FEAR GOD AND KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS – Ecclesiastes 12


This is the end of the matter; all hath been heard:

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

For God will bring every work into judgment, with every hidden thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Ecclesiastes 12:13‭-‬14 ASV

QUOD ERAT DEMONSTRANDUM

(which (is what) was to be shown (originally) —abbreviation Q.E.D. —used at the end of a logical or mathematical proof)

Solomon here gives us the final and authoritative conclusion of his thorough and extensive search for the answer to the question, “What is good for man”?

In the same manner that one may prove a theorem in geometry, he has here come to the Q.E.D.

In the glorious conclusion to Ecclesiastes, Solomon lays down the gauntlet, raises the white flag, and surrenders. The worldly wisdom of Solomon ends with his submission to the power of God.

These final two verses guard against any possible misconception; and they give the author’s real and mature conclusion.

“Fear God and keep his commandments” (Ecclesiastes 12:12).

Yes, GOD IS, and he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Furthermore, he has given commandments which men are obligated to honor and obey.

Indeed, THERE IS A DIVINE REVELATION FROM GOD.

Here is Solomon’s witness to the existence and authority of the Law of Moses, because nothing else in the entire history of mankind ever even pretended to be the authentic Word of God.

“This is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:12).

The word duty here is not in the the Hebrew text of the O.T. and has been added by the translators; and the passage may be read as, the whole of man. A footnote in the RSV which translates: “This is the duty of every man.”

Indeed it is true, regardless of the translation here. Even the Anchor Bible got back in line with this rendition:

The sum of the matter when all has been heard is this: Reverence God, and observe his laws. This applies to everything.

The whole business and the whole purpose, and the whole intent of God’s placing man upon the earth (the whole of man) – all that concerns man is summed up here.

Fear God and obey him!

All other things, as stated again and again in Ecclesiastes, are dependent upon a Higher Incomprehensible Being.

This is the Higher Intelligence, the Creator, the First Cause, the great I AM.

HE IS GOD!

The fear and obedience of God are still the basic requirements of man’s behavior, and God will hold him accountable for his actions.

“For God will bring every work into judgment, with every hidden thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”

A more positive statement of the Biblical doctrine of the Eternal Judgment is to be found nowhere else in the Old Testament.

The fact of God’s eventual judgment of the whole world is a cardinal principle of Christianity, one of the fundamentals (Hebrews 6:2).

This announcement of it at the end of Solomon’s book makes it a climax.

It could very well have been that his conviction of this certainty was the very thing that finally brought him to his senses.

This certainty of the final judgment at last was that which finally brought Solomon out of the labyrinth of his skepticism.

It will also do the same thing for every honest and intelligent man who will contemplate it.

The resolution of the discord (the making of all things right: the just assignment of rewards for the righteous and punishments for the wicked, which shall take place only in the world to come)

All this shall await the time when faith will give place to sight and every hidden thing will be revealed; so we may say of these last words of Ecclesiastes, that they foreshadow the resurrection.

Solomon’s conclusion is that true religion is the only way to true happiness.

Man may chase the rainbows in any direction that he chooses, but apart from the love and service of God, only the rottenness of a grave awaits him.

The verdict of God’s truth against any other way but the true one is `vanity of vanities.’

Why should anyone doubt it and throw his life away in the pursuit of life’s beckoning butterflies, all of which can only disappoint and destroy him?

For a more extensive discussion of The Judgment regarding:

(1) its place in the Bible,

(2) the necessity for it,

(3) the occasion of it,

(4) its importance as a foundational doctrine of Jesus Christ,

(5) the reasons for its being a day of terror and sorrow for all the tribes of the earth.

Our study of this amazingly powerful chapter of God’s Word would not be complete without a summary of the great doctrines of Christianity that are either expressly declared, necessarily implied, or both, in these verses.

Here they are:

The Existence and Power of God

God is the Creator

God is the creator of Man

Immortality of the Soul

The Resurrection of the Dead

God is the Shepherd of Israel

The Existence of Moses’ Law

God’s Commands Available in that Law

That Law a Divine Revelation

Man’s Accountability to God

The Eternal Judgment (Heaven and Hell)

Rewards and Punishments

It would be difficult indeed to find another chapter in the whole Bible with a more impressive constellation of stellar Christian doctrines than that which appears here.

Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Amen!

The Lord made a covenant with them, and commanded them,

“You shall not fear other gods or bow yourselves to them or serve them or sacrifice to them; but you shall fear the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt with great power and with an outstretched arm; you shall bow yourselves to him, and to him you shall sacrifice. And the statutes and the ordinances and the law and the commandment which he wrote for you, you shall always be careful to do. You shall not fear other gods, and you shall not forget the covenant that I have made with you. You shall not fear other gods, but you shall fear the Lord your God, and he will deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies.”
2 Kings 17:35‭-‬39 RSV
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