God’s Timing and Purposes – Ecc. 3:1-8
Vicky Moots, PastorKingman, Kansas
Ecc. 3:2b: “…a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.” Farmers know when it is the best time to plant their different crops, and they also know when it is time to harvest them, for there is a specific amount of growing time required for them to mature and fully ripen. They cannot be harvested too early or too late; it must be done at the right time even if it’s the weekend or a holiday.
New life comes from a seed only after it is buried, or planted. Then the outer covering deteriorates and is destroyed, allowing the “germ of life” to be freed to produce life out of death. All of this has a spiritual meaning as it refers to Jesus, and also to us as individuals, for it speaks of death and resurrection.
Jesus told His disciples in John 12:23-24, “…The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily [truly, truly], I say unto you, Except a corn [kernel] of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” Jesus was using the natural example of a grain of wheat being planted to illustrate the spiritual truth of the new creation. A single grain of wheat that is planted dies and brings forth new life, a stalk of wheat, which produces many more grains identical to itself when it is fully ripened.
Spiritually speaking, it was necessary for Jesus, the only Son of God, to die, to give His life, in order to give us new life. When He arose from the dead, it made it possible for us to also become sons of God by being born again and becoming a new creation, created in His image. This is the fruit that was produced by His death and resurrection. As a result, God now has many more spiritual sons in His family. After we are born again, we must also grow and mature spiritually. We are changed into His image by feeding upon the Word of God and letting the Holy Spirit make it real and practical in our lives.
The time of plucking up has both a natural and a spiritual meaning. It of course refers to the time when the planted seed is fully ripened and must be harvested. The spiritual meaning refers to the resurrection of Jesus when God plucked Him up out of the grave three days later at the specific time that was foretold. That three-day time period was also typified by the prophet Jonah, as Jesus stated in Matt. 12:40: “For as Jonas [Jonah] was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” But Paul tells us in Rom. 6:5 that Christ’s death also applies to us spiritually when we accept Him as our Savior: “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.”
When we are baptized as a profession of our faith, then we are actually acting out this spiritual truth physically by being immersed, or buried, in the water, and then raised up out of it, identifying ourselves with His death. Paul further explains this to us in Rom. 6:3-4: “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore, we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
That means that the physical act of baptism is an outward visible picture of an inward event which happened to us spiritually. It symbolizes the fact that our old life, our “old man,” as Paul calls it in Rom. 6:6, was crucified with Christ and therefore planted together with Him: “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him.”
There is a definite time in everyone’s life when this planting must take place, for there is “a time to plant.” When is that time? Paul answers that question in II Cor. 6:2: “…behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” If you have not accepted Christ as Savior that time is now, today! Tomorrow may be too late.
We are all dead spiritually until we find new life in Christ, and that which is dead needs to be buried, or planted. The good news is that after the planting comes the plucking up of that which was planted, the plucking up of a new life in Christ, resurrected with Him, as Paul declares in II Cor. 5:17: “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature [creation]: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Paul further describes this spiritual death and resurrection in Gal. 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me…”
Lastly, just as there was a specific time for Jesus’ physical body to die and then to be resurrected, or plucked up, so it will be true for our physical bodies. We read in Heb. 9:27, “…it is appointed unto man once to die…” An appointment is a specific time for a specific event, and that time has been appointed by God for each one of us. Our death and planting are certain, but so is our hope in Christ beyond the grave, our plucking up in resurrection, which is confirmed by Paul in I Cor. 15:19-20, 23: “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept [died]…Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” The term “first fruits” implies “after fruits,” or the resurrection of Christians who have died since His resurrection. God who was faithful to pluck up Christ from the grave will also pluck us up out of death, as Paul emphatically declares in I Thess. 4:16-17: “For the Lord himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up [plucked up] together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”