Ecclesiastes 12:1-8

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, July 6, 2020 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

We’ve made it to the last chapter of the book of Ecclesiastes! It’s been quite a ride, but we still have a couple more posts to go on this amazing book. It is believed that the Teacher (likely King Solomon) wrote this book toward the end of his life as a culmination of all his wisdom, and in this section of Ecclesiastes 12:1-8, he turns his focus to old age and the frustrations that come with it.

While this section contains many metaphors and descriptions of old age, it starts out in verse 1 with a very simple statement: “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, ‘I find no pleasure in them.’” Whether you’re young or old as you read this, it’s clear that the thrill and energy of youth will waste away as we get older. Compared to when the Teacher first wrote this, many people today are able to remain energetic in their old age thanks to modern medicine and our modern ways of living. But the body will still start to have physical difficulties as we age, and our energy will decline at least to some extent.

What does the Teacher mean by saying “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth”? Some who are young may want to delay putting their faith in God until they’re old since they feel like they don’t need it now. Many teenagers go through a spell of thinking they know everything, so why would they need God? Why would they need to remember the One who created them, when they can do everything themselves? That mentality is exactly what the Teacher is warning against. We need to remember God, our Creator, at EVERY age of life, not just when we’re old and feel like we’ll be closer to meeting Him face-to-face. The reality is that life is uncertain and people can be suddenly taken from this life at any time, so we always need to remember God and strive to live out our faith in this life, no matter our age.

Verse 2 reminds us of the rhythms of life: “Before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark, and the clouds return after the rain.” We see the rhythm of each day with the sun and the moon, and the rhythms of seasons with the sun and light of spring and summer giving way to the cloudiness of fall and winter. The days come and go, and the seasons come and go, and we continue to age in these physical bodies. We need to remember that God our Creator remains the same through it all.

We see metaphors of the body’s decay in verses 3-4: “When the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men stoop, when the grinders cease because they are few, and those looking through the windows grow dim; when the doors to the street are closed and the sound of grinding fades; when people rise up at the sound of birds, but all their songs grow faint.” Our strength will gradually leave. Our limbs may begin to tremble as they don’t work as well anymore. Our eyesight may get worse. We will be physically capable of doing less work when we’re old than in our youth. Our hearing may get worse. We will be stuck inside our bodies that can’t do as much as they once did. We may get less sleep at night as we rise early with the birds. Our own voices may get softer and more labored. Basically, every aspect of the body may deteriorate in some way.

Verse 5 deals with fears that we succumb to more as we get older: “When people are afraid of heights and of dangers in the streets; when the almond tree blossoms and the grasshopper drags itself along and desire no longer is stirred. Then people go to their eternal home and mourners go about the streets.” We may have no fear during our young years, but those fears develop as we get older and have more life experience, and potentially see our friends experience these dangers in life. The almond tree blooming represents the white hair of old age, as in that geographic area, its blossoms have white tips. The grasshopper dragging itself represents the difficulty we’ll experience in moving around as we get older. We may have less desire to do the things we once did. After all this decay of our bodies, the reality is that we’ll die and go to our eternal homes.

Verses 6-7 go back to the theme of remembering our Creator from verse 1: “Remember him—before the silver cord is severed, and the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, and the wheel broken at the well, and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” We need to continue to remember the God who created us while we are young and before we get old, and before everything in our bodies starts breaking down and no longer working well. The fact of the matter is that these physical bodies will die, whether we experience a long or a short life here on earth. This references back to the words of God to Adam in Genesis 3:19: “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

The familiar refrain concludes this section in verse 8: “‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Everything is meaningless!’” The Teacher has reminded all people, especially those who are young, to make the most of their lives while they’re young, and to remember that God gave us our lives so we’re accountable to Him for them. One day, all of this will stop for us as we experience physical death, which appears to be a meaningless end to this life.

But is our death really meaningless? We need to remember that when the Teacher wrote the book of Ecclesiastes, it was before the time of the promised Savior Jesus coming into the world. He knew of this future promise but it had not yet been fulfilled. For us, that promise has already been fulfilled. Jesus, the Son of God, came into this world to live a perfect life and to die a horrible death so that we could be reconciled to God. While the world we live in is still sinful and everything will decay, physical death is not the end for those of us who believe in Jesus! We will be able to live eternally with God in heaven.

The question for us is, are you making sure your life here on earth is not meaningless? Are you living out the plan that God has for you and living your life to glorify Him and do the work that He has given you before your body decays? Are you constantly remembering your Creator and what He created you to do? If so, then your life is not meaningless, and your physical death will not be meaningless either, as you’ll get to spend eternity praising and worshiping God with all that you are.

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