Fear God and keep his commandments - 16 August 2019

Ben Fourie

“Meaningless! Meaningless” says the Teacher. Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” Ecclesiastes 1:2 (NIV)

If one looks at this opening verse it is no wonder that the old Jewish teachers as late as the first century after Christ debated the inclusion of Ecclesiastes in their Holy Scriptures. But the more one reads the book the more one comes under the impression of the author's deep insight into the intricacies of life and realizes why he did not find much to get exited about.

He conducted three “experiments”. Firstly he looked at what we would call everyday life “all that is done under heaven” but finds it meaningless “a chasing after wind”. He then turned his attention to the understanding of wisdom, but again came to the conclusion that this too is nothing but a chasing after wind. Thirdly, he decided to taste the pleasures of life and did agree that all the things he accomplished gave him some measure of pleasure, but in the long run it came to nothing and is also nothing but a chasing after wind.

The above three “experiments” encompass life. There are the day to day mowing of the lawn, vacuuming the house and the car that needs a service again. It also includes our longing for something like art, music and books and the desire to understand the world around us. The third place refers to our leisure time, sport, having a braai with friends and the hobbies we enjoy. If we look at this list do we agree with the Teacher that it is all totally meaningless? No!

When we read a bit more we find that in the last chapter everything starts to fall into place. In verse 13 we read: “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole (duty) of man.” That is what is really asked from us. Whatever we do in life is meaningless if God is not in the centre of our lives. When He is the pivot around which our lives turn we do not chase after wind but have a meaningful life.

Prayer: We thank you that life is not really meaningless. Thank you for beautiful music, good health, the ability to do sport and the enjoyment of good food. Thank you for giving meaning to what would have been an aimless existence. Amen

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