Ecclesiastes 3

A right time for everything

1 There is a right time for everything that we do under the sun.

2 There is a time to be born. And there is a time to die.

There is a time to plant seeds. Then the seeds will grow and they will become plants. And there is a time to pick the plants.

3 There is a time to kill. And there is a time to make people well.

There is a time to destroy something. And there is a time to build it again.

4 There is a time to weep. And there is a time to laugh.

There is a time to be sad. And there is a time to dance.

5 There is a time to throw stones away. And there is a time to pick them up.

There is a time to kiss. And there is a time to say goodbye.

6 There is a time to look for something. You look for something that you have lost.

And there is a time to stop looking for it.

There is a time to keep things.

And there is a time to throw them away.

7 There is a time to tear something down. And there is a time to mend it.

There is a time to be quiet. And there is a time to speak.

8 There is a time to love. And there is a time to hate.

There is a time to fight. And there is a time not to fight.

9 People get nothing for all the work that they do. 10 Their work is very difficult. And God has caused it to be like that. 11 But he also causes all things to happen at the right time. He puts questions in our minds. We want to know what happens after our death. We cannot understand all the things that God has done. 12 We should enjoy our lives. There is nothing better that we can do than that. We should also do good things during our lives. 13 We should get pleasure from what we eat. We should enjoy what we drink. And we should be happy when we are doing our work. These are all gifts from God.

14 Everything that God does will be for all time. We cannot do anything more than what God has done. We cannot take anything away from what he has done. God wants us to worship him. That is the reason for all that he does.

15 Future events will be the same as past events were.

God causes the same things to happen again and again.

3:15The Teacher is telling us when something is right. It is only right if we do it at the right time. And it is God who says this. He says whether it is right. We think that ‘under the sun’ (verse 1) means ‘here on the earth’. Also, God causes things to happen at the right time (verse 11). It is important to understand this. There is a reason for all the things that God does. And he wants us to worship him.

Are people like animals?

16 I saw something else about the people who live in this world.

People should say if something is wrong. But they say that it is right.

They should be fair to each other but they are not fair.

17 ‘God will be the judge of all good people and of all bad people’, I told myself.

Everything will happen at the right time.

18 ‘Perhaps God wants us to know that we are like animals’, I thought. 19 Like animals, we live and then we die. We really are the same as animals. So our life means nothing for us or for them. 20 People and animals go to the same place. God made animals and people from the same dry material on the ground. And when they die, they both become dry material on the ground again. 21 We need to know what happens after our death. We think that the spirit of a man goes up. And we think that the spirit of an animal goes down towards the ground. But nobody really knows. 22 So we should enjoy our work. That is the best thing that we can do. That is what God wants us to do. But we do not know what there is after death.

3:22The Teacher tells us what happens after our death. In verse 20, he repeats what is in Genesis 3:19. When animals and people die, their dead bodies become like the dry material on the ground. So we should enjoy what God has given to us now. God sees all that we do. But the Teacher believes that we have a different ‘spirit’ (verse 21). It is different from an animal's ‘spirit’. The Teacher wrote this book in the Hebrew language (the language that the readers spoke at that time). The Hebrew word for ‘spirit’ can mean several things. It can mean ‘breath’. (Breath is the air that goes into the nose. And then it goes out of it.) Or it can mean ‘spirit’. It can also mean ‘our thoughts’. The Teacher says more about this in 12:7.