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Fear God and Keep His Commandments

by David Johnson

IMG_0666(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

It is great to be together again as we look into the Word of God. The title for the lesson, “Fear God and Keep his Commandments.” The text is in the Old Testament, the book of Ecclesiastes chapter 12 verses nine through 14. Please listen to the Word of God.

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. The words of the wise are like goads. Their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails given by one shepherd. Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end and much study wearies the body. 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. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing whether it is good or evil.

You realize that our lives are like a school. There are many lessons to learn, a lot of failures, hopefully, to learn from also. God primarily teaches us through his Word by the Holy Spirit. The book of Ecclesiastes is also inspired of God through the pen of Solomon who finally wrote his final analysis, his wise conclusion regarding this life under the sun, S U N. And these are truths that we should witness, that we should share with others.
In Ecclesiastes chapter 12 and verse nine it says, in part: He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs. Well, what exactly are proverbs? The word proverb means, basically, to be like. So proverbs are comparisons between common, concrete images and life’s most profound general truths. Proverbs are simple, moral statements that teach basic realities about life. The Bible’s book of Proverbs is primarily written by Solomon from God’s perspective. However the book of Ecclesiastes consists of proverbs primarily from man’s perspective. But, of course, all inspired by God, both the book of Proverbs in the Bible and the book of Ecclesiastes. And these are all truths that we can learn from and should share with one another as is the case with all Scripture.

In Ecclesiastes chapter 12 and verse 10 it emphasizes, in part, what he wrote was upright and true. Solomon wrote was true to life, not diluted, but the unadulterated truth, whether pleasant or unpleasant, whether positive or negative. Solomon wrote the truth about this life.

In verse 11 it says: The words of the wise are like goads. Well, what is a goad?  It is a tool used especially by shepherds to move, to motivate a reluctant, stubborn animal. That is, to goad them. Usually it was a long wooden stake with an iron point to jab the hind quarters, to prod, to convince the animal: You will move along. However, in verse 11 there is also another tool used by shepherds: firmly embedded nails. These were used to secure or to hold on to animals which might otherwise wander off. So what do these images, these tools as illustrational tools, goads and nails, have to do with the words of the wise? In verse 11 it says that these are collected sayings or proverbs. Wise words from the Word of God, Scripture, often are needed to goad us, to prod us, to coax us to move, action. We are not to be merely hearers of the Word of God, but what? Doers of the Word of God, pursuers of the truths of God. And firmly embedded as nails should these truths be in our minds, in our hearts, in our wills so that we don’t wander off. So that we stay on the straight and narrow, not wandering off away from God and his truths for this life. We must secure his wise truths in our lives, to pin down godly wisdom for us to apply to live it out, to nail it. And so wise goads are needed to move us, to motivate us and wise nails needed to fasten us, fasten us down, unmovable to the truth. Like a goad, a wise word or important truth of God may be unpleasant when first applied, but it will keep us moving in the right direction, in God’s direction and instruction.

In the New Testament, for example, in the epistle of James chapter one and verse two it says: Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds. No, wait a minute, pure joy and trails? Well, to the natural mind that doesn’t mix well. These are opposite of each other. How can we possibly be goaded to accept this as wise truth? The answer: James chapter one and verse three. Because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. And deep down we know this is true and wise if we allow ourselves to learn from our trials, with God’s help and guidance and direction.

 

In Ecclesiastes chapter 12 and verse 11 it ends with the words: Given by one shepherd, the source, the sustainer of the words of the wise is our God. He is our one shepherd, our ultimate protector, provider or truth and wisdom to be lived out. All Scripture is useful for training and teaching and rebuking and correction. So listen to and follow the shepherd, the one shepherd, our great God, the one true God, the only God of the universe.

In Ecclesiastes chapter 12 and verse 12 it says: Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end and much study wearies the body. This is a verse that is often one of the favorites of those that are still in school, that are students. The many books and the much study weary the body which many students can attest to. But is Solomon, inspired of God, condemning books and study? Well, no, of course not. The warning, notice, is against that which is in addition to them, addition to what? That is, in addition to the words of the wise from the one shepherd God. The warning is toward other books versus the book, the Bible, God’s Word, God’s will, because mankind has endless titles and endless topics, many, even most of which contradict and are contrary to the Bible, to God’s book. These are not helps, but hindrances, often times, because most books written by mere men fill mind and heart and will with the way of the world, not the way of the Lord, not by inspired writers that are God breathed as God carried them along and wrote what God desired in his Word according to his will. Worldly wisdom is not wisdom at all. Worldly knowledge alone, in fact, can puff up with pride even to replace God, the wisest of wise. Mankind has endless opinions and philosophies about life. But only the one shepherd, only God has absolute truth and wisdom found in his book alone, the 66 books of the Bible, the 39 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament, from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21, all God breathed for our benefit.

In Ecclesiastes chapter 12 and verse 13 it says, in part: Here is the conclusion of the matter. Fear God and keep his commandments. For this is the whole duty of man. Solomon, after investigating everything under the sun, according to the wisdom God gave him distilled it all, probably towards the end of his life, distilled it all to, first, fear God, speaking of our inner, genuine relationship with God that we are to fear, not trembling as to a monster God, but a deep, devoted attitude of reverence and awe toward our awesome God as our master, as our Lord, as our one shepherd who provides and guides and directs those that are his. And if we truly fear God, we will keep his commandments and be obedient. An unholy fear causes people to run away from God. However, a holy fear causes us to go down to our knees in reverence, in loving worship.
The book of Ecclesiastes ends as the book of Proverbs begins, as, for example, in Proverbs chapter one and verse seven where it says: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. And, of course, discipline speaks of obedience to God’s commandments. Discipline is having a godly self control, part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit as we today in the Church age have the indwelling Holy Spirit that we can grow in our disciplining ourselves as God works in us and through us by the Holy Spirit to yield the fruit of the Spirit, to exercise the gifts of the Spirit in the fear of the Lord, because he is our awesome God. He is our master and our Lord and if we truly fear him, we will keep his commandments.

In Ecclesiastes chapter 12 and verse 14 it says: For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.

Do you realize, listener, that death is not the end concerning this life? Judgment is the end regarding this life. Because after death eventually comes judgment. Unbelievers will have to give an account for their every deed at the white throne judgment, because they refused the grace of God, they refused to believe, to have genuine saving faith. They may somehow think that perhaps at that judgment they can convince God, they can convince Jesus Christ to whom God has delegated all judgment, that their deeds can earn their way to heaven. They will all fall very short, those that are being judged at the white throne judgment will all fail because no one can be saved by earning or deserving because of any deeds that they may have done. One sin not under the blood of Christ will condemn all to hell for eternity.
But believers will give an account at the judgment seat of Christ, not for salvation. That has already been taken care of in Christ Jesus through faith in him and his work on the cross. Our condemnation has been lifted, but it is a judgment nevertheless. And Jesus Christ is also the judge. But not for salvation, but for rewards or lack of rewards beyond salvation, those things done while in the body whether good or bad according to 2 Corinthians chapter five and verse 10.

Life is a gift from God. We are stewards of our lives and one day we will give an account to Christ of what we have done with his gift, the gift of life regarding our deeds as Christians, those things done while in the body whether good or bad. Bad, if they are done with the wrong attitude, if they are done in a way to get glory on earth rather than to receive rewards in eternity once we are glorified.

You understand that some only spend their lives. Others waste their lives. But we need to invest our lives in the Lord and the things of his kingdom.

Corrie Ten Boom, a very wise Christian woman said this. Quote: The measure of a life is not its duration. It is its donation, end of quote. Very wise words. And we are to give our lives to the Lord, to donate it to others as we seek to honor the Lord, as we are conformed to the image of Christ in the Church age as Christians.

 

 David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ, Sellersburg, IN.




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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

2 corinthians 1:3-4