Summary: In today's lesson we are urged to demonstrate our fear of God by keeping his commandments.
Today we come to our last lesson in the book of Ecclesiastes. In his quest to find out how to live a meaningful life the writer of Ecclesiastes urges his readers to demonstrate their fear of God by keeping his commandments.
Let us read Ecclesiastes 12:9-14:
9 Besides being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs with great care. 10 The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth.
11 The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. 12 My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:9–14)
Bob Morey has an apologetics ministry in southern California. He was asked by an atheist to prove the Bible’s truthfulness.
Bob responded, “You prove the Bible’s truthfulness to me every time you speak.”
Shocked, she asked how this could be true.
He asked her, “Do you fear God?”
“No,” she said.
“Well,” he said, “you just proved that Romans 3:18 is true: ‘There is no fear of God before their eyes.’”
Then he asked, “Is the gospel foolishness to you?”
He explained, “Well, you just proved 1 Corinthians 1:18: ‘The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.’”
He continued, “Do you want to live your own way instead of living according to God’s way?”
She snapped, “I don’t want God’s way—I’ll do as I please!”
He responded, “Well, you just proved Isaiah 53:6: ‘Each of us has turned to his own way.’ Every time you speak you confirm the Bible by saying what it said you would say.”
Atheists do not want to obey the teaching of the Bible, although even their unbelief confirms the truth of the Bible!
However, sometimes believers do not obey God’s commandments. They call themselves “believers” and “followers of God,” but they do not obey his commandments.
The Old Testament people of God certainly failed in that respect. For example, at Mount Sinai they heard God’s law, “You shall not make for yourself a carved image. . . . You shall not bow down to them” (Exodus 20:4-5). A few weeks later, while still at Mount Sinai, the people of God made a golden calf and worshipped it (Exodus 32:8). And throughout its history Israel continually disobeyed God and turned to worship other gods.
Ecclesiastes was written at a pivotal time in Israel’s history. Israel was at the crossroads of a booming international trade. Fortunes could be made—and lost—overnight. People focused on making money and storing up wealth. The temptation to forget the God who had saved them from misery in Egypt and who had preserved them through the ages was great. They continually forgot God and his commandments.
Before we get into our final lesson in the book of Ecclesiastes, let us briefly review the message of Ecclesiastes.
The Preacher opened the book of Ecclesiastes with an introduction of himself (1:1), a statement of his theme (1:2), and a poetic summary of his theme (1:3-11).
His theme is simple: all is vanity.
The Hebrew word for vanity means “vapor” or “breath.” It refers to that which is meaningless, futile, ephemeral, and passing.
So the Preacher’s theme is that everything in life is meaningless. However, the Preacher does give a corrective. He says that everything in life is meaningless apart from God. His ultimate purpose is to show that we can live a meaningful life only when we live it in a right relationship to God. If we don’t live our lives in a right relationship to God, then indeed everything in life is meaningless. But, if we do live our lives in a right relationship to God, then everything in life is meaningful.
After an opening statement of his theme (1:3-11), the Preacher explored several areas of life to demonstrate that all is vanity (1:12-6:12). Then, to help us know how to live for God in this world, the Preacher showed the difference between wisdom and folly (7:1-11:10). He ended, appropriately enough, by talking about death and dying (12:1-7), before restating his overall theme again that all is vanity (12:8).
In the final section in Ecclesiastes (12:9-14), the writer of Ecclesiastes, known as Qoheleth or the Preacher, now states emphatically how we are to live our lives. He urges his readers to demonstrate their fear of God by keeping his commandments.