12 And further, my son, be admonished by these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh. 13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. (Ecclesiastes 12:12–13, NKJV)
As you see from the above notation, this is the 1200th Sword Tip. Seeing that number reminded me of today’s passage. People will always write books. And, people will continue to read and study them. Yet, making intellectual pursuit the goal of one’s life “is grasping for the wind,” as Solomon explained in Ecclesiastes 1:17-18. God’s word, the Bible, is complete; it will not be added to by God, and it cannot be improved upon by human wisdom (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Jude 3; Revelation 22:18-19). Bible study is essential. But, Bible study is not an end in itself. Reading and knowing God’s word is vanity, unless we “fear God and keep His commandments” (verse 13). That is the purpose of life. The Bible teaches us why to fear God and how to obey Him. This is why we read, learn and study the Bible – so that we may live reverently, obey God completely, and thereby, fulfill our God-given purpose. By God’s good grace, may that ever be the purpose that drives our lives (2 Peter 3:17-18).
27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ (Acts 17:27–28, NKJV)
The God who was unknown to the Athenian philosophers, and to many still, is a purposeful God. He rules this world, not to oppress, but to bless, so that we will seek Him and find Him. We have been created for this very purpose. Solomon said our duty, and a fulfilled life is summed up in this: to fear God and keep His commandments (Eccl. 12:13). God is not inaccessible to us; He is as near as the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat. Proof of His presence is everywhere in this world. Indeed, He is as near as His inspired word, which records His will for us (2 Tim. 3:16-17). His Scriptures teach us how to seek Him and find Him through His Son, Jesus Christ (Matt. 11:28-30). Truly, “He has put eternity” in our hearts (Eccl. 3:11). The desire to know God compels us to find Him where He may be found; but not in the images of art that depict mythical gods. This is self-evident, since “we are also His offspring.”
38 “So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.” (Acts 5:38–39, NASB)
Rabbi Gamaliel gave sound advice to the Jewish council members, some of whom “plotted to kill” the apostles (Acts 5:33). We never win when we fight against the purposes of God – we always lose. As Jesus told Saul during His appearance to him on the road to Damascus, “It is hard for you to kick against the goads” (Acts 9:5). Yet, people still fight against God’s word, His truth and His purposes. For example, Christ said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mk. 16:16). But, many reply, “He who believes is saved and will be baptized.” Again, God said, “you have fallen from grace” (Gal. 5:4). But many say, “you cannot fall from grace.” And again, God said, “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (Jas. 2:24). Yet, many say one is justified by “faith only.” Sadly, all these fight against God. It is a losing battle. Stand with God and His word, and do not “be found fighting against God.”
To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: (Ecclesiastes 3:1, NKJV)
Divine Providence has arranged life on earth with its own symmetry. Life and death, planting and harvest, weeping and laughter all illustrate the portion and occasion of things “under the sun.” Yet, acknowledging life’s symmetry (and at times, its paradoxes) does not give ultimate satisfaction or meaning to life. “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end” (Eccl. 3:11). Only by trusting the purposes of God and submitting obediently to Him will one ascend to the ultimate purpose and meaning of life which God has given us (Eccl. 12:13).
8 All things are full of labor; Man cannot express it. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, Nor the ear filled with hearing. 9 That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun. 10 Is there anything of which it may be said, “See, this is new”? It has already been in ancient times before us. (Ecclesiastes 1:8-10)
The old adage rings true, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Life “under the sun” brings nothing that is truly new. Human beings have benefited from labor since the beginning of the creation, yet it is obvious that labor does not satisfy every longing of the heart. This is not said to discount labor, but to emphasize that expecting to meet all of one’s desires through labor is unrealistic. There remains a yearning for something more – to know more, to be more – that labor does not fill. The purpose of your life and the satisfaction for which you yearn will be found when you fear God and keep His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13).