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The Power of a Forward Look

By Joe Boot/ May 15, 2016

Series  Ecclesiastes: Life Under the Sun

Context  Westminster Chapel Toronto

Topic  Discipleship

Scripture  Ecclesiastes 12:1-7

Looking towards the future has transformative power on our present life. With perspective comes purpose. With purpose comes hope.

Scripture:  Ecclesiastes 12:1-7

Sermon Notes:

  1. In the book of Ecclesiastes there is remarkable profundity, down to earth practicality, and relevance to our daily lives.
  2. Major themes of Ecclesiastes include: life as a gift from God, vanity and meaningless apart from God, discovering the beauty of knowing God in the ordinary, and being thankful for ordinary gifts.
  3. Solomon is drawing to his conclusion in chapter 12, where we are encouraged to reflect on old age and death, so as to avoid wasting our years.
  4. Looking towards the future has transformative power on our present life.
  5. With perspective comes purpose. With purpose comes hope.
  6. In old age, memory of the past is sharp, but we lose our grasp on the present. In youth, we are always looking forward; life and vitality are ahead.
  7. Solomon regrets faithlessness toward God in the years of his prime. There is a sense of sorrow from Solomon as he reflects on his past.
  8. Every human wise man has fallen short of the God-given wisdom he had. Having wisdom does not protect us from acting foolishly.
  9. Solomon’s father David says, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90:12).
  10. The power of aging and death is the next point to consider.
  11. The words of covenant breakers are worthlessness: “Eat, drink, be merry”; “delay the effects of old age”; “kill yourself on your own terms,” to avoid the difficulties of old age or sickness.
  12. Squandering your youth in pleasure-seeking is no comfort in old age. By contrast, not wasting your life now makes old age tolerable.
  13. With old age comes the deterioration of the body: legs fail; bones shrink and you stoop; teeth wear out; strength to work is gone; hearing is diminished; anxieties and dangers abound; hair turns white; movement is slow and difficult; sexual desire is lost (Ecc. 12:3-5).
  14. The metaphors Solomon gives us in Ecc. 12:6-7 are all images of death.
  15. This time of decline comes to all of us. It will come before you know it so remember your Creator now.
  16. Life is a vapour, gone like smoke on the wind. The world belongs to God, not to us. Life is a gift, not a right.  
  17. Throughout Ecclesiastes, Solomon exposes the futility of life under the sun without God.
  18. In youth, you decide the course of your life. Rejoice in God’s gift of life. Labour for His kingdom. Give God undivided priority in your life. Serve Him in the days of vigor. Rejoice in a simple life of obedience to God.
  19. The most certain thing, more certain than death, is God’s judgment.
  20. Youth is a wonderful time of life, but a dangerous one, because of the risk that our appetites will rule us, that we will gorge on life’s pleasures and ignore God.
  21. All of the gifts we are given should be used for godly purpose. Honour God because He is the source of everything you enjoy.
  22. Solomon wants us to avoid his path of regret. Remember God. Face life with God as your Shepherd (Ps. 23).
  23. For those who are old and have regrets, remember that Solomon also wasted years of his life. God can still use you, as He did Solomon. If God is your trust, you can look forward in hope.
  24. To ‘remember’ means to do something with the knowledge we have. We need to act.  

Application Questions:

  1. How can looking toward the future transform our present lives?
  2. What do you hope to look back on when you are in old age?
  3. How do you measure whether your life was well-spent?
  4. Why does it mean to give God undivided priority in our lives?
  5. What are the implications of God’s ownership and sovereignty over all things?