“I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happens to them all.” Ecc 9:11
There is something very significant in this verse which is lost to the modern, Greek oriented mind. It is the concept and meaning of time. What Solomon meant and what we understand may not be intersecting. In order for us to begin to understand what Solomon meant, we have to understand how he used that word and how it would have been understood at that time.
I have found no less than four Hebrew words translated into English as “time”. We use that “time” word differently “time” and “time” again, as in, What “time” is it? Or, It’s about that “time” again. Or, This is the third “time” I’ve told you. Or, Do you think we will arrive on “time”? We mean different things but use the same word, hoping that the context will explain what we really mean.
The Hebrew word Solomon used here is “eth”. The same word he used in Ecclesiastes 3, when he uses that word 28 times (7 X 4) in his famous discourse… “To every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven.” To me his usage suggests a play on the fact that there are four seasons and by showing seven (God’s divine number) sets of four, he is showing that there are patterns of seasons in God that mimic natural seasons like springtime and fall. They may not come on June 21, but they do come with some predictability.
When the tide comes in and out, it is according to the “eth” and we can predict the rise and fall of the tide. When a woman is about ready to give birth, it is according to the “eth” and we can predict within reasonable accuracy the time for her to give birth. The “eth” is not tied to a clock. It is tied to something more mysterious yet still predictable. Predictable that is, if you know how to discern or understand the times (the “eth”)
Remember what they said about the sons of Issachar? Scripture says that they had understanding of the times (“eth”) and because they understood the “eth”, they knew what to do. The word “eth” is translated often as “seasons”. Solomon is teaching us that everything has its “eth”, its “season”, its proper time, including good and bad. The sons of Issachar were able to discern or understand what “eth” it was and could therefore make wise decisions. They had a way of knowing whether it was a time to pluck or a time to plant, a time to get or a time to lose, etc.
We have lost that ability, but Christ has restored it to us. The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead, dwells in us and we now have the mind of Christ. We can discover the “eth” that we are in and know what to do. Solomon is telling us that the “eth’s” of life come to ALL OF US and those “eth” events are game changers. Our problem is that we don’t recognize the “eth” we are in and we therefore miss our opportunity.
It is sort of like being a farmer, when the last frost has lifted in the Spring and it’s time to plant, but we don’t recognize that it is Spring. We just think it is a pretty day. Come autumn when others are harvesting, we think they were pretty clever to plant crops so we try to do what they did and our seed dies in the ground because we missed the season. Knowing the time (“eth”) can significantly impact your bottom line.
I will continue to develop this line of thought for you if you all find this of value. Otherwise, I will study it for my own benefit because I know it is a game changer and will make a huge difference in my life. Let me know my dear brothers and sisters. Your faithful servant, Michael