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Ecclesiastes 12:8-14 | What Really Matters

Wednesday, September 23, 2020 • • Faithfulness
What really matters in life? When it's all summed up, how are to respond to the vanities described in Ecclesiastes and experienced now in our world? Join us for our final study in the series.

 

 

  The late Vince Lombardi, former great coach of the Green Bay Packers and the Washington Redskins, is famous for his statement, "Winning isn't the most important thing; it's the only thing!" Shortly before he died, he looked back at the quote and declared, "I wish I'd never said it. I meant the effort. I sure didn't mean for people to crush human values and morality."
  Balance, Vol. 14, No. 9, B.J.U

 

If you could in fact pick just one thing to be the "only thing," what would it be? What really matters?

 

After experiencing vanities of our world, many lose heart, become apathetic, and start believe nothing matters. Still others cling one to some undeserving aim and claim that as what matters. Many just choose to try not to think about it.

 

Are these the right ways to act or think? Sure, unsolvable matters and surroundings of vanity can be depressing, but we are encouraged at the end of Ecclesiastes to not lose heart! Keep faith in God, His truths, and His wisdom.

 

It is still worth learning! . . . teaching! . . . obeying!

 

But watch out! There are pitfalls, deceptions, and distractions from others along the pathway of learning and obeying God's wisdom.

 

Verse eight of our text sums up much of the negatives described in this book before transitioning to the final epilogue of what really matters.

 

ECCLESIASTES 12:8-14

 

Ecclesiastes 12:8–14

8 Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity.

9 And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs.

10 The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth.

11 The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.

12 And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.

13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

 

This conclusion profoundly sums up the the crux of it all. It tells us what really matters in the end.

 

So, let's sit on the edge of our seats and get ready for what really matters.

 

THE EPILOGUE

 

Life is full of vanity under the sun. (vs. 8, 1:2)

 

Ecclesiastes 12:8

8 Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity.

 

Ecclesiastes 1:2

2 Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.

 

This book begins and ends with "vanity" declared. The word vanity or vanities has been included 38 times in 30 verses throughout this book. They are in every chapter except for chapter 10.

 

Vanity, enigma, meaninglessness, unpredictability, and evils are found everywhere under the sun!

 

This is true both for the wise and the unwise, the righteous and the unrighteous, the followers of God and the rebels.

 

What matters is what we do with this reality.

 

And moreover the Preacher still taught. (vs. 9-10)

 

Ecclesiastes 12:9–10

9 And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs.

10 The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth.

 

Vs. 9

And moreover:

further and in addition

 

Because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge:

wise Solomon continued to teach amidst vanity

 

yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs:

he pondered and weighed heavily, searched and studied, and arranged together many proverbs.

 

Vs. 10

He searched for acceptable words and to uprightly write words of truth.

 

Solomon did not let all the vanities of the world stop him from trusting God and following truth.

 

Wisdom, knowledge, and truth are not to be forsaken because of the existence of vanity!

 

Have you ever been tempted to forsake truth because of vanity?

 

ILL—spiritual leaders turning from God, evil in the world, an evil that happened to you?

 

This Scripture is given in part to help us hold fast in faith amidst vanity. It doesn't deny vanity; it says continue through it!

 

We are not to hold onto this corruptible world as though it is our only hope. Through Christ, we will be transformed from all this vanity into victorious, eternal living in Christ!

 

1 Corinthians 15:50–58

50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

 

Truth guides us in a world with vanity.

 

If you don't know God, Christ is the only Way to Him and to victory over this vain, sinful world.

 

If you know God through Christ, be ye stedfast . . . unmoveable . . . always abounding . . . your labor is not in vain in the Lord!

 

The words of the wise give direction and foundation from one Shepherd. (vs. 11)

 

Ecclesiastes 12:11

11 The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.

 

The collected words of the wise in Scripture's wisdom literature are like:

° Goads that prod and direct us along the right way on a narrow road.

° Nails fastened firmly to give secure footing and handles for our way.

 

They come from one Shepherd. God leads His people along through uncertainty by His revealed wisdom and truth.

 

Psalm 119:105

105 NUN. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, And a light unto my path.

 

While God gives us truth to study and obey, we must be careful in our search to not place trust in deceptions and lies.

 

Watch out for endless material that attempts to give answers apart from God's wisdom. (vs. 12)

 

Ecclesiastes 12:12

12 And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.

 

And further, by these, my son: beyond these, my son

be admonished: beware and be warned

of making many books there is no end: you will never run out of things about which to read or wright

and much study is weariness of the flesh: endless learning and trying to figure out all of life's puzzles is wearisome

 

The point is to focus on the words of the wise from one Shepherd as described in the previous verse and to fear God and keep His commandments as concluded in the next two final verses.

 

There is freedom to be found in accepting that it is neither my responsibility nor is it my ability to figure everything out.

 

This freedom is found in faith.

 

Faith in God and in His word.

 

So often, we wrongly allow ourselves to get board with what God has already said. We want something new and exciting.

 

2 Timothy 4:1–4

1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

 

Timothy was charged to stick to the Word!

° When it's convenient, and when it is not

° Reprove: give evidence or truth that convicts

° Rebuke: forbid and warn with disapproval

° Exhort: encourage a proper response and action

° With patience

° With teaching

° Because many will not want sound teaching

° Many will look for "other books" to tell them what they want to hear and teach "new secrets" to life

° They will choose stories over truth.

 

Sticking to the Word, leads us to have faith in God's straightforward design and purpose for me and for everyone.

 

Scripture points us to God's will for us, not our own. It brings us to the simple truth that the sum of our purposes is to fear God and keep His commandments.

 

Almost boring, right? But all our responsibilities, pleasures, joys, and labor are rooted in these.

 

When all has been said, the conclusion for us all is to fear God and keep His commandments. (vs. 13)

 

This conclusion is for all people.

 

Fear God: reverence, be afraid of, and stand in awe

 

keep his commandments: watch over, guard, conform to, obey

 

Ecclesiastes 5:7

7 For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear thou God.

 

Deuteronomy 6:1–2

1 Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the Lord your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it:

2 That thou mightest fear the Lord thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son's son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged.

 

Proverbs 1:7

7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: But fools despise wisdom and instruction.

 

For God will bring all things into judgment. (vs. 14)

 

Ecclesiastes 12:14

14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

 

Known and unknown

Good and evil

Every work: every act or deed

 

  • All the matters I thought were unfair
  • All the vanities I experienced by other's actions
  • How I acted upon all the opportunities God gave me
  • All the wrongs I have done
  • All the good I have done that no one else saw
  • All the oppression
  • All the wicked persons seemingly getting ahead by their evil

 

In the end, every follower of God is assured that they can entrust righteous judgment to Him, knowing we cannot bring it about ourselves. This is only God's doing.

 

Isaiah 45:23

23 I have sworn by myself, The word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, Every tongue shall swear.

 

Romans 12:19–21

19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.

21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

 

The world regularly gets up in arms and "righteously" indignant about things we don't understand. Since we don't really understand it, we pick a side and fight.

 

This is not our place. We are to step aside and let God punish.

 

There is no way we can righteously judge all matters. Therefore, all humanity needs to trust, fear, and obey God.

 

CONCLUSION

 

The conclusion of all vanity under the sun is to fear and obey the One Who knows it and will bring it all into judgment.

 

The One Who will make all things right.

 

Instead of endless searching and striving, yield to the goads and hang on to the nails given by the One Shepherd.

 

Searching and striving is Satan's deception.

ILL—Eve searching for forbidden knowledge

ILL—Cain searching to create his own justice

 

In the end, like them, we are better off sticking closely to the wisdom of God. We find and live our purpose by fearing God and keeping His commandments.

 

There are so many joys to be found there, if we will just stay there. It all comes down to fear and trust. Do we fear and trust God enough to obey Him?

 

This is what really matters in the end. Fear God and keep His commandments.

 

 

 

 

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