2000-08-07 - Youth, Death, Comfort & Fear
Ecclesiastes 12:1-2, 13-14 "Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, I have no delight in them; before the sun, the light, the moon, and the stars are darkened, and clouds return after the rain...The conclusion, when all has been heard is; fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil."
I was reminded of these verses recently and I thought I would like to comment a little on them. I would like to break these verses into two parts here the first verses 1 and 2, and the second 13 and 14.
In the first part I notice that God directs us to remember God in our youth. Now not all of us are young. But we are all younger than we will be in a few hours. This admonition, then, is to all of us--Remember God.
As we get older life itself becomes more difficult physically. It is harder and harder to make up for hours that were miss-spent. Besides the physical ailments that occur, there are the mental difficulties, when the mind begins to lose its sharpness, and its clarity. Therefore, now is the time to amend our lives, while we are this young. It is not a matter here of how young we are, but simply that we are THIS young now.
The implication, in these first two verses, is that the end of our lives are, "evil days," that will not be a delight to us. It a hard thing to think about. But we exist and live in bodies that are dying. As they go through this process, we go through this process also. The Puritans would always write and talk about dying well. It was their thought that living well, was really a mindset that was prepared to meet God and therefore die well. I am convinced they were on to something we are missing this from much of our current Christian tradition and thought.
In the last two verses of this book we have a marvelous summary. It tells us what the whole book is about. In fact, if you are thinking about reading the book of Ecclesiastes, start with the end. These two verses tell us the way to everlasting happiness. Fear God, and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.
What is interesting about these two verses is that the way to happiness is not by worldliness, or worldly comforts. The way to happiness, which is what the writer of Ecclesiastes has set to find out, is fearing God and keeping His rules. It is not 2.2 cars, 2.7 kids, and a summer home. We often lose this mindset. And yet here it is, in God's word.
Lastly a word about fearing God. Many people will use the fear of God as a manipulation to force someone to give money, or behave a certain way. I think we should look at this phrase as the great principle of obedience. It is a word of caution to us. Philippians 2:12, reminds us, "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling."
We meet in this world with many temptations. We are baited by the world like fish. Our flesh is prone to take the bait. Our flesh seeks to be satisfied and pleased. But our flesh is prone to betray us and entice us to corruption. It is when we are under this assault from the world that we are to fear God. We are to have a holy fear, that fears to offend our Lord. We are to have a fear that leads us to righteousness. This is the fear we are to have: one that leads us to obedience and righteousness. May the Lord lead us to fear Him in this holy way.
"It is a blessed fear which drives us to trust." C. H. Spurgeon
Soli Deo Gloria,