We're skipping ahead a few chapters, but the end of Ecclesiastes defines where true life begins.
Read / Listen to the chapter:
Read the chapter in an outlined format
Ecclesiastes 12 (ESV)
1 Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth,
before the evil days come
and the years draw near
of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”;
the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened
and the clouds return after the rain,
3 in the day
when the keepers of the house tremble,
and the strong men are bent,
and the grinders cease because they are few,
and those who look through the windows are dimmed,
4 and the doors on the street are shut—
when the sound of the grinding is low,
and one rises up at the sound of a bird,
and all the daughters of song are brought low—
5 they are afraid also of what is high,
and terrors are in the way;
the almond tree blossoms,
the grasshopper drags itself along,
and desire fails,
because man is going to his eternal home,
and the mourners go about the streets—
the silver cord is snapped,
or the golden bowl is broken,
or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain,
or the wheel broken at the cistern,
7 and the dust returns to the earth as it was,
and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
8 Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity.
9 Besides being wise,
the Preacher also taught the people knowledge,
weighing and studying
and arranging many proverbs with great care.
10 The Preacher
sought to find words of delight,
and uprightly he wrote words of truth.
11 The words of the wise are like goads,
and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings;
they are given by one Shepherd.
12 My son, beware of anything beyond these.
Of making many books there is no end,
and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
13 The end of the matter; all has been heard.
and keep his commandments,
for this is the whole duty of man.
14 For God
will bring every deed into judgment,
with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
Read the chapter on BibleGateway
Definitions of key terms in Ecclesiastes which make it much easier to understand.
Ecclesiastes 12 Summary
The opening 7 verses of Ecclesiastes 12 are one, long depressing sentence (try reading it in the outlined format using the drop down link above to better see its structure).
The bottom line: your future may have some bright spots along the way, but life under the sun will quickly be darkened, and you will return to the dust you were created from. Cling to God's promises now while you still can.
We've been listening these last couple of weeks to the Preacher, a character based on the life of King Solomon. His lesson is now complete, an in v8, the narrator (who we haven't heard from since the Preacher was introduced in 1:2) steps in to bring things to a conclusion:
Everything is meaningless, but yet mankind will forever write, study, and yearn for something more. But under the sun, it will only lead to weariness (v12).
Ecclesiastes, though it seems very dark and depressing at times, is actually a very optimistic book.
Though life under the sun seems meaningless, life beyond the sun has eternal consequence.
In other words, as a Christian who has been raised with Christ, your life matters!
Verse 13-14 explains why:
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
We often associate God's judgment with His condemnation of evil deeds. God's judgment certainly includes that, but it's not just your sins that God will consider. He will also recognize the good you have done and reward it!
The message of Ecclesiastes is simple, and it ought to be your philosophy in life:
Fear God and keep His commandments (especially the commandment to repent and trust in Christ!). Realize this world is broken, but enjoy the good things He gives you in the moment He gives them. Hold onto life under the sun loosely, but remember everything you do matters, so glorify God in all things.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, for whom we must have holy fear;
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Thank God that your life matters, and pray that you will glorify Him in all you do.
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: