God’s Timing and Purposes – Ecc. 3:1-8
Vicky Moots – Pastor, Kingman, Kansas
Ecc. 3:2a: “A time to be born and a time to die…” The emphasis is on God’s timing. All animals have specific gestational times, the length of time it takes for the embryo to become fully developed and to be born or the egg to be hatched. Human babies take 40 weeks, or 9 months, from the time of conception.
There was a set time in history that God planned for Jesus to be born, according to God’s time table. Paul tells us this in Gal. 4:4-5: “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law…”
In order to do this, He had to plan the date of the visitation of the angel Gabriel to the virgin, Mary, to announce to her that she was a chosen vessel to give birth to the Son of God. The Holy Spirit had to over shadow Mary and conceive the life of Jesus in her at the specific time of the month that she ovulated. Not only was the time of Jesus’ conception planned, but so was the time and place of His birth. At the exact time that Mary was due to deliver the baby Jesus, God caused Caesar Augustus to decree taxation causing Joseph and Mary to have to travel to Bethlehem to be taxed based on their genealogy. That also meant that the time of Caesar’s birth was planned by God, as well as that of Mary and Joseph’s.
We read in Luke 2:5-6 that Joseph went “To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.” That timing was not by accident. Jesus was born at the exact time and place that God had planned in order to fulfill the prophecy that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem.
Psalm 22 is a prophetic Messianic Psalm referring to Jesus, and is descriptive of death by crucifixion, especially v. 16 which states, “…they pierced my hands and my feet.” Crucifixion did not even exist at the time that this Psalm was written.
Jesus had to be born at a time in history when crucifixion was used for execution in order that He would be crucified and “hanged on a tree,” signifying that He was cursed and became sin for us. Paul tells us this in Gal. 3:13: “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” So, we see that the time of His birth was planned. What about His death? Jesus came into this world for the purpose of dying for our sins. The amount of time that He spent on this earth was planned by God, up to and including the day and time of His death.
It is recorded in John 7 that the Jews were trying to kill Jesus before it was His time to die. Verse 1 states, “After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him.” We read that His brethren tried to get Him to go up to the Feast of Tabernacles, but Jesus told them in v. 8, “Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up yet unto this feast; for my time is not yet full come.” Jesus knew it was not yet His time to die.
It had been planned by God that Jesus would die at the time of Passover and become the final Passover Lamb. He told His disciples as they ate the Passover supper that He was going to be betrayed and die, and that the wine and bread represented His own blood and body.
Then He took them to Gethsemane to pray. When He awakened the sleeping disciples, in Mark 14:41, after praying, He told them, “…it is enough, the hour is come…” He knew it was now His time to die. Immediately after that, Judas came and betrayed Him with a kiss, and they arrested Him and then crucified Him according to God’s time table.
He died on the cross at the time appointed by God, before evening, so that the soldiers would not have to break His legs. The Passover lamb was not allowed to have any of its bones broken, and so the Scripture was fulfilled regarding Jesus, who was the Lamb of God. We find this recorded in John 19:33-34, 36-37: “But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: but one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side…For these things were done, that the scripture might be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.”
Now I will discuss things from a medical standpoint.
The cause of death from crucifixion is from asphyxiation, lack of oxygen, not from blood loss. So that means that Jesus did not shed His blood simply from the act of crucifixion. A person being crucified eventually becomes so weak that he cannot hold himself up long enough with his legs to take a breath, and so he dies from lack of oxygen. The soldiers would sometimes have to break the legs of the criminals to cause them to die sooner so that their bodies could be taken down off of the cross in a timely manner.
How, then, did Jesus shed His blood if He died by suffocation? Jesus needed to be able to shed His blood in order to atone for our sins, as we read in Heb. 9:22: “and without shedding of blood is no remission [of sin].”
When a person dies, the heart stops beating, and the blood vessels collapse, causing the blood to back up into the heart and pool there. As a coroner I have had to obtain blood samples for postmortem toxicology, but since people don’t bleed after they die, how was that possible for me to do that? I would do that by inserting a long needle through the bottom part of the chest up into the main cavity of the heart, the left ventricle, and drawing out some of the blood that was there. So, God planned for the soldier to pierce Jesus’ heart with a spear, allowing all of His pooled blood to flow out. All of this was possible and happened because He died at the exact time that He did, according to God’s time clock, and did not need to have His legs broken. Thus, redemption was accomplished according to God’s purpose and according to His time.