‘Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth’ (Ecclesiastes.12:1)
‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’ (Genesis 1:1)
‘For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Roman 3:23)
“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23)
‘Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus’ (Romans 3:24)
‘Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved’ (Romans 10:12)
Remembering Our Creator
The writer and teacher of the Bible book of Ecclesiastes gives wise counsel to young people: ‘Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth’ (12:1). He does so with good reasons for it is in the vigour of youth, when the mind is active and the body strong, that life can really be enjoyed. Youth is a time of energy, ambitions and dreams. It is in youth that we look forward and not back. It is the period of life when we are free from the burdens and regrets that come with later years. It is the stage in life when we form character, discover who we are, and seek to find our place in the world. And perhaps most importantly, it is the season when we make life changing choices and decisions that will set our course for the coming years.
The teacher reminds us that it is great thing to be alive: 'Truly the light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to behold the sun' (11:7), but he also balances this by cautioning that life is temporary, even if lived to the full in years and happiness, compared to the many 'days of darkness' that each of us must face (11:8). By this descriptive term, 'days of darkness,' he is referring to the coldness of death when we will be robbed of the vitality of life and no longer enjoy the light and heat of the sun. These days shall be many as opposed to the brevity of life which by comparison to death and eternity, is but a passing shadow (Job 14:1-2).
Moreover, while the years of youthful vigour are a great period in life, they do carry the potential for either wisdom or folly. Unfortunately being sinful, we are naturally bias toward the latter and it is so easy, and all too evident in our world, to abandon all moral restraint and pursue a life of self indulgence and sinful pleasure. Therefore the wise teacher of Ecclesiastes warns:
Rejoice, O young man, in your youth,
And let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth;
Walk in the ways of your heart,
And in the sight of your eyes;
But know that for all these
God will bring you into judgment (11:9).
In other words he is saying that there will be consequences if instead of following the path of wisdom and enjoying God and the things he has given to us, we go the way of folly and live according to the dictates and lusts of our fallen nature. What then will preserve and prevent an individual from sin and going the way of folly? And what will motivate and enable someone to do what's right and follow the path of righteousness? The teacher gives the answer:
Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth,
Before the difficult days come,
And the years draw near when you say,
“I have no pleasure in them” (12:1).
God is our Creator and to Him we are accountable and because He is our Creator He is also our judge. Having the fear of the Lord in one's heart and living in the awareness of who He is will lead us along the path of wisdom (12:13-14; Prov 9:10), preserve us from the madness of self indulgence and a reckless lifestyle, so common to youth, and spare us the barren existence and bitter regrets of old age which the teacher refers to as 'the difficult days' that will come, the end of years in which there will be 'no pleasure.'
Of course, the big question in the minds of many young people today is, "Does God exist?" This continues to be a frequently asked, and an often debated question in our time. From the nineteenth century onwards with the help of Charles Darwin God's existence has been increasingly called into question and absolutely rejected by many. The issue is neither trivial nor irrelevant. The existence or non-existence of God as Creator is not just one more thing for us to consider among a whole range of issues. No, it is thee thing, the ultimate of all subjects that defines the very nature of reality and determines the meaning and purpose of life. But how can we sure that God is, or is not there? Well, science won't settle this issue one way or the other. It can neither prove or disprove God. Don't be fooled by the bold assumptions of evolutionary scientists or atheistic philosophers who make unproven claims regarding origins and thus assume - no God. It has been abundantly demonstrated in the case of macroevolution (macroevolution is the evolution of change that is claimed to have occurred between different species and microevolution is change within species of the same kind) that if a theory is expounded and propagated as the truth long enough, people will eventually believe it to be true. And, yes 'believe' is an appropriate word to use because faith is absolutely part of this whole debate. Those who believe the Bible are accused of using faith in God as a crutch for their own ignorance and superstition. What they don't know or can't explain they fill in by a 'God of the gaps,' but the reality is that faith is as much a part of an evolutionary worldview as a Biblical worldview. You either believe the word of men or the word of God.
Identifying our Creator
The opening words of the Bible state: ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’ (Genesis 1:1). Immediately the reader is introduced to the reality and identity of the Creator. There are no formal introductions or complicated explanations, just a plain and powerful affirmation that God is the source and sovereign of the universe. Genesis chapter one summarizes the manner, in which God through the power of His word created, shaped and filled the heavens and the earth. It is important to recognize that the Bible is specific revelation and that the creation record of Genesis was written, against a cultural background of polytheism (the belief in many gods), to show first and foremost to Israel, for whom the Pentateuch (First five books of the Bible) was written, that the Lord God whose power and glory they had experienced, is the only true and living God.
But of course, we are told that the historical record of scripture is not true by the same folk who tell us that the world came into existence billions of years ago through a cosmic explosion and the collision of matter that gradually formed into the universe and from which came some primitive form of life that evolved over a period of more than three billion years into all the myriad forms of life that we see in the world today. Which do you believe?
At the centre of God's creation is humankind who He uniquely made in His image, male and female (Genesis 1:26-27), and distinct from all other created order endowing them with the ability to enjoy personal relationship with Himself. Yet, the sad fact is, that sin marred the divine intention and through disobedience Adam abandoned the moral authority of His Creator and became a transgressor against His law (Genesis 2:16-17; 3:1-7). He not only fell himself from his place with God along with his wife, but he alienated the entire human race from God because of sin (Romans 5:12). The divine verdict concerning all people is: ‘For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Roman 3:23). This is why the teacher of Ecclesiastes calls upon us to remember our Creator in the early years of life; we instinctively and wilfully forget God and if we don't remember Him when we are young, it is less likely that we will when we are older.
Knowing our Creator
A transcendent Creator may seem remote, distant, and even elusive from where we are today. In a broken world, where cultures and nations are so often alienated from each other, how is it possible to relate to an infinite God? And how is this God relevant to the lives of men and women in the twenty first century? Many believe that the message of the Bible is out of date and that modern man has advanced beyond the remnants of religion to a place of enlightenment and independence; but has he? No doubt the human race has made remarkable strides in science and technology for which we can be grateful, but morally, we are no different than the generations of previous centuries; humans are still killing each other. Indeed we have so progressed in this realm that in the world of ‘virtual reality,' developed to a remarkable degree by technology, it is considered entertainment to watch and participate in horror, vice and murder. 'Decent people' would not think of indulging in such practice in 'real life,' like the many sinners that do, but the truth is, whether in fiction or fact we freely demonstrate, and gratify the base instincts of a depraved nature. Such is the continuing story of man without God.
What hope is there for us? How can we be delivered from the power of sin and its consequences? What future is there in a world so evidently broken and fraying at the edges?
Hope is found in the one who bore the great name ‘Immanuel’, which means ‘God with us’ (Matt 1:23). This is the true identity of the man who was called Jesus. The record of His birth, life and death show that He really was God with man. Indeed, the Bible makes it clear that God created all things through His Son, the Lord Jesus (John 1:3; Colossians 1:15-17) so in a very real sense the Creator walked on earth as a man. That's why He could calm a storm on the sea of Galilee and walk on its surface without sinking (Matt 8:23-27; 14:22-33), or change water into wine (John 2:1-12), or multiply five barley loves and two fish to feed thousands of people (John 6:1-15). He made these things originally and had authority over them as the Creator. But God’s way of saving men and reconciling them to Himself took more than just displays of miraculous power; it took a Cross. He sent His Son to die upon the Cross as a sacrifice for our sins. This is what the Lord Jesus did and His death was necessary to satisfy the infinite justice of God. However, the good news of the gospel is that His infinite justice is balanced by His infinite love and that is why the Lord Jesus died upon the Cross. He was answering to God for our sins and yet at the same time displaying God’s love toward us (Romans 5:8). The resurrection of the Lord Jesus from death guarantees that sin, the source of all man’s problems, has been dealt with and a present and future salvation from its consequences can be experienced by all. The simple terms of God’s way of salvation are repentance from sin and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot earn or merit God’s favour, rather He will save us by grace and because of what the Lord Jesus has accomplished on the Cross - ‘Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus’ (Romans 3:24).
Remembering our Creator in light of New Testament revelation is to know God through His Son and only Saviour, the Lord Jesus. Knowing God through Christ not only saves us for eternity, but will preserve us in time from the folly of sin for which God will bring men 'into judgment.'
While the wise teacher particularly appeals to youth, it is never too late, no matter what age we are, to remember our Creator. Maybe you are now at the latter end of life and living with bitter regrets and the emptiness of a life without God? Stop today and look up, for the God who made us is neither distant from us or deaf to us; He hears the call of all who appeal to Him for salvation, young and old: ‘Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved’ (Romans 10:12).