Ecclesiastes 12:9-14

Read Ecclesiastes 12:9-14
If you need encouragement, Ecclesiastes may not be the first place you go. I mean, walk through the book with me:

  • Chapter 1 Everything is meaningless
  • Chapter 2-10 Life is hard, then you die. 
  • Chapter 11-12 God is good and just.

This is a bit of an oversimplification, but you get the idea. Solomon, who wrote Ecclesiastes is a realist. While he says hard things about the reality of life, nothing he says is untrue. Life is hard, we toil and work and sometimes don’t get to see the fruit of things. Sometimes folks die too young, at least from our perspective. Solomon concludes all this realism with the statement: ‘Fear God and keep his commandments.’ Today I want to focus on what it means to fear God.
What does it even mean to fear God? How do we couple fearing God with the apostle Paul telling us that we can call God ‘Abba’ or ‘Father’? But we also see in Scripture those who encountered God face to face were literally scared to death. When Isaiah encounters God, his first words are ‘I am ruined.’ John in Revelation 1 falls at Christ’s feet ‘as though dead’. These are the actions of legitimate fear, so we have to understand that the God of the universe, the maker of heaven and earth is to be feared, literally. At the same time, we can call this same God, ‘Father.’ Yes, there is a holy tension between God being our ‘Father’ in a very intimate way, and at the same time God and his power can give legitimate fear.
I had a good father growing up, not a perfect one, but a good one. I know not everyone was so privileged to grow up with a good father. One night during my high school years, I came home very late from work and was headed upstairs to bed. I had come through a door in the house that we typically didn’t use, and it was dark, and my work attire was black.  As I turned the corner to head upstairs, I suddenly was pinned against the wall, a massive arm in my throat, and all I could see was my father’s face and a short wooden baton he kept by his bed. I began gasping for words, short raspy breaths of ‘Dad, Dad, it’s me’. My dad was convinced that someone was headed upstairs to harm his children. My father was worthy of my fear. But that same father, when I had hurt him so deeply one evening with my words, sat on my bed crying as he reassured me that all was forgiven. Which one was my true father? The one to be feared if you hurt his kids, or the one who was full of forgiveness when I had wronged him deeply? Which one is God? Yes. Our Father in Heaven is worthy of fear and at the same time is tender, compassionate and full of grace.
David Flug | Community Life Pastor

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