“A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up [that which is] planted;” Ecclesiastes 3:2
How many times has this verse been used to comfort and console those who have lost a loved one? But how many people really believe what this verse says? Probably, if I had to guess, not many. This verse refers to several aspects that at first glance don’t have much in common. What does planting something and then plucking it up have to do with being born and then dying? I am not a farmer, but I did work on a mint farm for a very short time. While there, I watched as the brothers had a specific time that they needed to plant the mint. There was only a short window in which they could get it planted. If you miss that window, you will not get the results that you desire. They also had a specific window in which they could pluck up that which was planted in order to get the results they desired. Just like each of us had a specific day to be born according to God’s purpose and plan we also have a specific day in which we are to die and along with that I firmly believe that the way in which we die is also part of God’s purpose and plan.
I would like to focus on two aspects of this verse. One is God being the giver of life and the other is God being the taker of life. As with the plant, the seed has no choice in when it is planted and has no choice when it is time to be plucked up. So also with us. We have no choice as to when we are to be born and we have no choice when it is time for God to pluck us up.
Let’s look first at God being the giver of life. I can still remember when Tori, my wife gave birth to Trace our first born, and for that matter each of the next three. When holding them for the first time, I could feel nothing but thankfulness. I know that it was God who gave us these wonderful gifts and blessings.
Look at Genesis chapter 21 verses 1 and 2: “And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken. For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.”
Had not God promised Abraham that he would bear a son before this? Look back at chapter 17 at a few verses:
“And Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.” (1-2)
And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her; yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her. Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? And shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and his seed after him.” (15-19)
Here God took two people that were definitely beyond their baby making years and what did he do? He promised them that they would bear not just a child but a son. Then not only was he promised a son but also in chapter 21 it makes it evident that the son was born on “the set time of which God had spoken to him.” Then I think of Rachel and Lea. Lea was not the favorite but God blessed her in her womb, while Rachel was barren until God’s appointed time for her to conceive Joseph. Was that just a fluke? Was it an accident or fluke or sin in her life that she was barren up to that time? Was that just an accident that she conceived in that exact time? I have to respond to those questions with an emphatic NO!!! Chapter thirty of Genesis in verse twenty-two makes it very plain that it was no accident. “And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb.” Notice WHO is emphasized in this passage. It is God who has opened the womb, not man or drugs or pleading or anything else. How many couples are not content with God’s time and purpose and rely on worldly wisdom. By that I mean going with fertility drugs. I still firmly believe that no matter what drugs you take or don’t take, God is the one who gives life at his appointed time. Then speaking of our Lord Jesus Christ, it was no accident as to when He was to be born into this world. Look at Galatians 4:4 “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law”. Praise God that He sent His Son at His appointed time.
“A time to die...” Job 7:1 “Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth? are not his days also like the days of an hireling?” Job 14:5 “Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass;” Job 14:14 “If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.”
I work in a dispatch center and I hear about death and dying almost weekly at times. One night I was working and we had three separate accidents with four separate deaths involved. A little while ago, my supervisor pulled me aside and asked how I was doing. He specifically mentioned that one night when I had the four deaths. I told him that I was doing ok and that it didn’t really affect my work and me. What I didn’t tell him though is that it did have an effect on me in the fact that it really puts to heart one aspect of God’s Sovereignty. What I mean by that is the ways in which some of these people have died. One gentleman ran off the road in a semi truck and was buried in carrots. He was carrying a load of carrots and in the crash they all came off the truck and buried him. That same night, one of the other ones was a double on a motorcycle. There was very little traffic out that night. The driver over corrected the motorcycle and lost control. The passenger was thrown several feet, took out a four by four post before landing several feet farther. The driver was also thrown from the bike but in a way that broke his pelvis immediately. Then the last one was because these subjects were out drinking and joy riding and lost control of their vehicle. There were four in the vehicle and only one died. Another one was when a gentleman stopped to help change a tire on the freeway, when he finished and got back in his car, someone hit him in his car and he was killed instantly. Now, if he wasn’t at that specific place at that specific time, it wouldn’t have happened. I could go on and on with incidents of happenings that take place in order to accomplish God’s purpose and will. I don’t bring these up to be cruel or crude, but to emphasize a point. When it is our time to leave this body, nothing can stop it and nobody can say no. We could choke on a pea, get hit by a car, die of cancer or any other means that God has chosen. There was also one other incident that I would like to bring up. About 25 miles from where we live there is a wonderful lookout point that has a very deep and steep drop off. Many people have died at this point. We received a call from someone that a subject jumped off it, and got hung up in some vines about 30-40 feet down. This subject ended up living with just bumps and bruises. What happened was that this subject was helping push a vehicle that was out of gas by this area. A car was coming the other way, and the subject got scared and jumped out of the way. They didn’t realize where they were and what they jumped into. The world’s viewpoint on this is that it was a miracle of God and that He must have something big in store for that person. I in all honesty don’t have any idea what God has in store for that person, but what I do know is that bottom line, it wasn’t this subject’s time yet and was spared.
These examples remind me of a few in Scripture that I would like to bring up. Look at Numbers chapter twenty in reference to Aaron. Verses twenty-four to twenty-eight say: “Aaron shall be gathered unto his people: for he shall not enter into the land which I have given unto the children of Israel, because ye rebelled against my word at the water of Meribah. Take Aaron and Eleazar his son, and bring them up unto mount Hor: And strip Aaron of his garments, and put them upon Eleazar his son: and Aaron shall be gathered unto his people, and shall die there. And Moses did as the LORD commanded: and they went up into mount Hor in the sight of all the congregation. And Moses stripped Aaron of his garments, and put them upon Eleazar his son; and Aaron died there in the top of the mount: and Moses and Eleazar came down from the mount.”
Noticed that God had a specific time that Aaron was to die and that He orchestrated how it played out. Also, I think of King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel chapter 4 verses 18-37. God gave King Nebuchadnezzar a vision and then through the interpretation of Daniel told the King that he would be as the beasts of the field for a specific time. Now, why didn’t he die out there in the field? He was out there in the field eating grass, his fingernails and toenails growing long. I am sure that all of his clothes were long gone because of the reference to his hair being like “eagles feathers” before he came to his senses. His time had not come for him to die is the only reason for him not dying out there in the field. Then lastly I want to bring up two more incidents from Scripture. Look with me at Acts chapter 12:20-24
“And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon: but they came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus the king’s chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king’s country. And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man. And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost. But the word of God grew and multiplied.”
Verse 23: “immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, ... and he was eaten of worms”. God had complete control over this death. He did it in His time and in His way. Why did this happen, but because he did not give the glory to God that was due Him, but took it to himself.
Also, we have a similar example in the Old Testament. Look at 2 Chronicles chapter 21:18-19 “And after all this the LORD smote him in his bowels with an incurable disease. And it came to pass, that in process of time, after the end of two years, his bowels fell out by reason of his sickness: so he died of sore diseases. And his people made no burning for him, like the burning of his fathers.”
Man is totally and one hundred percent in the hands of a Holy and Righteous God. Man in his egotistical self righteous way of thinking would like to think that we have control and yet we see from this study that we do not. The true believer will take comfort in these verses and glory in them. They will give great peace and comfort to them. For they know that “all things work together for good to those that love God and are called according to His purpose.” My birth and yours was ordained from all eternity to happen at the precise time it happened and in the precise place it happened. My death and yours will happen in the precise time and the precise manner in which God has fore-ordained it to happen and not one day or minute sooner!
One in hope,