Types of Seasons
Eccl 3:1- 8 (NIV) “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”
Many of us have heard portions of Ecclesiastes Chapter 3. Not many of us, however, have taken the time to apply it our lives. Further, most of us don’t consult God to ask Him whether it’s the right to time to build, to uproot, to hold on to something or to get rid of something. Most people just look around, perhaps ask around, to gather information as they make decisions about their next steps without regard to the notion of seasons. They certainly don’t consider their next steps in the context of a season, a divine period of time in which God might have specific guidance, direction, and a plan of action that they are supposed to be tuned into.
Let's consider some natural examples. Suppose you were about to get engaged. That event could affect any choices you were considering pertaining to your career, location, and type of housing. Let’s consider another example. Suppose you had several athletic scholarship offers from different schools. s. You might consider things like your chances to make the starting lineup, the prestige of the team/school, and whether playing at that school would give you a greater chance at playing professionally.
In the engagement scenario, let’s just say that for whatever reason the engagement got called off. If you had known that would happen, would you have made a different career, location or housing decisions? In the case of the scholarship, let's think about what would happen if a highly recruited player, that plays the same position as you, shows up a year after you made your decision. If you had known that in advance would it have changed your college choice?
I know what some of you are thinking. You’re thinking, well nobody could have known those things were going to happen. You’re thinking that’s just the risk you take when you make any decision or take any course of action. But what if there was a way to know some things in advance, to get some “inside information?”
The premise of this book is that God is omnipotent, meaning that He knows everything. He knows the end of everything from the beginning. If we would just trust Him enough to ask Him, He can help us steer clear of pitfalls that we could never have seen coming. He might not always tell us why we shouldn’t go down a certain road, that wouldn’t allow our faith or trust in Him to grow. But He loves us enough to help us steer clear of things that could cause us harm or take us off the path that leads towards our destiny.
Often the timing is wrong for a decision we are trying to make. We want to do something and it’s not the right time or season according to God’s divine plan. There are only four natural seasons but as Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 shows us, there are many more spiritual seasons.
Ecclesiastes 3 says there is “a time to uproot.” I will refer to it as a season of going. In Genesis 12:1 (NIV) God told Abraham to “leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. In Jonah 1:2 (KJV) God told Jonah “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.” In 1 Kings 17:9-10 (NIV) God told Elijah “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food. So he went to Zarephath.” In Matthew 2:13 (NIV) an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt…for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
Just as there is a season of going there is also a season of staying and planting and building. In Gen 26:1-3 (NIV) God told Isaac to stay at a time when it seemed like he should go:
“Now there was a famine in the land—besides the previous famine in Abraham’s time—and Isaac went to Abimelek king of the Philistines in Gerar. The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham.”
In Gen 26:1 we learn that when famine hit in Abraham’s time, Abraham left and went to Egypt. We know from Scripture that Abraham’s move was a mistake. Abraham looked at the situation in the natural, which was a famine, and left for Egypt and then ended up lying and saying that Sarah was his sister to save his life in Egypt. So, in this second famine, God is basically saying Isaac don’t do what your father did, this is a season to stay and plant and build.
So many people think the famine-like situation that they are facing is a signal to pull up stakes and leave—that’s often because they are not sensitive to the voice of the Father. More specifically, they haven’t developed a relationship with the Father that is deep enough to hear His voice, His instructions, through the Holy Spirit, for specific direction in their current season.
Ecclesiastes says there is a time to “throw away.” We see two examples of this with Moses and the rich young ruler. In Heb 11:25 (KJV) Moses chose “to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.”
Mark 10:21-22 (NIV) says that Jesus looked at the rich young ruler and loved him and said, “One thing you lack,” “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” The Bible says that when the rich young ruler heard this that his “face fell” and “he went away sad, because he had great wealth.”
Moses did what the rich young ruler would not do. In his season of “throwing away” Moses, by faith, threw away the wealth of Egypt, and prince-like status. We know that what Moses gained after his season of throwing away was far greater than what he lost. Who knows what the rich young ruler would have gained. Isaiah 43:19 (ESV) says, “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” Jesus was trying to get the rich young ruler to move into a new thing but the prerequisite was to be sensitive to the fact that it was the season to throw away the old things.
The main point of this chapter is that there are different types of seasons and that it’s too complicated to figure out what actions you need to take in your current season without insight from God.
Brent Manion in his web article “Spiritual Seasons” makes some cool points that I think compliment the points I have been trying to make about divine seasons and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit:
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