“The last word as the whole has been heard: God you shall fear and his commandments you shall keep, for this is the whole of man. For every work, God will bring into judgment along with every hidden thing — if it is good and if it is evil.”
And so, Solomon brings this book to a close with these familiar words: fear God and obey his commandments. Why shall we fear? Solomon reminds us that it is God who is in the position to judge — not man. We may act in the best of intentions by our own standards, but it is God’s standards that we will be held to in judgement: sobering, isn’t it?
In modern times, we don’t much like the notion of fear is one that is rather unpopular. Why would we fear one we love and who loves us? Does not a father often instill a sense of fear in the children? Is this not a good thing? If children do not fear their father, they will not obey his instructions and will run amok with their lives. They will behave toward the father as if he is a peer rather than as their father. Further, they will never accept his discipline or instruction. It is no different with people and God. Look at those churches and denominations that have downplayed the fear of the Lord and ask yourself, “How do these people approach God? Do they approach him as one would approach the creator of the universe and the judge of their souls or do they approach him as they might approach a longtime pal?” Which view is more consistent with the teachings of Scripture?
And so, we end our reflections on this book with a reminder that we will all stand in judgment at one point in history. Our works will not save us, but will they not show a great deal about the state of our hearts? Will they not show the things that were meaningful to us in life? Will they not show the extent of our gratitude to a God who saved us? Will these works define us as a disciple of Jesus or as a reckless and undisciplined child? May it be the former and not the latter for each of us.