God’s Timing and Purposes – Ecc. 3:1-8
Pastor Vicky MootsKingman, Kansas
Ecc. 3:3b (continued): “…a time to break down and a time to build up.” This is a continuation of the meaning of this verse. This time I would like to use the physical body for an illustration, specifically using the example of bones and how they heal.
There are two types of cells in bones that help to maintain and heal them as well as to help regulate calcium at the proper levels in the blood stream by either breaking bone down or building it up. Bone is living, growing tissue, not just a rigid lattice-work, composed of calcium, phosphorus and other minerals. Osteoclasts are the bone cells that break down bone, and osteoblasts are the cells that build it up. Both are equally necessary.
So, what determines whether it is a “time to break down” or a “time to build up”? If you fall and break a bone, the injured bone bleeds. The bleeding results in chemical signals being released which cause the osteoclasts and osteoblasts in that area to become activated. The osteoclasts secrete enzymes that break down the calcium from the bone and release it into the blood stream, thereby breaking down the damaged bone. But at the same time the osteoblasts must take some of that calcium and use it to start building up new bone in and around the break to strengthen and repair it.
These two processes of breaking down and building up alternate until the healing is complete. This is all coordinated by various hormones that are released by the body, such as calcitonin, thyroid and parathyroid hormones, as well as Vitamin D.
How does this apply to us spiritually? In the natural, we usually break bones by falling. When God created Adam and Eve in The Garden, they were innocent and without sin and able to fellowship with God without fear. But then they fell: they sinned by disobeying God, and the result was a complete break in that relationship. Sin separated man from God, much like a broken bone is separated, and death entered the world, both physically and spiritually.
But God had already prepared a plan. He sent His Son to heal that relationship. The sacrifice of Jesus was able to mend the break by paying the penalty for sin to bring man and God back together.
The provision for this healing was made for all mankind on Calvary, but each individual must accept it personally. However, sinful man does not want to seek after God. In fact, he does everything to avoid God, as Paul tells us in Rom. 3:11: “There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.”
So how does God break down our hardened hearts and our pride and cause us to realize our need of a Savior, our need for spiritual healing? Jesus told His disciples, in John 16:7-8, that after He departed, He would send the Holy Spirit, who would “…reprove the world of sin…”
The word “reprove” means “to convince and convict.” The Holy Spirit penetrates our calcified, hardened hearts and breaks down all the barriers, all the excuses, all our self-righteousness, and convinces us that we have “…sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23), thus bringing conviction to our souls. The Holy Spirit functions in this manner much like the osteoclasts do in our body when they secrete the enzymes that break down the calcium in the injured bone at the site of the break and release it into the blood stream in order to start the process of healing.
Do you recall that I stated that this process in the physical body was triggered by the blood that flowed into the broken area as a result of the injury? Our spiritual healing is also on the basis of the blood, apart from which there can be no redemption.
In the physical body a hematoma, or collection of blood, forms between the two separated edges of the broken bone. The osteoblasts begin building up new bone by depositing calcium into that hematoma to form a bridge connecting the two pieces back together so that they can again become one, while the osteoclasts continue to break down the old damaged bone.
The same thing happens to us spiritually. It is the blood of Jesus that spans the gap between God and man. Paul tells us in Rom. 5:10 that “…we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son…” The word “reconciled” means “to be brought back together.”
If the osteoclasts represent the Holy Spirit who breaks down our hardened hearts and brings us to God, then what do the osteoblasts represent? What is it that builds us up after we have been broken down? It is the Word of His grace that functions for us spiritually like the osteoblasts do physically, as Paul tells us in Acts 20:32: “…the word of his grace…is able to build you up…”
The Holy Spirit convinces and convicts us of sin, breaks us down and draws us to God, and then reveals God’s Word to us to enable us to grow and be built up. Paul explains to us in Eph. 4 that the gifts of ministry (listed in v. 11) have been given to the church, for the purpose of “edifying,” or “building up,” the body of Christ.
As we listen to the ministering and teaching of God’s Word, specifically the Word of His grace, and receive it personally and study it, it will begin to work in our lives, just like the osteoblasts, to build us up. During this process, if our hearts become hardened or lifted up with pride, the Holy Spirit, like the osteoclasts, will be faithful to break us down again, to allow the work to progress. The breaking down and the building up will continue alternating, with the ultimate goal of building us up unto “…the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13).
In summary, in the Garden of Eden the relationship between man and God was broken when Adam fell. Sin separated man from God, but God has restored that broken relationship through His Son.
In the physical body, the resulting new, healed bone that is formed from a broken bone by the action of the osteoclasts and osteoblasts is actually stronger than the original bone before it was broken. And so, it is in the spiritual realm, regarding the union of man and God that was brought about by redemption. It is a new, permanent bond, one that cannot be broken, as we read in Rom. 8:38-39, that nothing “…shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”