Read Ecclesiastes 12
12 Remember your Creator
in the days of your youth,
before the days of trouble come
and the years approach when you will say,
“I find no pleasure in them”—
2 before the sun and the light
and the moon and the stars grow dark,
and the clouds return after the rain;
3 when the keepers of the house tremble,
and the strong men stoop,
when the grinders cease because they are few,
and those looking through the windows grow dim;
4 when the doors to the street are closed
and the sound of grinding fades;
when people rise up at the sound of birds,
but all their songs grow faint;
5 when people are afraid of heights
and of dangers in the streets;
when the almond tree blossoms
and the grasshopper drags itself along
and desire no longer is stirred.
Then people go to their eternal home
and mourners go about the streets.
6 Remember him—before the silver cord is severed,
and the golden bowl is broken;
before the pitcher is shattered at the spring,
and the wheel broken at the well,
7 and the dust returns to the ground it came from,
and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
8 “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher.
“Everything is meaningless!”
The Conclusion of the Matter
9 Not only was the Teacher wise, but he also imparted knowledge to the people. He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs. 10 The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true.
11 The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one shepherd. 12 Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them.
Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.
13 Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.
14 For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil.
At some point we all feel or, at least, hear that life goes by fast. It seems like the older we get, the faster life speeds up. When we were growing up, it felt like Christmas was forever away. But as the years go by, it seems like Christmas is always around the corner! Before we know it, the days, months, and years pass by and much of our life will be behind us. Solomon wants us to realize the speed of life. This perspective helps us make each day’s decisions for how we want our life to go tomorrow. Otherwise, he warns we’ll get so caught up in the pursuit of wealth, pleasure or fame that we will forget God in the process. Twice in this chapter he calls for us to remember our Creator, specifically in the days of our youth. In other words, Solomon is saying to remember God now so we do not get distracted. We can be so busy working and saving and spending that we forget to remember the Creator of it all.
While much of Ecclesiastes explains what doesn’t matter in life, the book finishes by telling us what does. “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil” (v. 13-14). In other words, remember, everything we do really does matter to God! Every single thing. Public things matter. Private things matter. They are all seen by God and will be brought into judgement.
Even though we think the good life can be found in money, sex, and power, Solomon has proven otherwise. His search for the good in life has ended. The conclusion? Following God is what we’re made to do. We are called to fear God and keep his commandments. God’s commandments will lead us to an abundant life and will give us what the world cannot offer. Before life passes by, take time to sit back and consider what God is teaching us in Ecclesiastes about what we are made to do.
- What do you think it means to “remember your Creator”?
- Why are verses 13 and 14 such an important close for the book of Ecclesiastes?
- What changes do you want to make in your life after reading Ecclesiastes?
Did You Know?
The NIV translates verse 13 as “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.” That word “duty” is perhaps better translated as “all” or “purpose.” In essence, the purpose of mankind is to fear God and keep his commandments.
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