God’s Timing and Purposes – Ecc. 3:1-8
Pastor Vicky MootsKingman, Kansas
Ecc. 3:5a: “A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together…” In the natural sense, if you have a piece of rocky ground and you want to plant a garden in it, you would need to discard the stones that are in your way, for you would consider them to have no value. And yet, at other times, stones are gathered together to make rock gardens or to construct stone fences or buildings. It is all a matter of your perspective and what you perceive as being important at that time.
An important spiritual correlation to this is the fact that Jesus is called the Cornerstone by Paul in Eph. 2:20: “…Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.” In addition, we, as Christians, are called living stones by Peter in I Pet. 2:5: “Ye also, as lively [living] stones, are built up a spiritual house…”
So let us explore this a little further. That would mean that there would be a time when spiritual stones would also be cast away and a time when they would be gathered together. To cast away something means “to discard or abandon” it because it is deemed as having no value.
Isaiah prophesied in Isa. 53:3 that the Messiah would be rejected: “He is despised and rejected of men…and we esteemed him not [as nothing].” But Isaiah also refers to Him as a precious corner stone in Isa. 28:16: “Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation.” Peter refers to this same Scripture in speaking of Jesus and explains to us how that He is both precious and yet rejected, in I Pet. 2:7-8: “Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed [rejected], the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient.”
To better understand the rejection of Jesus as a spiritual corner stone, I need to discuss the purpose and importance of an earthly corner stone in those days and how a corner stone was selected for use. A corner stone is also called a foundation stone because it is the first stone that was set in the construction of a building. It was usually a very large stone, the larger the better, that was cut out of a mountain for that specific purpose. It needed to have a 90-degree corner angle, because all the other stones were placed in reference to the cornerstone. Its purpose was to determine the position of the entire structure and to stabilize it. Before a corner stone was selected for use, it was carefully measured and tested (or tried) to be sure it was square, to ensure proper alignment for the rest of the building.
So why was Jesus rejected? We know that He was perfect in every way, just as the Passover lamb had to be perfect. I believe it was because He did not measure up to the religious expectations of a Messiah. Although Jesus lined up with God’s measurements, He did not line with their religious views. He was considered to be too small and insignificant, just like the small size of the manna in the wilderness.
He was poor and had a lowly birth that was deemed questionable. He was esteemed as “nothing,” as far as the religious world was concerned, and unworthy to be a King or Messiah. He came unto them “lowly, and riding upon an ass” as was foretold in Zech. 9:9, rather than a horse drawn chariot. They not only rejected Him, they hated Him and cast Him away as a small stone would be cast away.
Because the world hated and rejected Jesus, the Corner stone, it will also hate and reject us and cast us away, since we are His living stones, connected to Him. Jesus warned us of this in John 15:18-19: “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world…therefore the world hateth you.”
Now, what about the gathering of stones? Stones were gathered together for the purpose of building something. Spiritually, it can refer to Christians gathering together in Jesus’ name to worship and fellowship with each other as a body. Jesus said in Matt. 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” This is important to us spiritually, and we are warned in Heb. 10:25 to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together.
We are joined to each other, as well as to the Lord, for a purpose, which Peter explains to us in I Pet. 2:4: “To whom [Jesus] coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house…” Paul enlarges further regarding this spiritual house in Eph. 2:20-22 when he says that we are of the household of God, “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye are also builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”
Now is the time for gathering stones together. The Holy Spirit is currently gathering us, as living stones, together during this church age and placing us appropriately (fitly framed together) to form a spiritual temple for the Lord. Each one of us, no matter how small, is also chosen of God and precious in His sight, as was Jesus.
Even if we have been cast away by the world, the Lord will never cast us away. Jesus assures us of this in John 6:37: “…him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” Each one of us is important in God’s eyes.
God has chosen us and placed us alongside Jesus, the Corner stone, lining us up with Him (not with each other). This is done in the same manner in which a stone building is constructed, for all stones must be lined up with the corner stone itself. Paul tells us in I Cor. 3:10 that we are God’s building, and He is the one doing the work.
One day soon there will be another important time of gathering together of stones, God’s precious living stones, when the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout and with the trump of God, and we will be caught up together with Him in the air (I Thess. 4:16-17)!