Ecclesiastes • Sermon • Submitted
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The conclusion of the book are finally brought to a head with the more famous portion of Ecclesiastes, chapter 12.
The whole point of this book as been how pointless life is without God, and without enjoying Him as the supreme good of your life.
The whole point of Chapter 12 is the whole point of the book of Ecclesiastes.
Ecclesiastes is the argument for the existence of God, the argument for being in relationship with God, and the argument for enjoying God through life and eternity.
There’s three closing instructions that Solomon gives. Really, there’s two closing commands and then the final conclusion. So once you have read through the book of Ecclesiastes, then there’s two things you need to do and thing you need to understand.
The point of our passage is kind of interesting. In a round about way, Solomon is trying to flash your life before your eyes.
In doing so, he’s setting us up to really considering, what is the summary of my life going to be?
So that’s the question that we should ask that forms the entire point of our passage, how will you summarize your life?
Start by Remember God
Start by Remember God
(ESV) — 1 Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; 2 before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain, 3 in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those who look through the windows are dimmed, 4 and the doors on the street are shut—when the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low— 5 they are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails, because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets— 6 before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern, 7 and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. 8 Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity.
1 Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”;
2 before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain,
3 in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those who look through the windows are dimmed,
4 and the doors on the street are shut—when the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low—
5 they are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails, because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets—
6 before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern,
7 and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
8 Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity.
Why is it that Solomon commands us to Remember our Creator? Even more interesting is that Solomon commands us to do it in the days of our Youth?
Is there some kind of advantage that we would have if while we’re youthful we remember God? And remember Him especially as our Creator?
Does this mean that those who are older have a disadvantage? Well notice Solomon’s point. Remember your creator in the days of your youth before the evil days come and you say, “I have no pleasure in them”.
It’s incredible that Solomon equates evil with lack of pleasure. That’s the whole point of verses 1-8. Days come after youth when the days lack pleasure and are full of evil.
Now obviously evil can happen in the days of youth, but there’s so much that is missing in the days of youth that allow for pleasure. Whether sinfully or not.
And if you keep in mind the point of the book how all life is pointless outside of living life with God, then you can imagine that the argument is really, start living with God now.
Because then you have an entire life ahead of you to enjoy with Him, rather than having an entire life behind you, that is wasted.
It’s not that it’s pointless for older people to convert, they can still enjoy God through life, and enter into His presence with absolute joy. But the argument goes like this:
1). If life with God is the greatest good you could ever experience
2). Then you should experience the most of life with God
2). Living with God is way better
3). Therefore, start living life now with God.
2). If life with God is the g
But going back to the beginning of our point, remember, Solomon said to remember your Creator. And we asked, “Why does Solomon say remember?”
3). Therefore, start now when you
Why doesn’t he say, “think about your Creator?” Why doesn’t he say, “Meditate on your Creator?”
Probably because as Youth there is a danger of forgetting God because you’re distracted by other things that are in your life.
And you might think, “How could someone forget God?” The way you do that is by distracting yourself with things that you think are more important or enjoyable than He is.
So you start by remembering God. Making a conscious effort to remember God. It’s the difference between going to the Scripture to read about God and going to the Scripture and then making flash cards to remind yourself of who God is.
Like studying for a test. It does absolutely no good to read for your test once and then think you’re good to go.
Trust me. I know.
But think about the amount of time spent learning about schoolwork. The amount of time spent learning how to be better at sports, cooking, building things, etc.
Isn’t it amazing at how much time and effort we spend learning things so that we can remember things and that the process of doing that for things like school or work is way more impressive than what we’re doing to learn about God?
With flash cards, that’s how we can learn vocabulary, or terms, etc. Like, what memory device have we put into place to remember God? And Solomon doesn’t just say remember things about God, but remember God?
(ESV) — 19 You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 20 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth. 22 For if you will be careful to do all this commandment that I command you to do, loving the Lord your God, walking in all his ways, and holding fast to him.
The amount of effort and the work put into to remembering God is probably insufficient right now in all of our lives. Solomon says, Remember God.
He also puts a kind of urgency on it. The evil days are coming and then eventually man will go to his eternal home.
In fact, there’s almost even an sense of end times here. There’s a lot of stuff that’s going to come to end totally and finally. But in the meantime, you’re also coming to an end.
So remember your Creator now. Because there is such a thing as too late. And everything could be vanity for you. You wasted your life. Or, even if everything is vain, your spirit is going to God.
So that’s the command, remember your Creator. So once you have it firmly fixed in your mind, the need to remember your Creator, what happens next?
Stay Inside the Lines
Stay Inside the Lines
(ESV) — 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.
Now we definitely need to address the issue of verse 9 being in the third person. This has led tons of people to think that the book of Ecclesiastes is so depressing
That an anonymous author had to add this postscript to it much later to make it a better book. Which is weird because if that’s true, the second author praises Solomon.
And he says that the the Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth. Upright meaning righteous. Words of truth, meaning correct.
So why would someone seek to correct Solomon’s gloominess by saying that everything Solomon wrote are words of delight and truth that Solomon was totally righteous in?
Doesn’t make much sense.
So really, here several possibilities:
1). Either it is a secondary author who added to it, but was a contemporary to Solomon who so greatly appreciated his work that he desired to praise Solomon’s wisdom and add his seal of approval.
2). Or Solomon wrote a ton of proverbs that this guy collected into a single volume that he couldn’t help but be overwhelmed with and added, really, nothing more than verse 11.
3). Or Solomon is speaking in the 3rd person.
4). Some commentators believed that Solomon wrote “Qoheleth” as a fictitious character and then speaks about that character in the third person here. And this was intended to exemplify what an Ecclesiastes is supposed to do.
I personally think it’s a combination of 3 and 4. That the Preacher is still Solomon and he’s speaking in the third person to demonstrate that more Preachers can rise up and that he’s modeling what Preachers should do.
The objection is the fact that Solomon comes across as proud. But there’s an important consideration that I think would eliminate that.
The fact that this book is anonymous. I think there’s enough evidence to prove that it was Solomon, but many Godly Christians don’t even think it was.
So if you write a book, anonymously, in the third person, and refer to yourself as wise, and countless individuals doubt you even wrote it, how is it prideful to call yourself wise and state that you taught knowledge and wrote many proverbs?
(ESV) — 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.
But Paul follows up his statement with, yet not I but the Lord. But didn’t Solomon do that too?
(ESV) — 9 Besides being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs with great care.
(ESV) — 11 The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd.
1 Corinthians 15:11 (ESV) — 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
So who gave him the wise words and his wisdom? One Shepherd.
Moses spoke in the third person, in fact he wrote Exodus and wrote how God said that moses would be God to Pharaoh. Jesus also spoke tons of times in the third person about many great things that He was going to do.
So with that in mind, what does Solomon say in verse 11?
Goads are an interesting thing. They’re sharp sticks that prevent cattle from straying from where their supposed to be.
So the words of the wise are like sharp sticks that keep you on the path. So what happens when you don’t surround yourself with sharp sticks? You wander.
Is it any wonder than anyone wanders without wisdom?
This is why wisdom is an advantage in life. It keeps you on the right path. But isn’t it interesting to think about wise words being like sharp sticks?
(ESV) — 14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’
What Paul was doing was clearly unwise. He was straying into serious error, persecuting Jesus Christ himself.
And Jesus points outs Paul’s problem using Solomon’s analogy, that no doubt Paul was familiar with.
The idea is that wise words are so helpful to leading you along life’s path in enjoyment of God, not wasting life in vain things, that the moment you begin to stray, it’s stings. It’s immediately noticeable to those who have wise sayings around their life that something is wrong.
Be Satisfied or Be Scared
Be Satisfied or Be Scared
(ESV) — 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.
So Solomon concludes all of his arguments in favor of living with God for enjoyment with verse 13. The end of the matter, with everything having been heard, here’s the point:
Fear God, keep his commandments, and in a rather catechismy way, tells us the purpose of man.
The LXX states, “for this is the complete man” or “this is the whole of man”, “this is the entirety of man.” For this is the “all man”.
Why do I exist? To fear God and obey His commandments. But keep in mind the point of the whole book. That’s how you have joy!
It’s fascinating because it shows that man’s point is to fear God and obey His commands, and enjoy Him in so doing. So when man lives outside of his purpose then everything is vanity.
There’s two things that verses 13 and 14 communicate:
1). What we’ve just been talking about. You’re point, the point of your life which is the same as all lives, is to fear God and obey Him.
2). There’s another motivation other than the fact that living in your intended purpose is how you live life without pointlessness and with satisfaction, is that everything will be brought into judgment.
Gasp. That dirty word. Judgment. But first think about it. Solomon has told you not only how to avoid judgment, but how to have a life that is more enjoyable than the life on it’s way to judgment.
It’s insane to think about the fact that there is a judgment that is coming. But it’s even crazier to think that all of us deserve that judgment, but there’s a way to avoid that judgment, and the life that avoids that judgment, also avoids the pointless living of the life that is going to be judged!
I avoid judgment and I avoid vanity. I arrive at judgment and everything that I did was evil, pleasureless, pointless.
Now this judgment doesn’t just reveal evil deeds it also reveals good deeds.
Which is great, because we recognize that there are good things that we have done that seem to go unnoticed.
Our parents don’t recognize them. Our teachers might not, our bosses might not. So why do good things?
Because God is keeping track of them. See, if you focus on the fact that your life is going to be summarized by your relationship with God and enjoyment of Him, your only focus is on God knowing your good deeds.
That’s who matters the most to you and that’s whose opinion of your good deeds matters more.
But there’s also the flip side. Every time I do something sinful behind closed doors is something that God also takes notice of.
We can try to wipe away browser histories on all of our secretive sinful activities, but there is no erasing God’s ledger.
Except with Jesus Christ. The path to not having my sinful deeds count against me is through Christ’s atoning sacrifice.
But you can see that Solomon isn’t contradicting that. Receiving Christ’s atoning sacrificing is demonstrated through fearing God and obeying Him.
(ESV) — 3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.