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Ecclesiastes 12:1-12:14
Key Verse: 12:1a

Solomon, the king of Israel the son of David, is traditionally known as the author of Ecclesiastes, along with Proverbs and Song of songs. The life of Solomon was well described in 1 Kings 3-11. Solomon became a king of Israel, and when he became a king, he loved God and worshiped him wholeheartedly. God was pleased with him and gave him wisdom as well as wealth and honor. He built the temple of God in Jerusalem. His kingdom was huge, powerful and splendorous. But in his later years his heart was gradually turned away from God. Despite God’s warning, he intermarried with foreign women who brought all kinds of pagan idols to his kingdom, and he himself became an idol worshiper. And his downfall became the cause of the decline of David’s kingdom. His repentance is not clear in the Book of 1 Kings. But based on the book of Ecclesiastes, we know that he repented because this book was written at the end of his life. Especially, there is clear evidence at the conclusion of this book, which we are going to study today.

The word, “Ecclesiastes” is the Greek translation of Hebrew word, “Qoheleth”, which means ‘Gatherer’, but traditionally translated as ‘Teacher’ or ‘Preacher.” So in my message I will call him ‘Preacher.’

Look at verse 1. “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.”” This is the message especially given to young people. Actually, this message started from Chapter 11:7. Chapter 11:9 says, “Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment.” Preacher told young people to enjoy the privilege of their youth. Youth is privilege! Young people are full of desires and potentials. Enjoy your life and do whatever you desire. Also, have a big dream because you have great potentials. But remember one thing. God will hold you accountable for whatever you do.

In chapter 12:1, Preacher says. “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.” Who are young people? They are those who live before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them.” It means those who do not consider themselves old are young people. In that sense, this message is for all of us, including myself. Here the point is that we will not be forever you, as most young people think. Youth will pass away quickly. Not a good news, but it is reality. Look at verses 2 and 3. “before the sun and the light and the moon and stars grow dark, and the clouds return after the rain.” The time of youth, sunny days and years of life will pass away and soon the rain clouds will overshadow our life. From verses 3 -5, Preacher compares a man’s life to a crumbling old house in order to describe how this happens. Look at verse 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.” (3) I will also show you Good News Translation Bible, which explains this verse more vividly. “Then your arm, that have protected you, will tremble, and your legs, now strong, will grow weak. Your teeth will be too few to chew your food, and your eyes too dim to see clearly.” Let’s read verses 4-5a. “when the doors to the street are closed and the sound of grinding fades; when men rise up at the sound of birds, but all their songs grow faint; when men 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.” Their ears will be deaf until they can barely hear the sound of grinding. But even the song of a bird will wake then from sleep. When the almond tree blossoms, it become white. Likewise, their hairs will turn white. They will hardly be able to drag themselves along, and all desires will be gone. Then what happens at the end. Look at verse 5b. “Then man goes to his eternal home and mourners go about the streets.” Death comes at the end of this aging process. By describing the process of aging and death, Solomon wants young people to remember their Creator. Here, “remember” means more than just “think about God.” It means “pay full attention to Him until he enters into our hearts and be engraved in our soul.” It means that we must seriously think about God. Youth is the time we must think about our relationship with God who is our Creator and develop our personal relationship with God. Some people say, “Now is the time to enjoy my life, and I will think about God later.” But the older we become, the harder it will be. We must meet God personally when we are young and lay foundation of our life on God through Bible study. It is the time to find God’s purpose in our life and invest our life for God’s great purpose. No one is born by mistake. God has purpose for each of us when we created us and gave us life. Young people have different response about their life. Some waste it. Others spend it, and still others invest it. We have choice, but our choice will make difference in our life. When we observe great people in history, we find that they are the people who invested their life for something great while they were young. What will be your choice? We must meet our Creator God while we are young, and invest our life for the great purpose for which God created us. We must study hard and prepare ourselves for God’s purpose that is bigger than our life.

Look at verse 6a. “Remember him -- before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken.” This is the scene of golden lamp hanging from the ceiling on a silver cord. When the silver cord is severed, the golden lamp is broken and the light is gone. Look at verse 6b. “before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well.” This is another scene at the spring where the water is drawn up by the pitcher. But one day the wheel breaks, the pitcher is shattered, and no more life-giving water is drawn. It happens suddenly! As most of you know, I was suddenly hospitalized and got heart surgery about two month ago. It was a surprise to me because I was never been hospitalized in my life. I thought I was healthy. But through this experience, I realized that my life is not in my control, but in God’s hand. I was humbled by the grace of God who saved me and gave me a new life so that I can have a second chance to serve God. May God help me to be thankful everyday for the new life God gave me, and give the rest of my life to serve God and his purpose.

Look at verse 7. “and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” In the end our life is gone, and our physical body decays and goes back to the ground as a dust, and our spirit go back to God who is our Creator. This is the destiny of all mankind. We came from God, and is going back to God.

In verse 8, Preacher cried out. “Meaningless! Meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” As we learned, this Preacher is known as Solomon. According to Chapter 1-11, Solomon confessed that he sought wisdom, pleasure, wealth, power. He did all these things in search for meaning of life. But he felt meaningless, utterly meaningless in everything he did. Probably, he is now old, experiencing all the aging process he just described. Especially, he began to see the fruits of his life spent without God. But in his despair and meaninglessness of life, he remembered his Creator God whom he served in the days of his youth. He sincerely repented before God, and God restored his soul and his life and used him as the author of Ecclesiastes. Now, at the conclusion of his book, Solomon helps us to remember our Creator God. Especially, he encourages young people to remember their Creator in the days of their youth. We do not need to experiment all these things in order to find the meaninglessness of life. Our life is too short for that. Is it much wiser to learn from Solomon’s words of wisdom and search for the true meaning of life in God? Is that the reason for God to prepare Solomon in such a way in order to help us?

How did Solomon write this book in order to impart the words of wisdom? Look 9 and 10. “Not only was the Teacher wise, but also he imparted knowledge to the people. He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs. The teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true.” He pondered and searched out and collected many proverbs, Then he wrote the just the right words, and wrote what is upright and true. “Clearly, orderly and truthfully.” This is how he wrote this book.

In verse 11 to 14, He tells us the purpose of writing this book as a conclusion. First, he wrote his book as a goad and firmly embedded nails. Look at verse 11. “The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails – given by one Shepherd.” Goad is a sharp stick to prod stubborn animals to move on. His word is like a goad that inflicts us and prods us in order to bring us to Creator God and the true meaning and purpose of life. Also, his word is like firmly imbedded nails that can be used to hang the lessons we have learned from the word of God. This is all given by one Shepherd, who is God himself. So this book is written by Solomon inspired by God through the Holy Spirit. This is an infallible word of God. So he said in verse 12. “Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them.”

Let’s read verse 13. “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.” Now the Preacher made a very short conclusion after such a long discourse. This is the conclusion of Solomon’s life. And this must be the conclusion of our life as well. First, Fear God. Proverb 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” The fear of God is that attitude of reverence and awe that his people show to Him because they love Him and respect His power and His greatness. This is not an unholy fear that makes people run away from God, but a holy fear that brings them to their knees in loving submission to God. One servant of God said, “The remarkable thing about fearing God is that, when you fear God, you fear nothing else; whereas, if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.” Second, Keep His commandments. God’s commandment is God’s instruction for our life on earth. Bible stands for ‘Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth.’ When we read and follow God’s instructions, we will never fail. God blesses his people who follow his word and serve his purpose. This is the whole duty of man. This is what our life is all about. This is the way we can truly live a meaningful life in this meaningless world. When we carry out our duty to God, everything finally makes sense. Everything matters in the end. Why is it so important to carry out the whole duty of man? Look at verse 14. “For God will bring every deed into judgement, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” God is not only our Creator but also final Judge of all mankind. God sees everything, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil. We must live in the sight of God, and for the glory of God. May God help young men and women here to remember their Creator in the days of their youth. May God help us to remember our Creator while we are still young, and while we have good health and great passion to do great things. May your Creator God show you his purpose that is much bigger than your life and fulfill his great purpose throughout your life.

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