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2007-05-27_The Whole Duty of Man_Ecclesiastes 12_notes for improvement

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The Whole Duty of Man

Ecclesiastes 12     |     Shaun LePage     |     Graduation Sunday, November 21, 2004

I.       Opening

A.    Congratulations to graduates, expand on yesterday’s charge; 15 minutes will not do!

B.    CPS: Sometimes, we can learn a lot from a failure.

C.    Safeguard; video Lisa; HIV; living skeleton; pleads with teenagers; hope: learn from failure.

D.    One of the most amazing men of the Bible is Solomon. 1 Kings 3:12; 10:23 | Also among greatest failures—1 Kings 11:1-6.

E.     Backdrop: painting by Frans Francken II, 1622, Getty Museum. Solomon kneeling before an idol.

F.     Sometimes, we can learn a lot from a failure. If Solomon could be here with us / visit with graduates / students / young people / young parents / middle-aged and elderly: Ecclesiastes. Wrote it late in life as he looked back on his failure. Chs 1-11: Living your life “under the sun”, without recognizing the One “over the sun” who made the sun, leads to a vain, meaningless existence. But, God makes life under the sun meaningful—a gift to be enjoyed.

G.    Then chapter 12, old man, sad face would say: Ch 12

II.     Body: Ecclesiastes 12

A.    Lesson #1: Remember your Creator—better now than later.

1.     Remember your Creator in your youth. Remember “remember.”

a)     Joshua Herschel: “Much of what the Bible demands can be comprised in one word: Remember!”

b)     Deuteronomy 8:6-19: Old Moses; about to die; people about to go into the promised land.

c)     NT: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26—Lord’s Supper “…in remembrance of Me.”

d)     “Remember!” Solomon pause a little? Not involuntary, but willful choice

e)     Solomon did the opposite. High-handed: “Forget You, God! I will do what I want!”

f)      “In the days of your youth.” Links with ch 11:9

(1)  “Carpe Diem!” Enjoy yourself! Not sinful to be young and chase dreams—enjoy!

(2)  “But”—remember you will be held accountable; not absolute freedom; cars and laws

g)     How you enjoy youth matters forever, because someday God will hold you accountable.

2.     (2-5) What is all this about? Remember your Creator before you get old.

a)     Listen to NLT: “Don’t let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator. Honor him in your youth before you grow old and no longer enjoy living. 2It will be too late then to remember him, when the light of the sun and moon and stars is dim to your old eyes, and there is no silver lining left among the clouds. 3Your limbs will tremble with age, and your strong legs will grow weak. Your teeth will be too few to do their work, and you will be blind, too. 4And when your teeth are gone, keep your lips tightly closed when you eat! Even the chirping of birds will wake you up. But you yourself will be deaf and tuneless, with a quavering voice. 5You will be afraid of heights and of falling, white-haired and withered, dragging along without any sexual desire. You will be standing at death’s door.”

b)     No regrets! Do it right so you’ll have fewer regrets.

3.     (5-8) Remember your Creator before you die!

a)     Imagery of “severed cord…broken bowl…shattered pitcher”—euphemisms for death!

b)     Finished with “dust returns…spirit returns to God”—not just for “youth”. Never too late!

4.     How can we “remember”? Maintain a consistent, daily relationship with Him; Deut 6:1-12; saturate our minds with God’s word so we will “remember” our Creator!

5.     Remember your Creator—better now than later.

B.    Lesson #2: Trust the Shepherd’s Word over everything else you’ve heard.

1.     (9-10) 3rd person? Someone else? Solomon about self. Not uncommon to write in 3rd person.

2.     (11) Doesn’t really matter—all from “one Shepherd” anyway. 2 Peter 1:21; not Solomon’s words; true Scripture/wisdom, comes from God. Not just the musings of an old failure after all—wisdom from God, speaking through an old failure, guided by the Holy Spirit. | “Goad”—shepherds use to keep animals in right direction. God uses Bible in same way; “Nail”—hold something in place—permanently; Words of Scripture are permanently true.

3.     (12) “Warned…in addition”; books that contradict God’s Word; Not saying: Don’t read anything else—be careful. | “No end” (“Amen” from grads & students?); “No end” to opinions/ideas about God/purpose/meaning of life—sorting out “wearies the body”/brain. | 1992, AP evaluated 4,000 self-help books—last year. Top shelf for self-help? The Bible!

4.     Trust the Shepherd’s Word over everything else you’ve heard.

C.    Lesson #3: Fear the Judge and obey to enjoy today and judgment day!

1.     (13) Conclusion of the matter” 2-part answer: “Fear God and keep His commandments.”

a)     Why “Fear God”? To know God is to fear God. Where wisdom begins—Pr 1:7.

(1)  Fear God because He is holy. Hebrew means “fear.” 21st century ears don’t like, but fearing God is the unavoidable consequence of knowing God. God is holy; we are not. Unholy in presence of Holy, the unavoidable result is fear.

(2)  Fear God because He is the Creator! Designed you, knows best. Apart from Him, life is pointless. Col 1:16 “…all things were created by Him and for Him”.

(3)  Fear God because He is love! Loves so much, He discipline (corrects). Perfect, loving Father. Not abusive, spoiling fun, squelch freedom—corrective, right direction | Linked with blessing—Deut 30:15-20. Smartest, healthiest and most beneficial way to live | Not just OT thing either: Lk 12:4,5; Phil 2:12; Heb 12:28,29

b)     “Keep His commandments”—Belief is mother of behavior. How do you know someone “fears God”? They “keep His commandments.” If not—what they want. They decide right and wrong.

c)     “The whole duty of man.” This is it! Want to know the purpose and meaning of life? Want to know what your job description is here on planet earth? Fear God and keep His commandments. This is your whole duty—this is the whole ball of wax. This life we are to live is really not so complicated. It’s not easy—but it’s not complicated. |  May be more than just “duty”—not found in the text; may mean “…for this is man’s wholeness.” The complete man, the fulfilled person is the one who “fears God and keeps His commandments.” Solomon would say that having this “wholeness” or fulfilling our “whole duty” (whichever) is the only way to enjoy this life. He asked the question in 2:25, “Without Him (i.e., God) who can find enjoyment?” Expected answer? No one!

2.     (14) Why end with “judgment”—real fear if not “fearing God/keeping His commandments.” We will stand before God and give an account. 1 Cor 3—“laid the right foundation” (trusted Christ for salvation) no need to fear the flames of hell. But fear the flames of the judgment of our deeds. “God will bring every deed into judgmentwhether it is good or evil.” What does that mean? Today matters forever—ample motivation for “fearing and keeping.”

II.     Closing

A.    Sam Levenson: “You must learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t possibly live long enough to make them all yourself.” (Houston Chronicle, Dec. 29, 1998, p. 2D).

B.     “Hindsight is 20/20.” Solomon would have loved that proverb. Easy to look back and see how we could have done things better (hindsight), but beautiful thing about Scripture—including Ecclesiastes—gives us “foresight.” If we will trust it we will have fewer regrets—instead of “old failures” perhaps we can be “whole successes”.

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