Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.
King Solomon had spent his whole life trying to find happiness and meaning. God had allowed him unlimited resources and opportunity to find a reason for living any way he could. He pursued every possibility available to man: work, wealth, pleasure, fame, friends, love and power. In the end Solomon concluded that life was futile and useless apart from God.
Now all has been heard and here’s the answer to a meaningful life:
FEAR GOD AND KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS
Not only was the conclusion to “fear God and keep His commandments”, but Solomon stated that this was the whole duty of man! Well, something is wrong here. Either Solomon was oversimplifying things, or we don’t really understand what the “fear of God” is because you can’t possibly sum up the whole answer to living life in six words, can you? Fear God and keep His commandments. That’s it?!
Yes! That’s it! Fear God and keep His commandments. That is the conclusion of whole matter – the question of life and how to live it. The reason why it seems too simple to us is because we have such a shallow, diluted and obscured understanding of what fearing God means.
Until recent times, a truly Godly person would be described as “a God-fearing man”. Why? Because Saints of old had a better understanding of what fearing God meant. It has now become old fashioned, “legalistic” and unpopular to speak of fearing God. It has been determined that the truly effective way to draw people to God is to speak only of His love. We explain how the Lord will fix everything in your life that is broke and bring you happiness. We don’t want to risk portraying God as scary, harsh or judgmental. So in our best human wisdom, it has been determined that speaking about fearing God will hurt the effort to bring people to Him, or bring them to Him for the wrong reason.
However, the wisest man that ever lived apart from Christ Himself said that not only should we fear God but it is the CONCLUSION of the question of life, and the WHOLE duty of man. We have a hard time believing it can be that simple.
Maybe there is much more to “fearing God”
than we commonly understand today.
The “fear of God” has slowly lost it’s true meaning until the average Christian today thinks it is simply a deep respect for God, a fear of His judgment and punishment of sin. As a result, we don’t talk of fearing God because we all know that the “correct” way to evangelize is not to try and “scare” people into believing in God.
It is true that part of the idea of fearing God does indeed involve respect and judgment but this wholly inadequate grasp of what it means is why Solomon’s conclusion holds so little impact for us today. Solomon states that not only is fearing God and obeying him important, it is the conclusion of the WHOLE matter…. it sums up the entire duty of man! That’s a very bold statement and one worth examining.
In this series of devotionals we will examine what it means to fear the Lord and rediscover this truth that was so central to Christianity until recent times. If the Bible concludes that it is the “conclusion” to the whole question of life, then it should be well worth our effort to find out what it means.
Great and Mighty God, You have told us in Your Word that the conclusion of the whole matter of life is very simply to fear You and obey You. If it is really that simple, we pray that You will illumine our hearts with a deep understanding of what this truly means. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Contemplation: Have you ever wondered if there is a single answer to all of life’s concerns? Does it seem too simple that fearing God and obeying Him could really be the “conclusion of the whole matter”? Does that sound like some quaint Christian saying that fits nicely in a Bible study but could hardly be true in real life?
Application: The Fear of God should be the continual mindset and spiritual filter for our whole life. The problem is, we have lost the true meaning and depth of this fear. Write down what you think the “fear of the Lord” is and keep your answer to see how your understaning progresses as we study it.
James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?