“In 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,” -Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
Have you ever read through the book of Ecclesiastes in one sitting? Because if you haven’t, let me tell you it is a fascinating read and I encourage you to do so! It is a wonderful contrast of seeing the vanity of work when it is done on the earth, and yet when you do these things and have God, they suddenly have purpose and meaning. Unfortunately, I cannot cover the entire thing unless I wrote an entire novel.
However, I would like to focus on the last two verses in this book that sum it up very well, which is Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, which basically just says, “Fear God, and keep His commandments.” And of course what better way to show you exactly what this means, than to go right into the book designed to show you that very thing?
If you go to the first chapter, you’ll notice it starts out rather negative. In verse two it starts us out with, “’Vanity of Vanities’ says the Preacher, ‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity!’ What advantage does man have in all his work, which he does under the sun?”
Now this seems very negative, right? It sounds hopeless and depressing. This whole section is talking about how useless life is, and how there’s no point in it. But I want to draw your attention to that phrase “Under the sun.” This phrase essentially means, “In the world” or “Apart from God.” Whoever lives under the sun does not live under God.
We see more verses like this in 2:17 and following, “So I hated life, for the work which had been done under the sun was grievous to me; because everything is futility and striving after the wind.”
However, if we continue reading, we see a high contrast in 3:1 “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven.” Notice this phrase, “Under heaven.” This is the opposite of the phrase we saw previously. The continuing verses are very famous verses, but often taken out of context. Many people see this as “There is time to do good and there is time to do evil,” however, we must remember that all of these things are done under God, and are all therefore, in their appropriate season, good.
So we see that the first half of chapter three is in the context of being “under heaven,” so let’s look at a few of the things that occur when we are living under heaven. In 3:11-12 it says, “He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the world which God has done from the beginning to the end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime.”
We see here a very large contrast! In the beginning we see that work isn’t worth doing so why bother? But in the second section we see that under God, all things are good and worth doing because He has done so much for us, and all of those things are considered good.
So what does this have to do with loving God and keeping His commandments? If we love God and keep His commandments, we will not only be doing what is right, but we will have purpose in our own lives. With God, we have purpose. We know that we have eternity and that we aren’t just dust. So if we follow God and we keep His commandments, everything that we do, in its season, has purpose. It has meaning and brings life!
We also see in 12:13 that this applies to all people, and I won’t go into detail on this one because it’s pretty straight forward, but I would like to point out. This statement right here is what can get us to reach out to people. Because this book right here isn’t just for those of us who are already in Christ. These things apply to all people in all walks of life. If someone is struggling with something, chances are there is something Solomon has written that can help. And if we begin spreading the wisdom that he had, we can start showing everyone the good of the Bible, and that it is for all people.
Last of all let’s look at Ecclesiastes 12:14 which says, “For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.” Now, I will tell you right now that if this verse discomforts you, please change something within your life. Because to some, this is a verse of hope. That all of your good deeds will be brought to light and God will look at you and say “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
However, many read this and fear that the things they are doing in their lives will be brought to light, and if you are one of those people I urge you, please, to change so that you can have this hope as well. But also, this could simply be a matter of optimism. When we are in Christ, we are in Christ. Of course, we can fall out of His light. But God wants us. He wants us to be saved, and as long as we are staying with Him and when we do fall, ask for forgiveness, He will pick us up.
God didn’t send His only son because He didn’t want us all to be saved. He didn’t give us the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20 because He didn’t want to see all of his children in heaven. He didn’t create a hell so that He could watch us suffer. God wants us. He is a loving God, but ultimately it is our choice. And so if you are His faithful follower, you can have hope and you can know that one day, the things that you have done are going to be brought to light. And we can all have that hope. But we must first follow God, and keep His commandments.
Today I would like to encourage you to, if you have not already, read through the book of Ecclesiastes. But also I would like to encourage you to live your life in accordance to God’s will, to have purpose. Follow God and keep His commandments, and in the end your good deeds will be brought to light, and we can all see each other in heaven some day.