternation among theologians because it seems harsh. Perhaps Solomon was remembering his father David, who was involved in military battles; or maybe Solomon was looking across the land at a certain sickness that plagued the country.
- “A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance”
Verse four hits home for all of us. There is a time to weep and mourn, laugh and dance. Can you remember attending the memorial service for someone close to you, and the range of emotions you experienced? At one moment you are in tears, and then a family member tells a funny story that brings smiles and laughter. That’s the point Solomon is making. We all face tragedy in life and moments that crush our spirits, but then God brings a memory that lifts that bruised heart.
- “5A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6a time to gain, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away.”
Verses five and six come together in a unique way. There is a time in life to cast stones (v.5) or to throw away (v.6). There is also a time to gather stones (v.5) or keep things (v.6). In the Middle East, farmers often mark their agricultural property with a row of stones, or in some cases a short stone wall. Some of the smaller stones also are stacked to mark an entrance to that property. There may be no legal document to the property, but each farmer respects the claimed property of the other, or at least that’s the idea.
- “A time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak”
Then in verse seven, Solomon speaks to the moment when a person tears his robes in mourning. It is exactly what Job did when he received word that he had lost his children and property. “Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped” (Job 1:20).
- “A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace”
In verse eight he speaks of love, hate, war, and peace. Is hate something that Christians should do? The Bible says yes! And here is one passage that supports that admonition from Solomon. “You who love the Lord, hate evil! He preserves the souls of His saints; He delivers them out of the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 97:10). Those are God’s inspired words, not mine.
Solomon’s attitude about life suddenly seems to change in verses nine to fifteen. He sees the toils of this life as worthwhile assignments from the hand of God. He recognizes that our outlook on life affects all that we attempt to do. Why? Verse eleven tells us that God has put eternity in the hearts of His people. In reality, we will never have complete satisfaction in this life because God made us for another world.
When we fear God, we have the confidence to fear nothing else. When we trust God, we have nothing to fear. Note Psalm 111:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; good understandings have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.”
THE GOD OVER TIME
Remember the main idea if nothing else from this letter: God loves you and wants the best for you. In time, God sent His Son to pay the penalty for our sin. He has made a way for Believers (“Believers” is short for “believers in Yeshua/Jesus as Messiah.”) to be redeemed, purchased away from a certain eternity without Him. I would be a fool not to emphasize that point in this letter!
The final seven verses of chapter three contain a few remaining thoughts from Solomon. Don’t misinterpret Solomon’s words in verses nineteen and twenty.
For what happens to the sons of men also happens to animals; one thing befalls them: as one dies, so dies the other. Surely, they all have one breath; man has no advantage over animals, for all is vanity. All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust. (Ecclesiastes 3:19–20)
He is graphically pointing out that man and beast have two common characteristics: They both die, and they both return to dust (as noted in Genesis 2:7). The difference: At death, man’s spirit returns to God. As Solomon will reiterate: “Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7).
(If you want to believe that you will meet your pet again in Heaven, I won’t argue the point. I find no evidence in the Bible that suggests that’s the case … but, then, God can perform miracles He doesn’t inform us about ahead of time. And Revelation shows Messiah and His army on horses!)
Solomon concludes chapter three of his journal with advice to accept life from the hand of God and enjoy each moment of time while we can. I like what Paul wrote in Philippians 4:11, “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.”
Standing firm with Israel and ZLM,Tony Derrick
P.S. Time passes swiftly. It is a sobering fact that we each have only so much of it to invest in the lives of others. We Believers must make it count! Please keep Zola Levitt Ministries in your prayers as you devote time to supporting Yeshua’s Great Commission (Matthew 28:19–20).
Your personal invitation to join Zola Tours in the Holy Land
Solomon wrote about time. Is it time for you to join us on a trip to Greece and Israel? If you’ve never experienced Greece, the Greek Islands, Israel, and the wonder of Petra in Jordan, move it to the top of your “must do” list. A Holy Land Bible-study tour would change your life for the good — guaranteed! Begin by touching base with Sandra in our Zola Tours office. Phone her at 214-696-9760, email her at email@example.com, or visit levitt.com/tours. She can help you prepare for this unforgettable journey of a lifetime!
|Deluxe (Israel only)||Oct 19–29||$5,288|
|Grand Petra (Israel & Petra)||Oct 19–Nov 01||$6,488|
|Grand Athens (Greece & Israel)||Oct 13–29||$8,288|
|Ultra Grand (Greece & Israel & Petra)||Oct 13–Nov 01||$9,488|
A Note from David and Kirsten Hart
Regarding the subject of time, we hope that Our Jewish Roots television program and ZLM will continue until the Rapture.
Kirsten and I are just beginning our fourth year as the co-hosts of Zola Levitt Presents / Our Jewish Roots. We personally thank you for supporting us and believing in our roles. We enjoy being part of this big, beautiful family and hope we can someday meet you personally. But for now, we send you our love and gratitude. There are wonderful days ahead for this ministry, and we’re honored to be a meaningful part of what God is doing through ZLM.
Our Jewish Roots programs this month
Our television producer, Ken Berg, keeps going to the Holy Land and producing new and insightful Bible-teaching series. He has some informative programs in post-production, ready to air next month. Meanwhile, we hope you enjoy each week of Our Jewish Roots. Viewers who have been with us for awhile can confirm that the only recent change in the program has been the title. Some of you ZLMers were concerned that our mission was changing. We are confident that the content’s value has been impacting progressively more viewers.
This month, a new program all about Passover and Easter is a must-see. Zola was a pioneer in connecting the Christian world with its Jewish roots, and he began with an explanation of the Jewish Seder and Feast of Passover. Celebrating the Resurrection becomes more meaningful once you understand how it fits with Passover. Be sure to watch or record this study.
April continues In the Footsteps of the Rabbi from Tarsus that follows the Apostle Paul around the ancient Roman Empire. Dr. Jeffrey Seif analyzes Paul’s divinely inspired letters to early Church congregations.
- Galatians and Thessalonians
- In Ephesus, Jeff looks at the first New Testament book written by Paul — to the Galatians in defense of including non-Jewish Believers. Paul writes a loving letter from Athens to the suffering church in Thessalonica.
- Passover and the Easter Connection
- Dr. Seif shows the connection of Passover, the Crown Jewel of the Jewish Feasts, to the Christian celebration of Resurrection Sunday when he explains the foods on the Seder plate and in discussions with David and Kirsten Hart.
- Corinthians and Romans
- At the ruins of Corinth, Jeff reviews the letter Paul wrote to shore up the struggling church that he started there. His second letter included encouragement to support Corinth’s Jewish Believers. Paul’s letter to the church in Rome addressed its division between Jewish and gentile Believers.
- Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians
- Paul wrote many letters from his Roman prison cell. To the Colossians, he wrote of reconciliation. To the Ephesians, how God had built a new house for all Believers. The Philippians received a friendly thank you for their help and encouragement to foster their growth.
- Timothy and Titus
- Paul asked Timothy to stay in Ephesus to build up the leadership in that church. In his letter to Titus, Paul sought to bring stability to the congregations Titus shepherded in Crete. Paul’s second letter to Timothy was his last. In it, he spurred Believers to be strong and finish well.
This study on Paul would be beneficial for your Sunday School class to watch and discuss. Every Our Jewish Roots series is available for purchase in our ministry store at store.levitt.com.
Many viewers assume that most television ministries are well off financially. While we at ZLM have been thankfully able to cover our monthly overhead, we still operate on a shoestring budget. We are frugal, to put it mildly. Our limited fund appeals on the program don’t inspire casual viewers to support us. Rather, they alert you, our ZLM family members, to our ongoing financial needs.
Costs for printing, postage, and television time keep increasing — yes, we have to buy those TV slots, and they are expensive. Meanwhile, the basic overhead of staffing and maintaining a ministry steadily compounds. Would you prayerfully continue your financial support of Zola Levitt Ministries? Thank you in advance.
Sha’alu shalom Yerushalayim! —
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! — Psalm 122:6
David & Kirsten
P.S. This well-established outreach has survived for over forty (41!) years because generous Believers like you invest in our unique Biblical message.