Monday, July 02, 2012

Youth, remember God

Ecclesiastes 12:1-7 1 Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; 2 While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain: 3 In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened, 4 And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low; 5 Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets: 6 Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. 7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.

In beautiful figurative language, Solomon expresses to the youth what some of us are learning by experience. The body, like a pendulum, gradually loses its force and life comes to a halt. Let us all, especially the youth, use this wisdom to guide us in the way we should go.

Sin is a reality. The bulk of the figurative description is the first section of Ecclesiastes 12 describes the frailty of the body -- the body ravaged by age, which is the effect of sin. God made Adam and Eve and placed them in the world He had made -- the world that was good. By Adam sin entered the world, with it and all the groaning and travailing of all creation, including our bodies. Eyesight begins to fail; the legs, arms and back go out; ears do not hear; teeth wear and rot and fall out; the body does not sleep; perhaps interest in life itself dissipates and flies away. Sin entered the world, and death by sin (Gen 2:17; Rom 5:12). Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

Death is a certainty. The Bible makes this clear, as does our experience. There is "a time do die" (Eccl. 3:2). There is one event to the righteous and to the him that sacrificeth and to him that sacrificeth not -- they shall die (Eccl. 9:1-6). An old Latin proverb says, "Death is certain, life is not." Ecclesiastes 9:1-12 is a vivid illustration of that. Oh, so many seem so certain in life and of life, but we know not what a day brings forth. It is appointed unto men once to die.

Youth is an opportunity. With this reality of sin and this certainty of death, remember now thy Creator -- in the days of thy youth. George Bernard Shaw, "Youth is wasted on the young." Some of us middle-aged to older folks readily jump on that bandwagon, thinking how the youth may have strength and zeal without knowledge. As well he might have said, "Old age is wasted on the old," for we with knowledge are losing our strength and zeal (and our teeth and our eyesight and our hearing!). Biblically, each season of life has its place in God's design (David said, I have been young and now I am old). Here Solomon points us to that fall season before the silver cord is loosed and the dust returns to the earth. The living know that they shall die. Often we don't live according to that knowledge. The simple truth of Ecclesiastes 12 is to live like you know your going to die. The nuanced truth is that if you are young, take it to heart and don't wait until you get old to remember God. Psalm 90:12 ...teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

While in the tender years of youth,
In nature's smiling bloom,
Ere age arrive, and trembling wait
It summons to the tomb:--
Remember thy Creator, God;
For him thy powers employ;
Make him thy fear, thy love, thy hope
Thy portion, and thy joy. (Thomas Gibbons)

Death does not affect all men in the same way, but it affects all men. How will it affect you, my friend?

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