In Season or Out of Season?
NCW 70, February - April 2001
Q. I have a friend who says he knows that he is called to be a part of this work but will not be baptised yet because he says he doesn't feel it is the right "season". His excuse is Ecclesiastes 3. What should I say to him?
A. Baptism is enjoined on all those who believe and is not only a public witness but also an act of faith. If God calls you to do something, He does not expect you to delay unless He specifically gives you a time frame. When Yah'shua (Jesus) travelled around the Holy Land calling people to repentance He did not say: "Repent when the season is right for you, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand", did He?
If the season is wrong for something, Yahweh will say so. One example is when the disciples were told to wait in Jerusalem where they would be anointed. However, this was an instance where Yahweh did the action, not the people - it was not strictly-speaking their choice.
When Yahweh called Abraham to leave his homeland and head for the Promised Land, He expected an immediate response. And you will find that whenever Yahweh commands, the response is expected to be now.
The passage in Ecclesiastes concerns only those things which are themselves seasonal by their very nature. Things like birth and death are not a matter of choice (Eccl.3:2). You don't laugh and weep all the time (v.4) Verse 1 tells us that there is a time and a season for every activity.
But there are clearly things which do not fall within this umbrella. Take the issue of salvation. Yah'shua said that "today is the day of salvation". Salvation is not seasonal. The call to repent is every day no matter what a person may feel. Tomorrow may be too late.
Baptism is a part of the calling of today for someone who knows they have been called. Delaying may be fatal. Indeed, I have seen time and time again the fatal consequences of postponing what Yahweh has commanded for today.
The "it's not the right season for me" answer is born out of doubt and faithlessness. When Yah'shua (Jesus) told the lame man to pick up his bed and go home, He meant do it now. When He commanded people to repent, He meant now. Salvation is now and since baptism is enjoined upon profession of faith, baptism is now. Other things, like Priesthood calling, may rightly be said not to be a "now" command unless the person is (a) called, (b) willing and (c) ready. Nevertheless, if the Lord says now is the time to be ordained, then now is the time, not some mythical 'season' concocted by the spirit of doubt, laziness or fear.
I knew of a woman whom the Lord told to marry a certain man. He was more than willing. But she kept delaying because she felt that it wasn't the right time. She felt that year after year until it was too late. She didn't feel ready. The problem with human beings is that we are almost never 'ready' for the things Yahweh calls us to do because the issue isn't in any case our own ability but our yieldedness to Christ. I do not consider myself to have been remotely 'ready' for any of my callings and had I made decisions based on my feelings or perceived ability to carry out the tasks, they would never have been done. I probably wouldn't be writing this now. The point is that I obeyed and simply trusted that Christ would empower me to do what I knew I could not do in my own strength.
Almost every major decision in life demands a faith-response. In some respects I think Ecclesiastes is an unhelpful book for believers. It was written by Solomon at a time when he was very melancholic and depressed. It is the record of a man who made many foolish mistakes in his life. In the past I have often gone to that book when I have felt down and used it as a justification for my melancholia. I've noticed how popular it is with some unbelievers, especially at funerals. And yet, inspite of its gloomy and nilhist content, the writer comes to his senses at the end and confesses that the most important thing is to keep the commandments. His conclusion is, in a way, a repudiation of his earlier 'seasonal' teaching which is viewed through fleshy eyes. I would not therefore derive much of spiritual import from a eulogy to apparent meaninglessness in life. Were it not for his conclusion, I doubt the book would serve much canonical use. It is certainly open to abuse of all kinds. And I can well see a lazy person using it as an excuse not to work because of the futileness of physical labour.
Be very careful how you use the Book of Ecclesiastes. Together with the Song of Songs, which is a euology to youthful passion, if taken out of context, can lead to all kinds of serious spiritual abuses. It is a book written by an old man - moreover, by a man who fell into deep apostacy by marrying women outside the covenant and by worshipping at their pagan altars. We do not know what spiritual condition Solomon was in when he died - if Ecclesiastes was a kind of deathbed confession, then its content makes sense. In the end, what matters is whether we have been faithful and obedient, or not (Eccl.12:9-14).
If Yahweh has commanded your friend to be baptised, then the best advice I can give is to tell him to do what Yahweh has said - immediately. The Scriptures simply leave no room for procrastination but give plenty of dire warnings of the consequences for not obeying Yahweh.
This page was created on 20 March 2001
Last updated on 20 March 2001
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