The conclusion, when everything has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments
Ecclesiastes 11-12 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you will find it after many days. 2 Divide your portion to seven, or even to eight, for you do not know what misfortune may occur on the earth. 3 If the clouds are full, they pour out rain on the earth; and whether a tree falls toward the south or toward the north, wherever the tree falls, there it lies. 4 One who watches the wind will not sow and one who looks at the clouds will not harvest. 5 Just as you do not know the path of the wind, and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes everything.
6 Sow your seed in the morning and do not be idle in the evening, for you do not know whether one or the other will succeed, or whether both of them alike will be good.
7 The light is pleasant, and it is good for the eyes to see the sun. 8 Indeed, if a person lives many years, let him rejoice in them all; but let him remember the days of darkness, for they will be many. Everything that is to come will be futility.
9 Rejoice, young man, during your childhood, and let your heart be pleasant during the days of young manhood. And follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes. Yet know that God will bring you to judgment for all these things. 10 So remove sorrow from your heart and keep pain away from your body, because childhood and the prime of life are fleeting.
12 Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years approach when you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; 2 before the sun and the light, the moon and the stars are darkened, and clouds return after the rain; 3 on the day that the watchmen of the house tremble, and strong men are bent over, the grinders stop working because they are few, and those who look through windows grow dim; 4 and the doors on the street are shut as the sound of the grinding mill is low, and one will arise at the sound of the bird, and all the daughters of song will sing softly. 5 Furthermore, people are afraid of a high place and of terrors on the road; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and the caper berry is ineffective. For man goes to his eternal home while the mourners move around in the street. 6 Remember your Creator before the silver cord is broken and the golden bowl is crushed, the pitcher by the spring is shattered and the wheel at the cistern is crushed; 7 then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it. 8 “Futility of futilities,” says the Preacher, “all is futility!”
9 In addition to being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge; and he pondered, searched out, and arranged many proverbs. 10 The Preacher sought to find delightful words and to write words of truth correctly.
11 The words of the wise are like goads, and masters of these collections are like driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd. 12 But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive study is wearying to the body.
13 The conclusion, when everything has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. 14 For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.
The writer of Ecclesiastes began in chapter 1 saying: The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. “Futility of futilities,” says the Preacher, “Futility of futilities! All is futility.” What advantage does a person have in all his work Which he does under the sun? A generation goes and a generation comes, But the earth remains forever. Also, the sun rises and the sun sets; And hurrying to its place it rises there again. Blowing toward the south, Then turning toward the north, The wind continues swirling along; And on its circular courses the wind returns. All the rivers flow into the sea, Yet the sea is not full. To the place where the rivers flow, There they flow again. All things are wearisome; No one can tell it. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, Nor is the ear filled with hearing. What has been, it is what will be, And what has been done, it is what will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one might say, “See this, it is new”? It has already existed for ages Which were before us. There is no remembrance of the earlier things, And of the later things as well, which will occur, There will be no remembrance of them Among those who will come later still. He ends his dissertation in today’s text saying: The conclusion, when everything has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil. In Matthew 6:19-21 Jesus sums it up saying: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Anything and everything that we do on earth is futile if it is not also focused on heavenly things. This life is limited to a finite time. God has ordained each of us a number of days. When we are gone from here, all that we accomplished and all that we accumulated will be left for others. Only what we do for the kingdom of heaven will remain.
The writer says: Sow your seed in the morning and do not be idle in the evening, for you do not know whether one or the other will succeed, or whether both of them alike will be good. In John 12:24-25 Jesus says: “Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. The one who loves his life loses it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it to eternal life.” In Mark 8:36 Jesus says: “What does it benefit a person to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” The focus of our lives should not be on what we can gain. Rather, dying to self, morning and evening, day by day our lives should be focused on bearing fruit for the kingdom of God, sowing the seed of His word and doing the things He has called us to. In Isaiah 55:8-11 God says: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways, For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it produce and sprout, And providing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes out of My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the purpose for which I sent it.” In the end, God’s will will be done. His plan will be fully accomplished according to His intention.
Jesus taught us to pray saying: ‘Our Father, who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.’ We are to be those who not only pray in agreement with God’s will for the earth, but rather we are to be part of the answer to Jesus prayer, bringing the realities of heaven to earth. From Genesis to Revelation, God’s word reveals His will and His plan. What we choose to do cannot and will not change the outcome. If we choose wisely though, if we focus on heavenly outcomes, our lives can be part of God’s eternal story.
Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.