The Teacher’s Conclusion
Open Your Bible
Ecclesiastes 12:1-14, Proverbs 22:17-21, John 11:25-26
BY Jessica Lamb
My second child recently turned seven months old. Though I experienced these same developmental milestones with my first, something about this second time around has left me even more in awe of how quickly babies grow and change. In his first few days, my son could only hold up his head for seconds at a time. When he came home from the hospital, he could only see about fifteen inches away, just far enough to make out my face as I held him and stared at his tiny features. He can now see me clearly from across the room and crawl toward me as fast as his not-so-tiny legs can move.
I sometimes wonder if that’s one of the reasons he cries on occasion, even when every need I can think of is met. Because today, his world looks totally different than it did yesterday. The whole world is open for discovery, but that growth meant a sharp change in perspective.
I imagined that sort of cry at the end of our reading today. The author of Ecclesiastes has been writing at length about life “under the sun.” A life where delight fades, strong men stoop, songs grow faint, and dust returns. A life where so much is “absolute futility.” Then, in the last few verses, there are these words:
Be warned: there is no end to the making of many books, and much study wearies the body.
When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is this:
fear God and keep his commands, because this is for all humanity.
For God will bring every act to judgment, including every hidden thing,
whether good or evil (Ecclesiastes 12:12–14).
For almost the entirety of my professional career I have worked in publishing, and I always want to voice a hearty “Amen!” at verse 12. There is no end to the making of books, to writers and philosophers and poets and politicians and artists and parishioners trying to make sense of our place as humans in this world. But the path to seeing our days differently is made clear here, because there is more to see than we once thought. For every single one of us, the key to meaning is the same: fear God, and keep His commands.
This is for all of us, because God is for all of us. He is our Creator, whose eyes saw us while we were still being formed (Psalm 139). He is our Sustainer, who knows when a single sparrow falls, clothes the flowers of the field, and anticipates our needs and worries (Matthew 6:25–34;10:29–31; 1Peter 5:7). He is our Savior, who invites us to follow Him and be part of His kingdom work here and now. His Word equips us to see our world through His perspective, and recast all our days in light of eternity.
So remember your Creator, find your confidence in the Lord. He is the resurrection, He is the life. This is for all of us, if we’ll just take hold and believe it.