Introduction and Recap
The speaker remembers his time working in the yard of his friend’s father, who was a missionary in Russia. He recalls the reward that he got after a day’s work, and how it caused him to feel satisfied and appreciative of the payment he received. The speaker translates this into the reading Ecclesiastes within a month and understanding how Solomon wrote this book, and how as they enter into the final chapters, it is as though they are rewarded at the end of a hard day’s work.
As we recall, the main argument of Ecclesiastes was King Solomon’s debate on life, and the main topic of the book was primarily focused on the vanity of life (Ecclesiastes 1:2 – Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.) This is clearly mentioned over the course of the 12 chapters.
The book focused on how Solomon observed life as what it was through different perspectives – a life of pleasure, wisdom, toil, injustice, wealth, and how death would impact every one of us in the end. Solomon ended each perspective with a funneled argument, highlighting several points:
- That we should enjoy what we have been given by God, and that life with God entails enjoyment
- Although we may not know what God is planning for us, through that mystery, we enjoy what He has already given unto us
- Consider the Sovereignty of God – although life may be puzzling, where injustice prevails and the righteous suffer, we may not be in control of such circumstances, however, we know that God is in full control, and He has complete knowledge of what will happen and that if we reject this, it will result in vanity
Chapter 12 focuses on the topic of fearing God. Solomon was talking about growing old and used visuals that represented the human body (verses 1-8). He illustrates what it feels like to be old and feeble. Solomon reminds the readers first and foremost, to remember God in the days of their youth (Ecclesiastes 12:1). Life is inevitably short, and old age comes ever so quickly.
Thought – The irony of retirement surrounds the fact of retiring to enjoy life, but how can we enjoy all these things when we lack the strength and motivation to do so when we are old?
We are not to reminisce about God, but rather to remember Him actively, and that causes us to do something about it – to do our QT, attend worship services and fellowship meetings, live a Christ-like example.
You cannot enjoy life until you serve God, and that there is no fulfillment in pursuing earthly pleasures that only signify earthly enjoyment because once you attain it, it is gone. But there is an eternal and everlasting enjoyment, and that is only through the fear of God, where true enjoyment is found.
The conclusion of the matter is seen in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14.
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
The conclusion of Ecclesiastes is seen in verse 13, and that is to fear God and to keep His commandments, which is the whole duty of man. We see repeated verses that Solomon speaks of the fear of the Lord (Chapters 3,5,8). This is essentially the key to life itself!
What does it mean to fear God? It has a common negative connotation, but for Christians, it should be our assurance and confidence in our God! But let us be wary, not to get caught up in the love of God and to neglect and forget how great and how mighty He is. Worship is not just about singing love songs to God, but it is having an attitude of fear – where we respect and fear God to the utmost. We as Christians ought to revere God because only He is worthy of all power and authority! Only after we have that attitude of fear toward God, then shall obedience follow (Deuteronomy 10:12-13). We recall the plagues of Egypt that signified the power and the hand of God upon mere men, and that a God who is feared must be a God that we obey (ref. even creation obeys God – Genesis 1).
Thought – If we fear God, there is nothing in this world that we should be afraid of, because only God is the greatest.
We ought to have the fear of God as our lens that we see life through, and it will transform our entire perspective of life as it is. The motivation that should drive us to fear God is the judgment that comes in the end (Ecclesiastes 12:14). Death is the ultimate vanity, as it puts everything that holds meaning to an end. The fear of God should give us purpose in our lives, yet we are still consumed and distracted by finding purpose in temporal things (wealth, power, status, education).
Thought – Are we finding fulfillment and gratification in what we physically buy or own? Are we following the world in pursuing the same things for the same reasons? Recall that in the end, vanity of vanities, all is vanity.
We ought to take on a different perspective than the world, and that is only because of God’s grace unto us. Through the fear of God, we learn to put our complete trust in Him, as God is in control of all circumstances, whether it be good or bad.
The speaker recalls a Puritan prayer that says:
If it be consistent with thy eternal counsels,
The purpose of thy grace,
And the great ends of thy glory,
Then bestow upon me the blessings of
If not, let me resign myself to
Thy wiser determinations.
There are two frames of mind in every Christian – a sacred mind that is used with spiritual tasks such as worship, communion, evangelising, and a circular mind that is used in culturally oriented tasks, such as our work, school, and hobbies. Dualism (where both states of mind do not coexist together and are separated) is constantly seen in the lives of many Christians. Thus, we ought to place the fear of God in the center of our life, be it in our service or in our daily vocations. It is a matter of spiritual conscience when we choose to follow God, between our hearts and God alone. Let us be assured that the only anchor, meaning, and purpose in life, is having the fear of God.
Final thought – Are our minds constantly separated when it comes to serving God and going about our daily duties? Do we often forget who God is? Are we truly fearing the Almighty and All-Powerful God? Remember that in Him, we can find true enjoyment and happiness, because it is only Him that bestows it to us.