Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Ecclesiastes 9-12: The Bottom Line on Life

"Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man" (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

As the Teacher concludes his teaching, he provides us with the foundations of a biblical philosophy of life. First, he tells us that death does indeed pervade our existence. Not only so, but death is the destiny of each one of us.

Second, God is good. Death is not the whole story. God provides times of joy as well as times of sorrow, and because this life is not the last word, we can and should enjoy the good things God gives us as well as mourn the hard things He finds necessary to send our way. “Enjoy life,” says the Teacher, “because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat, drink and be glad” (Ecclesiastes 8:15).

Third, death is not the last word, because after death comes the judgment. Therefore, says the Teacher, in the midst of enjoying life, we must not break God’s law, because God will bring everything into judgment. The young person can and should rejoice in his strength and vigor. We should be happy in our youth, because as we become older we will no longer have the ability to do as much. The body will decay, and our vitality will fade away (12:1–8). The young man should bear this fact in mind, and live accordingly.

Fourth, the wise man should expose himself to the words of sages, because they are like goads that drive him to think seriously about life. The words of sages are also like nails that firmly fix the realities of life in place. These two benefits of godly wisdom arise from the fact that such wisdom comes from the Great Shepherd (12:11).

Finally, as the Teacher has shown repeatedly throughout his treatise, true wisdom shows us the limitation of human knowledge and understanding. This should cause us to live by faith, confident that even if we don’t understand all of life, there is One who does, and He is firmly in control.

The bottom line is this: We are to fear God and obey Him, knowing that He will evaluate everything in our lives. God sovereignly disposes our lives here below, “under the sun,” and He sovereignly judges our lives when we stand before Him.

On the Lord’s Day, we take a break from the treadmill of our work, and we eat and drink and rejoice before God, as the Teacher commends. In what other ways should the weekly experience of worship reinforce the fundamental wisdom and insight of Ecclesiastes?