13th November 2011
We have been remembering that at times of conflict, when the country has been under attack or when our security is in danger then men and women are willing to fight for our freedom. Some pay the ultimate price in our struggle for freedom. We are greatly indebted to all of them. Much of what we enjoy as a society has been made possible by the sacrifice of these brave people. Our whole country at this time of the year focusses on them in deep gratitude to each one.
All of this pales into insignificance when we consider all that our God has done for us. The writer of Ecclesiastes; thought to be Solomon; has written in sermon form his confusion as to what the purpose of life is all about. I was recently watching a programme by James May about how the universe came into being. The BBC is currently obsessed with our origin and they have a theory which is shared with the majority of modern science. The foundational belief is in the accidental formation of the entire universe. The theory is understandably highlighted by many “don’t knows!” This is understandable because the universe is full of so many mysteries and paradoxes, the problem that modern man has is that he has a somewhat closed mind which comes from his belief that there is no God giving rise to the idea that there must be another logical reason for the existence of the universe. They believe that it has come about by a cosmic catastrophe which has by chance created everything out of nothing. As Christians we appreciate the science but disagree with the basis upon which it is founded. Many scientists (not all by any stretch of the imagination) believe that there is no God and so all that they observe comes from an atheistic basis. The results are therefore very different to those that people of faith come to! People of faith will always attribute all that we see around us to the creating power of God. We will have differing views of issues such as time etc. but the base line is that our understanding of the origins of life is found in God alone. It is certainly not my purpose here to debate these issues but to encourage you as we consider the meaning of life simply to remember our Creator whilst we have breath.
There are really 2 points to what the writer is saying:
Remember your creator whilst you can.
Remember your creator before it is too late.
Remember your creator whilst you can:
The writer tells us in the days of our youth to remember our creator. Youth often brings with it arrogance and pride usually in the form of self-sufficiency, pride and selfishness. In our youth we might feel as if we are infallible but the writer tells us differently. He reminds us that we are created beings and that our Creator is worthy of our remembrance in much the same way as our country’s hero’s deserve the remembrance and thanks of us the beneficiaries of their sacrifice.
We have a greater advantage than the writer did because we have the full revelation of God to draw upon. Solomon if he was the writer had an incomplete understanding of God’s purpose but we know that His eternal plan was for the Lord Jesus Christ who is God the Son to come into the world in order to fight the forces of evil and the power of sin over the lives of His people. Jesus was victorious in His mission! His victory came upon a cross where sin was paid for; for all who will believe. This is what we as Christians are to remember! The writer says that the best time to remember God is in our youth. See how he develops the theme in verses 1-5. He wants his readers to Remember God and so he gives a number of pointers.
o Before days of trouble. Youth has problems but trouble comes as we get on in years.
o Before a time when life has no pleasure left. Normally it is only in old age that people lose the joy of life but illness causes some to be desperate long before then. This simply makes the matter more urgent. We are never sure when life might lose its charm and also when we might lose life. It is therefore imperative that even from youth we must remember our Creator! When we do we will find abundant pleasure in Him.
o Before the brightness becomes dim. One of the disturbing features of old age is macular degeneration. The dimming of the eyes, look around at the reading glasses which are in evidence among us there are a number of us who are on the way to what is being described. It is time to remember God; our glasses should be an aid to remember Him. Our time is coming! Our eyes may be getting dim but one day we shall see Him crystal clear, He will be on that day either our Judge or Saviour.
o Before the storm clouds are constant! Is your life becoming punctuated by hospital visits? When I first came here my hospital record was very slim but now it resembles my figure it is fatter that I would like it to be! One issue or storm may be dealt with only to find that another cloud appears over the horizon. Our medical records also act as a reminder of our fallibility and so should cause us to remember whose hands we are in! Remember your Creator in the doctor’s waiting room, what better place to be reminded of our frailty?
o Whilst you have strength. How many times do you have to admire the view as you come up the hill to the church? Are you feeling ever weaker? Remember Him!!!! When you do you will rise up as youths do and will rise to great heights as do Eagles.
o Whilst you can chew things over. We can tell the age of a person by the length of their teeth. As we get older our gums recede and the teeth become longer and longer until in very old age they become loose and might even fall out. The old grinders become happier with soft food, crunchy apples become less and less attractive. Yet another reminder to Remember Him! When you next buy your tube of sensitive toothpaste remember your Creator.
o Before you are shut indoors. In old age we simply do not want the high life anymore!
o Before your hearing fades. Is pardon or I am sorry I did not hear that part of your regular vocabulary. Remember Him! Every time you have to ask somebody to repeat what they have said remember your Creator!
o Whilst sleep comes easy. Remember Him in the still small and sleepless hours; you have more time to consider His love for you!
o Before you become afraid of even venturing outdoors. Afraid? Just remember Him!
o Before you die and are followed down the street in your funeral cortege! Remember Him before that day comes!!!!
What the writer has been saying in poetic form is; before you are incapable due to old age and circumstances remember your creator! In the spring of life, when the almond tree of life is in blossom and then when life becomes difficult, illustrated by a grasshopper dragging itself along rather that jumping, whilst the desire is there and before you leave this mortal coil; Remember God!! It is politically incorrect these days to be so graphic, but God is not known for His political correctness or by His masking of reality in order to make people feel good which is what political correctness is all about! God is perfectly honest in His word and so He says that we are all heading towards the grave and now is the time to remember God and what He has done for us in Christ Jesus!!! Do you remember Him? It is not just a simple thought or act of remembrance; the writer means that you must come to Him as your Creator in submission to Him as your God and Saviour! Have you????
Remember your Creator before it is too late:
There is coming a day when it will be too late for you to do anything about it. There is no point in the mourners praying for your salvation then! It is too late! You will not have to remember your Creator at that time you will be face to face with Him. This is what the writer goes on to tell us. He simply says “remember Him before the silver cord is severed or the golden bowl is broken, before the pitcher is shattered at the spring or 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.” Poets always amaze me that they get away with gross repetition at times in order to make their point. This is just what the writer does here; just consider the 6 different ways in which he describes your demise.
o A broken silver cord. Life is precious whilst we have it but it is always hanging on a thread. Who knows what might happen even in the next moment. A silver cord might be beautiful to look at but it is rather precarious to hang onto! If you were clinging onto a cliff face and a rescuer offered to drop a silver cord or a climber’s rope to save you which one would you choose? It would be a fool that chose a pretty cord, but our life is held in place by God by what the poet calls a silver cord. He rightly hints at the fragility of it but also the beauty that it has. Our God gives us a beautiful life but it is entirely in His hands and therefore is His to give and His to take. We do not know the time or hour when He will break the cord of life, therefore before that final day: Remember Him!
o A broken golden bowl. This is a beautiful reservoir of provision from God. All that we have and are is given from His good hand. The golden bowl of blessing that He gives is temporal and one day it will be broken. When that takes place, when oxygen no longer feeds your blood supply, when breath no longer takes place and the heart stops pumping forever, when God’s gracious provision of life is taken away; where will you be then? You will be absent from the body and in the presence of your Creator. Will you see Him as judge or Saviour? Please remember Him whilst the golden bowl of provision is still available.
o A shattered pitcher at the well. Our God is the well of all blessing, whether we believe in Him or not. We all come to His well for the provisions of life itself. The greatest thing on offer at this well however is the water of life. Jesus told us that He is the water of life and if we bring the pitcher of our life to Him then He will freely give water that gives eternal life. What that really means is that He is the fount of every blessing, our lives like a terracotta pot are rather fragile, whilst they are intact they will carry God’s blessing but one day they will shatter and no longer be able to take the water of life. It needs to be taken before that day. When is that day? Nobody knows! Therefore as the bible says “this is the day of salvation, this is the day of God’s good grace. This is the day when the water of life is freely available. Take it and drink of the salvation that is offered through Christ alone.
o A broken wheel. The wheel was used to make it possible to draw water. If it was broken it was impossible for a weak person to draw water. We are infinitely weak when it comes to drawing the water of life. We cannot by our own efforts reach down and draw the water of salvation. It took all of the power of God to provide the water and it takes all of His power to deliver it. Our salvation is purely in His hands, we are powerless to do anything about it but we are required to Remember Him before the wheel that delivers the water of life to us is disabled finally!
o Returning to dust. The writer now very cleverly returns to the Creator, we remember from the creation account that we are made from the dust. The promise of the fall is that we will return to the dust and therefore will be buried. The Creator God requires that we remember Him before that day because then our spirit which He created will return to Him. At this point it will either be as His friend or as unknown to Him. His friends will have a home prepared for them, those who He does not know will be sent away for eternal punishment because their sin has not been dealt with and there is no place in God’s presence for sin! He gave life, we sinned by our own free will and so God sent His Son to pay the price of the sins of all who Remember Him. How do we remember? By repentance which brings forgiveness and all of the blessings that we have been speaking of.
What must you do?
Repent and believe in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and then you will be saved.