We have come to the end of Solomon’s “a time to” statements in Ecclesiastes 3. As we look at verse 8 today, we will deal with strong emotions, societal interaction, and our relationship with God.
A Time To Love, And A Time To Hate
In any language, love and hate are doubtless the two most intense emotions which man can have. The Hebrew word here for love is ‘ahab. It can be used of brotherly affection we might have for one another (Leviticus 19:18, 34) or of the more intimate relationship shared between lovers (Song of Solomon 3:4). The word can refer to our yearning for things such as food, drink, sleep or wisdom (Genesis 27:4). It is also used of man’s love for God (Deuteronomy 6:5).
The apostle Paul personifies love (Gr. agape) for us in his first letter to the Corinthians:
Love suffers long as is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
John, helping us to understand the character of God, stated, “God is love” (1 John 4:16). If we are to be faithful children of God, then we too must manifest love in our actions and words. John bluntly said, “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8).
But if we are to be people of love, how can there be “a time to hate”? Hatred can arise in family settings (Genesis 29:31; 37:4-5), though it ought to have no place there. Jesus does use the word hate (Gr. Miseo) in regard to our families (Luke 14:26), but we would do well to understand how this is meant. The Lord’s command is not for us to bear hatred to our father, mother, wife, children, brothers and sisters (and our own life), but to love Him more (Matthew 10:37). Indeed, we are commanded elsewhere in Scripture to honour our father and mother (Ephesians 6:2), and to love wife and children (Ephesians 5:25; 6:4).
But there are certain things that we, like the Lord should hate: idolatry (Deuteronomy 16:22), workers of iniquity (Psalm 5:5; 26:5; 45:7), evil (Psalm 97:10), and every false way (Psalm 119:104). Anything which is contrary to the will of God, which is opposed to righteousness and justice, we ought to hate, even as the Lord does.
A Time Of War, And A Time Of Peace
As much as war is undesirable, Solomon admits that there is “a time of war.” In fact, his father spent most of his life engaged in battle, prior to being king, as a servant of Saul, and while reigning, that he might take for the Lord’s people their rightful possession land.
The fact that the Bible declares there to be “a time of war” does not automatically justify all wars. Certainly, when Israel were commissioned by God to go to war, one could be assured that it was a just cause, and that the participation of each one should be enlisted. It is not so easy today, as God is not directing nations as He did Israel.
Some take an extreme position, declaring that all man of war is today contrary to the will of God. Certainly the conscientious objector’s position may appear to be a “safe course,” but that does not make it automatically right. Even as there were just causes in by-gone years, there are just causes today for which nations should stand.
Governing authorities are an institution of God (Romans 13:1-7). That certainly does not validate every action of the government, but it does tell us that their authority is derived from heaven, not specifically, but generically. Does a government have the right to defend the citizens of their nation? Does a government have the right to intervene in the oppressive and murderous activities of another nation? If there is “a time of war,” there must be circumstances wherein war is warranted.
More enjoyable to discuss, and certainly more pleasurable to live in, is the “time of peace.” The wise writer enjoyed a time of peace following the warfare undertaken by his father. Those who possess peace are often benefactors of the hardships endured by those who have gone on before.
If the only peace we have in this life is on a national scale, then we have missed the greater peace. The Lord desires to give “…glory honor and peace to everyone who works what is good…” (Romans 2:10). If we have “…been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). To be “…spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:6). Though we go through difficulties, if we faithfully serve the Lord, “…the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). Jesus, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) can give us peace with God, and a home with God through eternity.
God is love. Therefore, let us desire to develop a character of love, that we might be like our Father in heaven. There are things which God hates, and we would do well to hate these same things, for His judgment is perfectly right. Though war and peace may come and go among the nations, may we always seek to be at peace with our God and with His people.