Life is full of certainties. As Ecclesiastes 1:9 explains: “there is nothing new under the sun.”
Such a statement is true for most of us. Here are some things that I believe is certain: the first is change, as the all too familiar saying goes, ‘the only thing constant is change.’; the future, precisely because time is linear thus it only moves in one direction – forward; growing up and growing old, an exception to this process would make us abnormal; the inevitability and certainty of death, which for some of us it would either be sooner or later.
It is with the grasp of such certainties of life that the author of our passage wrote the Book of Ecclesiastes.
Context of the Book
Before we expound on the passage let us first lay down the context of the Book of Ecclesiastes.
Clues pertaining to the identity of the author can be found on the first chapter of the Book. The author identified himself as the king of Israel. 1 He also referred to himself as wiser than any other king in Jerusalem2
It is interesting to note that 1 Kings 3:1-15 tells of the story when the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream3 and told Solomon to ask anything from Him and He will give it. Solomon, asked the Lord for understanding4. Having been pleased with Solomon’s answer the Lord blessed Solomon with wisdom and more saying:
“will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.5”
Thus making Solomon rightly fit the billing as the Book’s author.
It could be said that it was during Solomon’s youth that he wrote the Book of Proverbs as that wise king and that it was during the last days of his life that he wrote Ecclesiastes as an aged king who has seen it all.
The author refers to himself as the Qoheleth, which is a Hebrew word that literally translates as ‘the Preacher,’ or ‘the Teacher,’ or ‘the Leader of the Assembly.’ What makes this title unique is that the word qoheleth is closely related to the word ekklesia, which is a Hebrew noun that pertains to ‘an assembly’ it is also the same word which we got the word that we use for church, which is an assembly of believers in Christ.
Thus coming up with the title: Ecclesiastes which we can define as the Qoheleth or the Preacher’s message to his ekklesia or assembly.
Ecclesiastes is a unique book because unlike other books in the Old Testament it does not dwell upon – the election of Israel as God’s chosen people; or of sacred history; or of messianic prophecy, etc. Instead, it focuses on -man, as a creature and as well as his life on earth and the inscrutability of God and His ways as delivered to us by Solomon who in the book embodies ‘man’ at his best whereupon he excels in endeavors that most of us also aspire to be good at.
It goes beyond other wisdom literature (like Proverbs, which gives us sayings that we can live by), to emphasize the fact that human life and human goals as ends in themselves, apart from God are futile and meaningless: “a chasing after the wind.”6
What is interesting with the term is that in the original language the word can also be defined as ‘vapor,’ which evaporates or vanishes quickly leaving nothing behind. 9
And as the Koheleth looks back to reflect upon the life he has lived he would arrive at this conclusion:
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”10
Remember your creator
Who shoud we remember? – our Creator.
This seems very elementary for most of us. But honestly, if we will really examine ourselves now – can we honestly say that we exert that much effort in remembering our Creator?
Or for that matter, do we really have a grasp of what it really means to remember our Creator?
To start with remembering our Creator involves desiring to know the deeper truths about who God is, let us always be reminded that we did not only receive God through Christ in order to get a quick ticket to Heaven. But also in order to enter into a relationship with Him. Being in a relationship with someone involves communication; and God communicates Himself to us through the truths that He reveals about Himself in the Bible.
Too often we believers fall into the trap of studying Sacred Scripture in order to get principles which we could apply in our lives, which is not bad in principle – however it definitely falls short of what God intends to reveal to us about Himself through His Word.
Therefore, ‘remembering our Creator’ entails remembering God as our ultimate Creator11; who rules over all creation12; who sustains His creation13, which explains why the Laws of Physics are in place. To remember our Creator means to remember Christ as part of the Godhead who was created us 14 but also as the one who made all things new with His death and ressurection – ultimately enabling us to become sons, (and daughters) of God, as C.S. Lewis puts it:
“The Son of God became a man, to enable men to become sons of God.”15
To remember our Creator also means to remember the Holy Spirit who indwells us and comforts us and blesses us with spiritual gifts. 16
It is high time for us to examine ourselves whether we really exert that much effort to remembering our Creator in our quiet time, prayer time, during Sunday serices, Sunday school, cell groups etc.
Are we in these activies really exerting our effort to really remember our Creator, or do we often just go along with the motions of religious activity?
It is in this area that we must always prayerfully seek God’s sustaining grace to not let our spiritual disciplines to fall into the realm of routine.
Come Monday, most of us again will be going back to school or to work. I believe that it would be very meaningful for as also that before we get ourselves entagled with our busy schedule, that we would commit to making a concious effert to ‘remember our Creator’ by seeking Him throught His Word, recognizing Him as the source of all our blessings and seeing Him as the reason why we keep on living.
Moreover, commitment to ‘remembering our Creator’ in our daily devotion also requires us to translate what we remember about our Creator through our actions which we can do by exhibiting His grace to others in the same manner that He exhibited His grace to us through Christ who redeemed us from our sins and made us into His new creations.
Practical ways of exhibiting God’s grace to others can go on and on. But I believe that the best place to start is by doing it in an introspective approach, which starts with counting our blessings, where it then it is followed by expressing gratitude; which can come in the form of charity (the term itself originated in the Greek word for grace – charis); or by encouragement or thru burden-bearing which then becomes our active witness to Christ, and His Good News.
Why shoud we remember our Creator?
The New Living Translation offers an interesting paraphrase of the verse: “Don’t let the excitement of your youth cause you to forget your Creator…”
Earlier we have talked about how life on earth is but a vapor. It is here now where th Preacher addressus us in how we should go about with our priorities in life, knowing that life on earth is like that of a vapor which vanishes quickly.
For those of us who still consider ourselves as ‘youths’ we look at it in light of how are bodies are still in good shape. Earlier we talked about certainties and here we are now called to learn to live with the certainty of growing old and like Solomon, most of us Christians let the excitement of youth misplace our priorities – where instead of remembering our Creator – we let our priorities, ambitions, desire for pleasure, knowledge, fun and adventure occupy most of our time.
In a sense, the passage states that now indeed is the time for us to start remembering our Creator, before it’s too late and then we will say: “I find no pleasure in them.”17
Furthermore, the succeeding verses gives us reason why we should remember our Creator now:Our eyesight will become poor in time;18 Our teeth will deteriorate and fall off our gums;19 we will in time become deaf.20 In other words old age and its accompanying physical deterioration will in time hinder us from remembering our Creator. While verses 5 to 7 of chapter 12 talks about the imminence of death.
Therefore, now is the best time to make the most out of remembering our Creator.
Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man
Fear of God is man’s response to what he remembers about his Creator in His study of His Word. Fear here can be defined more as reverent feat, in the same way that we would fear our parents because we love and revere them.
Solomon also wrote in his youth that: “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”21Thus rememberance of the Lord leads us to reverence of Him and His ways.
Why should we fear God?
For it is the whole duty of man. Verse 14 points towards several spiritual truths that we must learn to deal with.
First is judgement – the certainty of our deaths also comes with the certainty of a coming judgement after death. 22 This applies to both believers and non-believers alike.
Another is the reality of God’s Omniscience, which is an important attribute of God which means that He is all-knowing. And He knows even ‘every secret thing,’ as verse 14 puts it.
To conclude our study I point towards an important Christian doctrine that has so gotten misused so often. That is the Doctrine of Stewardship – which is a the truth that God owns everything including us and that one day we will give an account as to how we lived our borrowed life from God.
The doctrine applies to us in such a way that with rememberance of our Creator we’ll be reminded of God our Creator who is the source of our lives and therefore we should live in constant reverent fear and obedience to His will because in the first pleace He is the One who gave us the life that we are all enjoying now.
The message was entitled time will come because indeed time will come…
…when we’ll realize that like the Qoheleth, we will realize that all is vanity and that we’ll find no pleasures in vain pursuits in these world unless it is in the pursuit of remembering who God is in our lives.
Time will come…when death will come to us, and we’ll give an account of our lives to God and we’ll hear Him say either of the two things that was mentioned in Matthew Chapter 25 that is:
1Ecclesiastes 1:12 NIV
2Ecclesiastes 1:16 NIV
31 Kings 3:5 NIV
41 Kings 3:9 NIV
51 Kings 2:12 NIV
6Ecclesiastes 1:14 NIV
7Ecclesiastes 1:2 KJV
8Ecclesiastes 1:12 NIV
9Ecclesiastes 1:11 KJV
10Ecclesiastes 12:1 NIV
11Genesis 1:1 NIV
12 Hebrews 1
13 Colossians 1:17
15Lewis, C.S. – Mere Christianity
16 John 16:5-16 NIV
17Ecclesiastes 12:1 NIV
22Ecclesiastes 12:14 & Hebrews 9:27
24Matthew 25: 26