There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
The Preacher of Wisdom offers us a musing that is appropriate for the turning of the year, about times and seasons and eternity. In the LXX, the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament, the words offered for “time” and “season” are chronos and kairos. Chronos is time kept according to clocks and calendars. Kairos is the purposeful aspect of time, the pregnant moment that signals a significant shift in the world.
Time and purpose move ever forward, though by turns and not in the straight lines for which we often long. There is, “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,” and so on (verses 2-8). But what is the point of it all? “What do workers gain from their toil?” the Preacher asks. “I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race” (verse 9). There is a travail and a humbling, but in his answer there is also a revelation and a yearning.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. (verses 10-11)God has made everything beautiful, but according to its “time.” Here, the LXX uses kairos. Everything comes to its own moment of fullness when its virtue and value are revealed, for God is always working his purpose and nothing is wasted in his plan, but is turned to beauty. Even the evil that occurs, he is able to redirect it toward his own good ends, to bestow “beauty instead of ashes” and “joy instead of mourning” (Isaiah 61:3).
Everything is pressing us towards eternity, the age of the world to come. There is a fullness yet to be discovered, the depths of which we do not and cannot now understand, but God has set it in our hearts. This fullness toward which we are heading is found in Jesus Christ.
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.God has set this yearning in our hearts. Indeed, he has set Lord Jesus, the True Light who gives light to everyone in the world, in our hearts, and we are restless until we turn to him. For in him is eternal life, the life of the age to come. Yet his life is for us even now, in this present age, to be lived and experienced as we yield to the Holy Spirit. In Christ, “the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining” (1 John 2:8). Let us begin this new year, then, embracing eternity, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, in our hearts.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.” (Revelation 21:1-6)