For Signs and Seasons

It’s peculiar what can trigger our memories: sights, smells, a song, etc. In my particular case, trimming an overgrown inbox recently brought to mind fond memories, going back years ago.

We all reminisce on life’s experiences at times: enjoyable occasions, exciting moments of success and achievements, friends whom we’ve loved. There were periods of life when the good times seem to fly by. There were times when we never thought we’d make it out of a trial. These are what some call the “seasons of life,” famously written about in Ecclesiastes 3:1–8. The nostalgia and occasional sadness from going down “memory lane” is exaggerated when we are removed from a “season of life” we can never relive, such as childhood. It can be painful when we are removed from friends and family by the sting of death. Being human is a contrasting ebb and flow of sorrow and joy, and everything in between.

In Ecclesiastes 3, the Preacher of Israel states that everything is “beautiful in its time” (v. 11). The fabric of time and experiences we call life can seem very beautiful when recalling the “good times.” God—who inhabits eternity and is not bound by times and seasons—gave times and seasons for us to enjoy. With the physical creation comes the byproduct of times and the various seasons. In setting the earth and other astral bodies in their places, God said they were to be “for signs and seasons, and for days and years” (Genesis 1:14). Yet the Preacher also acknowledges that, while it is a gift to recall the past, God has put eternity in the hearts of human beings (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Knowing where we come from and what we have experienced is not the answer to reconnecting with loved ones, nor is it the answer to where we are ultimately going.

True Meaning

The answer to the desire to reconnect with loved ones and find meaning in life’s past “seasons” is part of what the Preacher alludes to as a mystery in the latter half of Ecclesiastes 3:11: “no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.” The mystery of making sense of past, present and future is summed up in what God calls His “feasts” (Leviticus 23:1–2).

God has outlined His great plan for mankind from beginning to end through these observances. They revolve around three agricultural “seasons” made possible by the physical creation referred to in Genesis 1:14. God’s Holy Days are beautiful in their time, both in the annual festival celebrations God’s people enjoy, and especially in what they represent. The “Spring” festival season focuses on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and redemption and deliverance. Pentecost focuses on the Church and holiness. The “Fall” festival season focuses on a time when the entire world will be reconciled to God and lost loved ones will even be reconnected with through resurrection. The Holy Days are a mystery to the world, yet paradoxically they offer the world hope in some of the most joyous occasions yet to come. Thank God He has given us both the “seasons of life” to enjoy, as well as His festival seasons, which point to our greatest hope.

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