God’s Beautiful Timing (from Philip Ryken)

Brian Sullivan   -  

Some people resent God’s control over time and eternity; they would rather set their own agenda. But the Solomon (or writer) of Ecclesiastes could see the beauty of God’s sovereignty. Not only is there a time for everything, but God always does things at just the right time. Therefore, the Preacher praised God for his beautiful timing.

In the Old Testament, “beautiful” is first of all a visual term; ordinarily it refers to something that we can see. For example, the word is used to describe Job’s daughters as the best-looking women in the country (Job 42: 15). In time, however, the word took on a wider range of meaning, just like the word beautiful in English. Something beautiful is something good; it is right, pleasing, and appropriate. It is in this sense that God can be said to have beautiful timing. At whatever time he does things, God is always right on time. He knows when it is time for breaking down and building up, for keeping and casting away, for war and for peace.

When the Preacher says that God “has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11), he is not just talking about the way that God made the world in the first place, but about the way that he has ruled it ever since. The seasons of nature and the patterns of human activity are under his sovereign superintendence and providential care. From beginning to end, God does everything decently and in order. Derek Kidner thus speaks of “the kaleidoscopic movement of innumerable processes, each with its own character and its period of blossoming and ripening, beautiful in its time and contributing to the over-all masterpiece which is the work of one Creator.”

-Philip Ryken, Ecclesiastes (Preaching the Word Series)