“As I was walking down the street one day
A man came up to me and asked me what the time was that was on my watch, yeah
And I said
“Does anybody really know what time it is
Does anybody really care
If so I can’t imagine why
We’ve all got time enough to cry/die
“And I was walking down the street one day
A pretty lady looked at me and said her diamond watch had stopped cold dead
And I said [Chorus]
“And I was walking down the street one day
Being pushed and shoved by people trying to beat the clock, oh no, I just don’t know
I don’t know, I don’t know
And I said, yes I said [Chorus]
“I don’t care about time . . . oh no . . .”
1969–43 years ago, yet when I listen to that song it seems almost like yesterday during my time in high school when Chicago recorded it on their debut album. However, the question in the title is just as relevant today, 43 years later. Of course, those of us who were alive back then are all much older now. However, as Ivan Simanov (Brian Cox) says in the movie, “RED,” (2010) “Time passes . . . . Blink of an eye.” How true.
So . . . does anybody really know what time it is? That question finds an answer in Ecclesiastes 3:1-14 (NIV):
1 “There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
9 What does the worker gain from his toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on men. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. 13 That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him.”
I think all of us can find ourselves at the present time somewhere in that list. For the past three years I have found myself living in the midst of verses 6-7: “a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak.” The Message Bible states those same two verses like this: “A right time to search and another to count your losses, a right time to hold on and another to let go, a right time to rip out and another to mend, a right time to shut up and another to speak up.”
Since losing my job in Houston in April 2009, I have searched through my life and counted my losses, I have held on to Jesus while letting go of the past, I have ripped out the frustration and anger that came from all of it and I’m in the process of mending relationships, even with my enemies, and I’ve left behind the silence and found my voice–“a time to speak up.”
Where do you fit in that list? It’s a good list to review periodically. But I also want to point out what King Solomon (the writer of Ecclesiastes) had to say right below the list: “He [God] has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; [emphasis mine] yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. . . . God does it so that men will revere him” (vv. 11, 14).
Eternity . . . a time will come for all of us when time will end, and eternity will begin (see my previous post, “Eternity–It’s Only A Breath Away”). In light of eternity, the Bible points to another answer about the issue of time–time in the present sense as in “now.” The writer of Hebrews admonished his listeners whom he addressed as “brothers” (hence, fellow Christians) to consider the following very carefully:
12 “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. 15As has just been said:
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion” (Heb. 3:12-15).
The rebellion referred to can be found in the preceding verses (Heb. 3:8-11) when the Israelites rebelled in the wilderness during their 40-year journey to the Promised Land back in Exodus (the “I” in the verses refers to God):
8 “Do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion,
during the time of testing in the desert,
9 where your fathers tested and tried me
and for forty years saw what I did.
10 That is why I was angry with that generation,
and I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray,
and they have not known my ways.’
11 So I declared on oath in my anger,
‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ”
And as the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
“We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says:
“In an acceptable time I have heard you,
And in the day of salvation I have helped you.”
Behold, now is the accepted time;
behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:1-2).
We live in a day and time where much that has been given to us as a nation–prosperity, material possessions, the highest standard of living in the entire world–has eaten away at the things we, as Christians, hold dear–the love of Jesus Christ and the peace of God that “passes all understanding” (Phil. 4:7). We’ve replaced His peace with worry and anxiety. We’ve grown lukewarm in our love for Jesus because of the excesses of our society which have replaced Jesus at the center of our lives and all that we do (Rev. 3:14-21).
We also live in an age of great deception where–because we have let down our guard–our adversary can pick us off very easily without us even realizing it. We live in a wilderness just like that Israelites did for 40 years because we have drown out God’s voice and mixed it with all of the others “voices” in our society. Many times we don’t really look or act any differently then the rest of the culture, except we’ve become very proficient in “God talk” but not in God action.
And we need to stop doing that–NOW.
And . . . we need to listen to the admonishing words of the writer of Hebrews before our time runs out:
“Today, if you hear His voice,
do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion.”
You Tube Video: “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” by Chicago (1969):
Photo credit here