January 3, 2023
Bishop, W. F. Houston, Jr.
Bible Study Reading: Ecclesiastes 12:9–14
Ecclesiastes 12:13 (NLT)
* That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty.
Thomas Schreiner A seminary Professor wrote: “Ecclesiastes is realistic - It teaches us that life under the sun is often empty, futile, and absurd, and yet it does not run us into the rocks of despair. . . . When we understand that this world isn’t paradise on earth, we are reminded that nothing is more important than a right relationship with God.”
Only through learning and having insight into what is essential and authentic can we determine what should be prioritized and pursued. Yesterday, we saw that the author of Ecclesiastes considered life "under the sun" to be "meaningless, a chase after the wind." (1:13–14). But when human existence is lived "above the sun," that is, in the context of the fear of the Lord, obedience, and worship, human life, knowledge, and pursuits can become significant. (12:13–14).
Only when viewed in this light does the book of Ecclesiastes, as well as the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom in general, have any significance (vv. 9–10). By compiling and organizing proverbs, for instance, the Teacher (perhaps Solomon) was able to pass on wisdom to subsequent generations through the channel of philosophy and literature. Without God, though, this too would have been a futile pursuit.
The wisdom contained in these proverbs is comparable to "goads" or "firmly embedded nails." (vv. 11–12). A goad is a stick with a pointed end used to steer sheep in the desired direction. Learning can be a trying experience for people with a propensity to wander off course. And as countless students throughout the years can attest, "There is no end to making many books, and much study wears the body out." (v. 12). Now someone out there may be asking: Bishop Houston, then why do it? And my answer is - To pursue godliness and to stay on the straight road.
Thankfully, there's only one good knowledge source, and we can put our faith in His justice and kindness. God is the "last answer" to everything (vv. 13–14). Human learning is useless and hopeless without Him, but it’s meaningful and optimistic with Him!
*Beloved, take some time to reflect on how you feel about the various aspects of your life. Which aspects of it are being lived "above the sun" or done for the purpose that God has in mind? How can you ensure that more of your life will count toward your eternal legacy
(1 Cor. 3:12–15)?
Let Us Pray:
Dear Heavenly Father, It’s You who give meaning and direction to our lives. During this time, may You shine Your light on every aspect of our lives and imbue them with new meaning because of who You are. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.