Remembering the Creator in Youth
December 18, 2016 / No. 3859
Dear Radio Friends,
Fear God and keep His commandments: this is the whole duty of man. This is the duty of the old, of the middle aged, and of the young. We must fear God and keep His commandments. No one is exempt from this. No one has an excuse not to do this. We say this, of course, because it is often thought and even verbalized that a young person must be allowed to “sow his wild oats” before settling down into mature living. Nowhere does the Bible teach this. Nowhere does the Bible even allow for this. Young men are called to be upright in their heart and in their walk. Notice Ecclesiastes 11:9, 10: “Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment. Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh: for childhood and youth are vanity.” In the day of judgment God is not going to say, “I will excuse those sins you committed in youth, because, after all, you were young and foolish.” The passage we focus on today, therefore, is appropriate for those who are presently young men in the church. We are going to take a close look at Ecclesiastes 12:1, which reads, “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.” The Bible indeed has much to say to young men, as is evident from Solomon’s writings both in Proverbs and here in Ecclesiastes. So, we will direct our attention to the youth of the church.
This passage of God’s Word addresses young men who fear God. In our series of broadcasts on the upright man, we too address men who love and fear God. This is a word of warning to those in the church who may be rebellious and who walk in unbelief. But it is indeed a word of God written for the benefit of believing young men. In our last broadcast we established what is true of a man by virtue of his creation: he was created to have dominion over the works of God’s hands. This does not become true of man when he is old and wise. It is true of a young man too. Already in his youth a man must learn to exercise dominion in the service of his Creator and Lord. In fact, youth is a training ground for such activity. And parents must keep this in mind when instructing young men too. When a son reaches that stage in his development, parents need to recognize this and allow their son to start making decisions too. It is a slow process that needs much guidance along the way, but a young man must be nurtured, so that he might properly become a leader in home, church, and work.
REMEMBER THE CREATOR IN YOUTH
The injunction of our text is that we remember our Creator. But this injunction is given very specifically to a certain age of people. Solomon does not intend to admonish everyone to remember their Creator, even though everyone must. Solomon addresses the youth of the church. Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth. The word translated youth here denotes a young man who is not married but has reached an age where he is maturing into an adult. Solomon addresses young people who have reached the age of life between childhood and full adulthood. Just because in Solomon’s day this age was not defined as adolescence, or the age of puberty, or the teenage years, does not mean that God’s people did not know of this stage of life. Solomon reveals by the term “youth” that he is fully aware that a child slowly develops into adulthood over a number of years. This is the time of youth. And the admonition of God’s Word here is that the youth of the church must remember their Creator during this period of their lives. So, God’s Word addresses young people and in particular the young men of the church. Just as we addressed the place of single women in the church, we also now address the calling of single men in the church, and in particular young single men.
That the youth are addressed by God’s Word here is also evident from the rest of this verse we consider. Notice: Remember your Creator “while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.” What God’s Word means by this is not difficult to understand. Young men are filled with the strength of youth. But there will come another season in their life when the weaknesses of mind and body will catch up with them. They slowly but surely will grow old. This is the way of all flesh. And those days, young men, will come upon you sooner than you think. Right now, you take little thought about ebbing strength. You feel like you can conquer the world. But life is no more than a fleeting breath, and soon enough you will begin to experience the aches and pains of life. Physically, you will no longer have the vigor and stamina that you have now. Mentally, your ability to memorize and recall facts will slow down. These are the evil days to which Solomon refers. Literally, they are troublesome and uncomfortable days. Of these infirmities you will say: I have no pleasure in them. How often we hear that of elderly saints. When they visit with one another, they talk about their ailments. Where are my reading glasses? I cannot seem to read anymore without them! What is that you are saying? Repeat it, I cannot hear you so well! I’m so stiff when I wake up in the morning! It takes a while to get going. I have to read a paragraph over several times, it seems, before I can catch the drift of it! All this and more we hear from old saints. Those evil days draw nigh, young men. And we smile when we hear of this concerning those who are older, but soon you will be saying, “I have no pleasure in these evil days!”
In those days, however troublesome they may be, the believer begins to understand the frailty of human life. As a result, he also becomes wise to the vanity of life in this world, the fleeting nature of life. Man is not so super human as all the movies today depict him to be. His life is but a handbreath in length. Soon man shrivels up and he dies. The believer reacts to this in the knowledge that a better life awaits him in heaven where he will never die. And where he will run and never grow weary and walk and not faint. A young man does not think about this very much. He is too busy with life. He thinks that a long life awaits him. He can worry about the things of heaven later on in life. There are too many important things in my life here and now, to think about my Creator. This Word of God comes to you, young men.
The reason it comes to young men is twofold, according to Scripture. First of all, because of the strength of youth. Young men are strong—strong from a physical and mental point of view. The apostle John speaks of this strength of youth in his epistle (I John 2:13, 14). But he is not speaking of young men in general. John addresses believing young men of the church. The Word of God abides in you, John tells us. You have overcome the wicked one. To you, young believing men, belongs salvation. God has worked in your hearts by His grace and Spirit. Jesus Christ has overcome for you the power and dominion of sin. But more, He has overcome the dominion of the wicked one, that is, Satan himself. In that strength , God’s Word now addresses you here in Ecclesiastes 12. The admonition of our text does not fall upon deaf ears. It falls upon the ears of those in whom Jesus Christ has worked salvation. Solomon does not call into question your salvation when he admonishes you. On the contrary, he appeals to your faith that has come with your new creation in Christ. The strength you have is the strength that Christ has worked in you. The strength you have is the strength of Christ. And you are able to use that strength in mighty ways in your lives and in the church. That, then, in the first place, is a reason God addresses you, young men.
In the second place, you are admonished in Ecclesiastes 11:10 that childhood and youth are vanity. This does not contradict what we have just said about youth. Believing young men are strong. They have the Word of God guiding them. But they also have a sinful flesh in them. Because wisdom and discretion have not yet been learned, that flesh can oftentimes deceive them. As I said, when the evil days are come upon a person, he learns that life is fleeting and empty. This in turn teaches one wisdom. This is why the men who are called to rule the church are generally older men. They have gained a certain measure of wisdom through the experiences of life. Young men have not learned from experience. It is easy for their flesh to convince them that they will not confront God for a long time yet. When I am older I will turn from my sinful ways.
This is why Solomon says childhood and youth are vanity. At this age we are not so spiritually attuned to sin or what sin is in our lives. We are so apt, in the foolishness of youth, to forget God and His judgment and to follow the desires of our flesh. Once in a while God reminds young men that a person does not have to be old to die. Young men can have cancer. Young men can suddenly die of a heart condition of which doctors were unaware. Young men can in their foolishness die because of drunkenness or daredevil feats that they do not take time to think about. But even without these harsh reminders, there is one outstanding truth that ought to stand out to a young person: God at all times sees and knows what we do. We cannot escape the eyes of God. He knows our every thought, word, and action. When parents do not see, God does—and for these deeds every man will be brought into judgment.
It is for this reason, too, God gives to young men of the church this command: remember now your Creator in the days of your youth! It is striking that the admonition of this passage says to remember thy Creator. Solomon does not say, “Remember thy God.” He specifically points to the fact that God is Creator. Solomon does this because this name points out that God is almighty and sovereign in His rule over all the creatures of His hand. The Scriptures in a couple of different places liken God to a potter, that is, one who makes pottery. The potter takes a lump of clay and forms it into anything he chooses. So God with man. God forms each man into exactly the kind of vessel He has chosen for him. Why? Because God is the sovereign Creator who has made everything according to His own will and desire. Every creature of God’s hand is but a piece of pottery made specifically by God to fulfill His will. Man is no exception. Paul tells us in Romans 9 that God has made some men as vessels fitted unto destruction and others as recipients of God’s mercy. The point is: God is Creator. He has a right and He has the power to do what He wills with His creation. And for that reason God rules! He reigns over all the creatures of His hand. God has the power to make that vase and has power to break it in pieces again. All creatures are held in God’s all-powerful hands, and He directs them in the way He chooses. It is God’s command as Creator that men serve Him—bow before Him, obey Him, walk in the ways He has chosen to reveal to them. He is the great Creator, and man is but a little creature of His hands. All things we do, therefore, are open before His eyes. So, Solomon tells the young men of the church: remember that Creator.
Furthermore, he calls God our, or your, Creator. “Remember now your Creator.” That too is significant, because this Word of God also points out that this God is our God. He is our God, and we are the sheep of His pasture. We belong to this God because He has chosen to bestow His great love upon us. This Creator could have shaped and molded us into vessels of dishonor fitted for destruction—but He did not. The Creator could have left us in the sin and misery into which the whole human race was plunged in Adam—but He did not. The Creator could have prepared for us a place in hell on account of our sin and unbelief—but He did not! Instead, our Creator chose us unto salvation in our Lord Jesus Christ. He then sent the Son of His love into this world to die as payment for our sins. At the cross God showed us mercy by offering the sacrifice of His Son in our place to atone for the guilt we incurred in Adam. God sends forth His Spirit into the hearts of His people, delivering from the blindness of unbelief. Finally, our Creator leads us to seek out and find eternal life in Christ Jesus. Young men who fear Jehovah: remember your Creator in the days of your youth! Remember what God has done for you.
Remember this! Recall to mind the mercies of your God you were taught. That word “remember” reminds us of the beautiful truth that you were taught about your Creator when you were young. Solomon here writes to the youth of the church that were born and raised up in the church. Now, I know that is not true of every young man that may be listening. But it is normal that in the church young men are taught from childhood about God and His work. But Solomon’s point is, remember now those truths you were taught. Do not forget them. When as a young person you make decisions concerning your life’s work—remember your Creator. When searching for a young lady to date and perhaps marry, then remember your Creator and what pleases Him. When you are alone with friends and away from parental supervision, you must consciously make choices about what you are going to do and where you are going to go with your Creator in mind. You know what godly living is. Remember your Creator! When your flesh pulls at you to walk in sinful ways, then remember your Creator. Do not reason in your heart: I will walk in what pleases my flesh now. I will do what I want to do now and then worry about it later. No, God’s Word says, “Remember now thy Creator, in the days of thy youth!” Right now. Not later. Right now, during this stage of your life. Right now, at this moment, when you must make a decision as to what to do. When you are alone in your room with your telephone or television set or computer. When you are with friends. Remember now—at this very moment—your Creator and what He has done for you.
The question imposes itself on us at this point: why? Why is it so important to remember our Creator when we are young? The answer, first of all, is, in order that we might walk in obedience to God’s will and not our own. After all, every man will be brought into judgment for what he has done in this life and, as we mentioned earlier, God will not take as an excuse, “Well, I was young.” David lamented over his sins of youth. If we truly are a believer, we will too. The memory of past sins brings sorrow and shame. Remembering our Creator when we are young helps us to avoid wounds that leave scars for the rest of our lives. Ah, to remember that life in this world is vanity without God. It is emptiness. Wrong decisions in youth can lead to a lifetime of misery.
But there is another reason—a much more positive reason—to remember your Creator in youth. Youth is a time of strength and cheer. You may rejoice in this time of your life. It is a wonderful time. The evil days have not drawn near. Being young is not a curse, but a rich blessing God has given us. But only when we remember our Creator! Otherwise, youth is vanity and emptiness and—quite frankly—confusing! So, rejoice, O young man, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth! But do not forget the whole duty of man: Fear God and keep His commandments.