Friday, June 20, 2008

The Duty of Man

June 20: Ecclesiastes 7-12

15 In my vain life I have seen everything. There is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his evildoing. 16 Be not overly righteous, and do not make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself? 17 Be not overly wicked, neither be a fool. Why should you die before your time? 18 It is good that you should take hold of this, and from that withhold not your hand, for the one who fears God shall come out from both of them.
Ecclesiastes 7:15-18

10 Then I saw the wicked buried. They used to go in and out of the holy place and were praised in the city where they had done such things. This also is vanity. 11 Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil. 12 Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and prolongs his life, yet I know that it will be well with those who fear God, because they fear before him. 13 But it will not be well with the wicked, neither will he prolong his days like a shadow, because he does not fear before God.
Ecclesiastes 8:10-12

1 Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; 2 before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain, 3 in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those who look through the windows are dimmed, 4 and the doors on the street are shut—when the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low— 5 they are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails, because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets— 6 before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern, 7 and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. 8 Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity.

13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
Ecclesiastes 12:1-8 & 13-14

The Duty of Man

There are few words more powerful than Ecclesiastes 12; Solomon, the wisest and richest man who ever lived sought to know the meaning of life. In Ecclesiastes 12:13 he has come to the end of the matter; he has heard everything.

Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.

In Ecclesiastes 7:15-18 Solomon makes an interesting comparison between the righteous and the wicked man. He calls us to avoid extremes in either direction, because some of both will come to the knowledge of Christ and fear God. How can one be too righteous? We only have to look at Jesus' interaction with the Pharisees in the New Testament to understand that answer. If one is too self righteous, then he has no need of a Savior, and fails to come to Christ. If one is too evil, he takes so much pleasure in his wickedness and totally lacks any fear of God, so that he never comes to Christ.

In either case, the person has been totally stripped of his conscience, so that he does not perceive the evil of his heart.

Neither are we to look about us and try to understand the justice of God. We see the righteous who live a troubled life and come to an early death, and we see the wicked enjoying great pleasures and living a long life. We must all look to their eternal destiny. The righteous, though he has lived a miserable life will live in eternal splendor and joy in the presence of the Lord. The wicked, though they have enjoyed a magnificent life for these few years they have lived on earth, face eternal darkness and suffering, being cut off from the mercy of God forever.

All of chapter 12 expresses the conclusion of Solomon; take the time and read through this chapter today. The summary is given in Ecclesiastes 12:13 & 14:

13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

There it is! Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man!

Pray that, by the grace of God, this will be your purpose for the years God gives you on this earth.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

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