“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.” Ecclesiastes 12:13-14; NKJV
Today we are bringing a conclusion to the whole matter of whether or not the Old Testament is still relevant for the modern Christian. These final words in Ecclesiastes, written by King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived (read 1 Kings 3 to see where, or more specifically, from whom he received his wisdom), sums up all of man’s purpose here on earth in three simple statements: fear God, obey His commands, prepare for judgment. There is no excuse, especially now, when it is becoming more obvious that we are approaching the end of days (Romans 13:11; Hebrews 10:25).
As I’ve said before, there are many things we can glean from reading the Old Testament. Don’t write it off with the excuse that “we’re under a new covenant now.” Remember, Jesus did not say He came to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17), because God’s word will never return to Him void, but will accomplish what He sent it do (Isaiah 55:11; Matthew 5:18). With that in mind, understand that there is no unimportant scriptures in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, but everything is written, as said in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, for “teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
So let’s take a closer look at Solomon’s final words to understand what exactly is “man’s all.”
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.” Psalm 111:10; NIV
To fear doesn’t necessarily mean to be afraid of God, although it can, for Matthew 10:28 does say to fear “the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” But to fear also means to have reverence or to show great respect. Recognize that God is God, the only true God, who is worthy of all the praise and honor. He created you. He created me. He created everything in this earth. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and He is everywhere.
And despite how great and mighty God is, He still cares for us. Psalm 34:1-3 says, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together” (NKJV). Later in that psalm, David says, “There is no want to those who fear Him . . . but those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing” (v. 9-10). God wants to see us succeed, He wants to see us prosper (Jeremiah 29:11). It’s not His intention that we should perish (2 Peter 3:9). He sacrificed His One and Only Son, better yet, He came to earth to die, just for us. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (NIV) Any God willing to do all of this for a creation that is far from the perfect and holy beings He originally created, deserves all the reverence and praise. And to do that we must . . .
Obey His Commands
“Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” Psalm 119:11; NKJV
Fearing God and keeping His commandments go hand in hand. If you look back at the verse in Ecclesiastes, you’ll notice that the two statements are joined together by the conjunction “and.” This tells us that we cannot do one without the other. We cannot fear or respect God if we do not keep His commandments or obey what He tells us to do. Remember, Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15), and anyone who keeps His commandments will be loved by Him and by the Father also (John 14:21; 15:10).
What are His commandments? What has God always asked us to do, from Genesis to Revelation? To be holy, as He is holy (Leviticus 19:2; 1 Peter 1:15-16). 2 Timothy 2:22 says to flee youthful lusts and pursue righteousness. Ephesians 5:3 says, “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” Colossians 3:5-8 tells us to put to death all that belongs to our sinful earthly nature. And Galatians reminds us that the fruit of the Spirit is not “sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like,” but ” love, joy, peace, forbearance (long-suffering/ patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:19-23).
Looking back at Psalm 34, David says he will teach us the fear of the Lord (v. 11), and that is to “depart from evil and do good” (v. 14). Remember, obeying God’s word isn’t optional just because we’re under grace now. Grace doesn’t free us to sin without consequence, it frees us to pursue righteousness and holiness (Romans 6:15-23), because now we have His Holy Spirit with us 24/7 to guide us the whole way through. 1 John 3:8-9 says the one who sins cannot be of God. Does that mean we’re damned if we make a mistake? Of course not. Proverbs 24:6 says “a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again.” Just get back up, know that you have His forgiveness if you only ask (1 John 1:9), and continue on that path to righteousness, obeying His every word, because ultimately you must . . .
Prepare for Judgment
“You are great in counsel and mighty in work, for Your eyes are open to all the ways of the sons of men, to give everyone according to his ways and according to the fruit of his doings.” Jeremiah 32:19
Preparing for judgment sounds so ominous, but the truth is, if you’ve been doing good, actively pursuing righteous living, obeying God’s commands, etc., there’s nothing to worry. Hebrews 4:13 says, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (NIV). When the end comes, we will all have to give an account of our deeds, whether good or bad. 1 Corinthians 3:13 says that on that day of judgment, our works will be tested by fire, and those whose works endure will receive a reward (v.14), for God sees what’s done in secret, and rewards it openly (Matthew 6:4;6).
So what good things have you done for the kingdom of God? Do you fear Him and walk in obedience to His word? Are you pursuing righteousness rather than chasing after sinful passions? Are you praying that you fulfill God’s will rather than your own? All of these things will be brought to light at the appropriate time. That’s why we must always be ready, as Jesus says in Matthew 24:44, because He will come at an hour we least expect, and when He finally does arrive, it is better for us to be doing the very thing He’s commanded us to do rather than not, because “not” can have grave consequences.
Which brings us to that ominous part of judgment, the part we don’t like to talk about, the part reserved for those who don’t accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savoir, who continue to live in sin, who hold an utter disregard or disdain toward the Father in heaven and His word. There’s a reward for them as well, and it’s not a good one. Look again at Matthew 10:28, when Jesus says to fear Him who has the power to destroy both body and soul in hell. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus describes the final destination for those who do evil as a place of torment, eternal fire (Matthew 25:41), wailing, and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 24:51). It’s the last place any of us want to be, and it’s the last thing God wants to do to His own creation (1 Timothy 2:3-4), but our actions will determine our destination. So, what are your actions saying?
The best way to avoid such a damning fate is to recognize what our true purpose in life is, as Solomon has reminded us. First, to fear God and obey His commands. Obey His commands because you love and respect Him, because you desire to please Him, because you want to receive eternal reward in heaven, or because you simply don’t want to go to hell. That could be how your fear of God starts. Hopefully it will develop into something stronger as you grow in knowledge and in your relationship with Him, but not wanting to go to hell is a good reason to obey God in the beginning. And finally, we need to prepare for judgment, because a time will come when we have to show God all we’ve done for Him, and I pray that all your works will stand through the test so that you will receive your reward in heaven.
“As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.” John 9:4
Prayer of Salvation: Heavenly Father, forgive me for not making my all about you. I realize that everything I have in life is vanity if you are not in it, for what would it profit me to gain the whole world and still lose my soul? Jesus, please forgive me of all my sins, and cleanse me once and for all from the desire to pursue anything that is not righteous in your sight. You said in your word that if we just believe in you, that you were sent by God, that you died on the cross for our sins and rose again, then we are saved and have eternal life. So, Jesus, I believe in you, and I make you Lord over my life. Fill me with the desire to do your will and obey your commandments that I may be prepared when the time comes for you to take us all back to glory and eternal life with you forever in heaven. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.