August 29, 2004 / No. 3217
Dear radio friends,
The Reformed Witness Hour brings you a message today from a very familiar verse in the Bible: Ecclesiastes 12:1. We read, “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.” We bring this verse of Scripture especially in remembrance of the beginning of school at this time of year, when many children and young people return to a regular course of study in their schools. We find it to be a very fit word, directed especially towards young people, and their calling in this coming year to remember their Creator in their education.
It is taken from the book of Ecclesiastes. The book of Ecclesiastes is the book in the Bible that gives us the proper view of this present life. We may call it the world and life view of the Christian. Those young people who are in college know that many Christian colleges as well as secular are concerned to teach a world and life view: what is life, what is my place in this present world, and what am I to do as a Christian? What is my world and life view? The book of Ecclesiastes provides the world and life view of the child of God, the Christian.
Solomon, in the book, if you are acquainted with it (and I would encourage you to read the book this week), shows the vanity (and that is a prominent word in the book) or emptiness of life as far as fallen man is concerned. All the pursuits common to fallen men are vain and empty. They add up to nothing and bring only further grief and suffering. In the book you will see that the writer gives himself for a while to pursue the goals of materialism, thinking that life really is what you have. And he discovers and sees very clearly that this, too, is vanity and vexation of spirit. Or he pursues pleasure, laughter, and good times, and discovers that this too, apart from the living God, is but emptiness and vanity. He pursues what we might call humanism, a life of doing good or a life of learning. Again his conclusion is that these things too, apart from God, are empty and vexation of spirit, that apart from God life is an empty thing, filled with misery, and ending in despair and destruction. He comes to a conclusion at the end of the book (chapter 12:13, 14), that there is but one proper view of life. Because God is God and we are created to know Him, there can be only one purpose for man. There is only one thing that is fulfilling. There is only one thing that is worth it.
Let us listen to his conclusion: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” That is, the Bible teaches us here, and throughout, that the whole purpose of life is simply to fear God, to stand in loving reverence and in holy awe, through Jesus Christ, of the great God of our salvation revealed in the Scriptures; to know Him in the face of Jesus Christ His Son; to be emptied of ourselves, to know our sins and our unworthiness; and to know His amazing grace in order that we might extol and honor Him. Fear God and keep His commandments. That will certainly be the result. The one who has been brought into a loving awe of the true and living God will now, by God’s grace, live a life of principled obedience. His life will be conformed more and more after the pattern of God’s good and holy commandments.
The book of Ecclesiastes was written for young people. The Holy Spirit, through Solomon, has His eye especially upon youth. In the last part of Ecclesiastes, chapters 11 and 12, Solomon wished to remove the rose-colored glasses from the eyes of youth. You must not read those chapters thinking that Solomon is some disgruntled old man. Rather, Solomon wants young Christians to be under no illusions with respect to this present life. He says in 11:9 that youth is a blessing, it is a very good thing. It is something to be enjoyed. He is not suspicious of youth. But he says that their joy must be tempered with the reminder that “God will bring thee into judgment.” The idea is that your adult life is going to reveal the quality of your youth. Do not let your youth be days of vanity and emptiness. May God deliver you from this thought, that you can become serious when you get old, that spiritual things are reserved for tomorrow and now you can do exactly what you want. You can live your own life. If that is the youth that you have, it is empty. It is vain.
The Bible is teaching us that our adult life is going to be the reflection of our youth. Therefore, our youth must be spent in serious thought as to our purpose in this life, as to our relationship to God, as to our place to serve Him in this life. Youth is not a time for daydreaming. It is not a time for sloughing off. It is not a time for simply following the idols of this present world. It is not a time to drift along without a purpose or without a goal. Rather, says the Word of God, remember in the days of your youth your Creator. It is of utmost importance for Christian youth to be focused, in the days of their youth, upon their God.
Now, notice. Solomon’s words are, “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth.” Notice that he says not simply “Remember thy God, thy Redeemer, thy Savior.” But he says, “Creator.” What is the idea of remembering our Creator God? The idea is this: that in the days of our youth, as always but especially in the days of our youth, we must remember that we have our existence from God; that, as receiving our existence from God, we stand responsible to Him; and that, renewed in Jesus Christ, we exist and live for but one purpose: to serve God.
The truth of creation, of course, displays the power and the purpose of God. By the word of the Lord, we read in Psalm 33, were the heavens made and all the hosts of them. By the breath of His mouth God’s mighty power is shown, in that He spoke and it was, He commanded and it stood fast. Creation not only shows the awesome power of God to create by His own power things that were not as though they were, but it also reveals His purpose. We read in Revelation 4:11 that the redeemed hosts in heaven sing, “For thy pleasure they are and were created” — all things were created for a purpose. God, of course, does everything for only one purpose: His own glory. Creation is for the purpose of God’s pleasure. Remember now your Creator. Remember that, as a child of God redeemed in Christ, you have been given life for one purpose: that you might live your life to the pleasure of God. Remember that. You have one purpose in life: to serve your God.
Missing that purpose, your life is vain, no matter what you might succeed in, no matter the beauty that you might gain by physical exercise and diet, no matter the intellect you may bring to your mind and money to your wallet. Apart from serving God you miss the whole purpose of your existence. Your life is empty. But in knowing God, the God who has not only given you existence by His power, but has by His grace redeemed you for the purpose that you might serve and know and love Him, your life has meaning.
This, of course, is very important. It means that without believing the truth of creation, man is doomed to folly. Man cannot know himself. Man does not know and cannot know why he exists. The truth of creation is not an appendix to the Christian faith. It is not something negotiable. The truth of creation in six twenty-four hour days is the Christian faith. To deny it is to deny the Christian faith.
The truth of creation declares that we are not independent. We are not self-existent. We may not be self-serving. We were created by the mighty power of God and are, therefore, dependent upon Him. God declares to you as a young person that you did not develop from a pool of slime, that you were not hurled into being by a big bang, that you are not a product of chance and mutation, that you are not simply a genetic code that miraculously somehow fell into being through ages and millions of years. The truth of creation declares to you that God made you. God determined your purpose. And God alone can satisfy you.
Remember your Creator. Remember not simply creation, but your Creator. Remember the One who powerfully, gloriously, made all things, and made you His own in Christ, so that now you owe your existence to Him, and the sole purpose of your life is to honor and to know Him. Remember that in every class you take, whether that is at the college level or high school or whatever level of education it may be. Remember your Creator.
We must remember Him because, you see, we are always prone to forget. And when we forget our Creator, the problem is not mental but spiritual. It is not a learning disorder that we have but it is the old man of Adam. We do not, naturally, like to remember God — that is, according to our own nature. It is easy for us as children of God to forget our God and to forget our Creator, to forget that we owe all things to Him and to forget that we are on earth to serve Him. That is a very easy thing for us to forget. Not only is it true to our nature that we forget that, but we forget it through the many distractions of life. This is the strategy of the devil. He wants us to be busy with the things of this world. Or He wants us to be busy with entertainment or pleasure, with self, with all kinds of things. So there is the battle for the mind, the battle for the heart, and the battle for the soul. Upon what is it focused? Remember your Creator, remember the living God, and remember to live in sweet communion with Him, for, apart from Him, all is vanity.
This means that we must live a disciplined spiritual life. To remember our Creator is an activity of love. Remembering is always an activity of love. To remember God, your Creator, in love means, therefore, that you must constantly, as young people, be reading your Bible, living a life of prayer, and living your life very close to the church, in the fellowship of the true church, where the Word of God is loved and honored and where it is preached in all of its mighty power and glory. You must hold fast to the faith, to the truth, of Holy Scripture. You must not become a Christian who says, “Well, my faith and my beliefs will be determined by what is convenient and I’ll just get rid of those things that are not convenient for me, that would hold me back from the enjoyment of the sinful things that I might want to pursue now. If the church is telling me that I can’t do that, I’ll just find another church.” That is not remembering your Creator. Hold fast to the truth. Hold fast to it when you are challenged. Remember your Creator in the days of your youth.
There is a word that we must not overlook in that verse. That is the word “now.” Remember now thy Creator. That is a very profound idea. It means to say to us that all true faith in God is now, it is never later. If our faith in God does not impinge upon our present life today, we have forgotten Him. True faith is present faith. True faith is not simply the promise of tomorrow. You cannot say to God, “Later.” Sometimes young people and children say to their parents, “Later.” Mom and Dad say something, and you say, “Later, Mom; later, Dad,” by which you mean to say that something else is more important to you right now and, besides, you are not so interested in doing what they tell you to do. God says, Remember Me, now! You can never say to God, “Later.” True faith is now, never later.
Remember God now in your entertainment. Do not say, “Later — I’ll remember Him later. I’ll get out of this phase of wicked entertainment and then, when I get 25 (later), I’ll remember Him.” God says, “You deny Me. You don’t believe in Me then. Remember Me now. Remember Me now in your values. Remember Me now in your friends. Remember Me now in your temptations.” You say, “I know all about God. Yes, I’ve been taught all of those truths, but later!” To say later is to forfeit His power and His grace to sustain you now. Remember Him now in the days of your youth.
The days of youth are those days in which the channel of life is set, the mold for life is set. That is the way God has made it. It is like concrete. When once it is poured, it is there. Remember God in the days of your youth.
In youth, with all of its beauty and all of its attractiveness, serve the Lord your God. It is very important to do that, because in the days of our youth, first of all, there are decisions that we are called to make. I could better put it, there is the will of God that we must seek. What is that will of God for me? We make those decisions in the days of our youth, and those decisions are with us till we die. The decisions that you make as a young man and a young woman are important. They reach out to the future. They will be with you every day and touch you every day even until the day that you die. There is no such thing, for instance, as casual sex. There is nothing casual about the intimate relation that God has created. There is no such thing as “It doesn’t matter because I’m young.” It does matter. Remember your Creator in your decisions.
Remember Him in your decisions about your occupation. That is, remember His day. Remember He is the Creator who said, “Six days shalt thou labor and the seventh thou shalt rest.” Remember Him in the days of your youth when you choose an occupation. Do not bow to the dollar. Do not say, “I’m going to remember the dollar and God can come second.” Serve Him.
Remember Him in marriage. Remember Him in deciding whom you are going to marry. If you are not walking with God, do not get married. It does not matter if you are 25 or 30 or 22 or 18, if you are not walking with God, do not get married! Walk with God. Remember your God. Love your God. Love is truth. Learn to love another in God and in His truth. Remember that it is what a person believes and how he lives that is the important thing. Remember that. Remember, it is not his form and it is not her shape. It is not his money and it is not her looks. It is what they believe in their heart. Do they know God? Do they know the Lord Jesus Christ? Do they worship God in the truth? How do they live? Remember your Creator in the days of your youth.
“While,” says Solomon, “the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.” Those evil days refer to corrupt days and could be a reference to the end of the world. That is very important. You must remember your Creator in the days of your youth if you are to have the strength to live in the days of the end. But, of course, it also refers to the days of old age. Those days of old age very often are days of testing. Once again, the foundation for our life has been laid in the days of our youth. If you want to understand what that means, then the best thing for you to do is to go and visit the aged in a nursing home, or to visit with any aged person. I guarantee you, that when you visit with an aged person it will not be long before you learn about his youth. It will not be long before you will be able to see the character of his youth. For old age is standing upon the foundation laid in youth. Youth is serious. Remember your Creator.
Are you going to remember Him? By the grace of God you will. Oh, by the grace of God you will! Because, you see, behind this Word of God is something precious. It is not, first of all, we who remember Him, but it is He who remembers us. Our Creator remembers us. He says, “I have graven you upon the palms of My hands. I cannot forget you.” He remembers me — ah, that is everything. God, my Creator, my Redeemer in Jesus, remembers me. There is nothing more beautiful than that. That is my world and life view. That is everything. God knows me, and because He knows me my life has purpose and meaning. It has one purpose: that I might know Him better, that I might walk with Him and serve Him, obey Him and glorify Him, live to Him with His people. Remember your Creator in the days of your youth.
Let us pray.
Father, we do thank Thee again for Thy Word and ask for its blessing upon our soul. We confess, O Lord, that of ourselves we are weak and we are sinful. We need Thy grace. Bless us in this day. Cause Thy Word to be a mighty power and a light unto our hearts. In Jesus’ name, Amen.