The book of Ecclesiastes is a fascinating book. It is full of rich imagery, quotable sections, and is overall a wise sage’s reflection on life. This sage, known as “The Preacher” hopes to impart wisdom to his listeners. He speaks of the timeliness of all of life’s various moments. He warns against vanity and riches. The Preacher is a sober voice guiding whomever would heed his wisdom that life is more than these fleeting moments, and that every act must be accomplished with God in mind.
Though Ecclesiastes’ wisdom sayings can often lead to many puzzling moments and reflections, the Preacher does not leave his readers in the dark. He warns and advises with these words, “The end of the matter, all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 ESV).
What do we learn from the Preacher? We are given, in many ways, a prologue to the rest of the Bible. In Ecclesiastes we learn of the danger of vanity or emptiness of the fleeting moments of life, and instead are drawn in to consider God and our relationship to Him. We do not exist for simple celebration. We exist to fear God and keep His commandments. In other words, we are called to love Him.
Why are we called to love God? He is our Creator, and in Christ Jesus, He is our Savior. We owe our very lives to Him. He created us in His image (Genesis 1:27). We have not been made for ourselves, but to glorify Him. In fact, we are most truly human when we are glorifying God by our actions. We are called to love God.
When Jesus was confronted by a lawyer about the Law, Jesus summarized the matter in these words, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37 ESV) This is what Ecclesiastes was pointing us towards. If we use Jesus’ explanation of the Law and pair it with the Preacher’s wisdom, we might explain Ecclesiastes end goal for humanity in this way: The end of the matter, all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is how you demonstrate your love to Him. This is our most sacred duty, but it is also our great joy.
As we exist to love God, we demonstrate this love by honoring His wishes, which He has given to us in Scripture. Of all the books that claim to speak divine words, it is the Bible alone which is “breathed out by God” and therefore “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. . .” (2 Timothy 3:16 ESV)
But we know that the Word is not merely the Scriptures, but is Jesus Christ Himself. John’s Gospel reveals Christ’s eternally divine existence as the Word when he writes, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1 ESV) We are not merely called to follow rules in a book, we are called to love God the Son. Jesus taught us that He was more than a good teacher or a moral example. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 ESV) Jesus is life itself, and the only means by which we can come to God in peace.
Why do we exist? We exist to join in heaven’s praise of the glorious unveiling of the person and work of the eternal Son, Jesus Christ, who came from heaven to earth so that we might go from earth to heaven. And Christ begins this future in our hearts today by His Spirit. For the Spirit dwells within us, to enable us to honor God’s Word and to be conformed more and more into the image of Christ, the Word of God (cf. Ezekiel 36:27).