First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Sunday ~ October 25, 2020)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14; Acts 10:1-8
We come this morning to the end of our study in the book of Ecclesiastes. After all the roads Solomon has taken us, we finally arrive at the one destination where we need to be; the presence of God where we see the true value of our life. This morning, we’re going to look at the final two verses of Ecclesiastes, chapter 12:13-14: “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God, and keep his commandments; for that is the whole duty of everyone. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.”
The Qoheleth, the Preacher, King Solomon, saved the best for last. At a concert, the biggest hit is the song that closes the show and dessert is saved for the end of a good meal. The same is true in Ecclesiastes. The entire book has thus far explored the meaning of our fleeting life, and now gives us the bottom line for how to keep life aligned with God’s will.
Before giving us his grand finale, his big idea, Solomon reminds us of who he is. Ecclesiastes 12:9-10 says, “Not only was the Teacher wise, but he also 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.” We are reminded that not only is Solomon wise, he was appointed by God as a teacher who spent his entire life researching the meaning of life. To earn our trust and open our ears, Solomon reminds us who he is and what his primary mission was.
So before saying goodbye to us, the Preacher in Ecclesiastes wants us to consider just how meaningful our lives are. What I would like to do this morning is to briefly examine the Preacher’s final statement. What does the Preacher have in store for is us today?
First: It’s Time to DecideIn Ecclesiastes 12:13, Solomon says, “The end of the matter; all has been heard.” Throughout the book, Solomon summarized what this world offers: vanity—all is vanity, chasing after the wind, going in circles. In Ecclesiastes, Solomon taught us that everything under the sun is fading away quickly. It won’t last. So why keep reaching for it? We have an alternative: life under the hand of God. And here at the end of the book, it’s time to become decisive for him. God is asking, “What are you waiting for? You have all the information you need to make a decision.” What are you waiting for?
At some point, we have to make up our mind. Will we keep searching for meaning in this world or will we accept our meaning from God? Will we keep searching for our identity in what we have, or will we accept the truth of who we are. We have to land on one side or the other. We want to think it through and weigh the options, but we can’t sit on the fence forever. We gotta make up our mind—how are we going to live this one life we have?
Some of us aren’t sure where we land yet. You’re still exploring. You need time to think it through. Ask the Lord for help. But maybe some of us are just refusing to commit. We want to keep our options open. We want to be spiritual but not committed. I will pray for those too. Remember, this world’s offers are shiny; they look great. But they’re empty in the end. A mist. Vain. Solomon proved that to us, and we’ve lived long enough to feel it. But look at God’s offer in the gospel. Look at the kind of life our awesome God offers. If you’re looking for a meaningful life, here it is. Here at the end of this book, God wants you to decide.
Second: It’s Time to Obey The Preacher invites us to decide and he also wishes we all make the right decision. “Fear God, and keep his commandments; for that is the whole duty of everyone,” says Solomon in Ecclesiastes 12:13. “Fear God and keep his commandments,” Solomon says; first fearing, then following. Obedience comes from fear. We can’t reverse this order.
But what does it mean to fear the Lord? We think of fear primarily as synonymous with scared, but the Bible primarily means something else. Fearing God is more reverence and awe than terror and fright. To fear God is to see God as God. To fear God is to come to a realization that God is the one you’ve been looking for all your life. He’s all you need. In Him is the totality of everything your heart longs for.
Pastor Tim Keller says, “When the Bible talks about the fear of God, it means an inner state, an inner condition of awe and amazement and wonder before the magnitude of the love and the power and the greatness of God. It’s an inner condition of awe and respect, of fear and trembling, of amazement before not only the power and the holiness but the love and the mercy of God.”
When we fear God, He becomes the centering point for our life. Fearing God infuses our life with meaning. And when God is first in our affections, He is also first in our plans. He sets the tone for our life. Fearing comes first and obedience follows. In Acts chapter 10, Luke tells us about a man named Cornelius who was a “devout man who feared God.” Because Cornelius feared God, he gave generously, and he prayed constantly. In fact, the Bible says that his generosity and prayers have ascended as a memorial before God. The product of a God-fearing life is an amazing product and very honoring to God. The fear that the Bible speaks about, therefore, translates into loving obedience.
Friends, everything begins and ends, rises and falls, succeeds and fails, based upon our fear of God. Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” May we choose wisdom over folly today. It’s time to decide. It’s time to obey. All has been said, Solomon would say. Which way are you taking? “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve,” Joshua challenged the people in the past and I want to put the same challenge before you today. Whoever has ears, let them hear. Amen.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.