Remember Now Your Creator

Momento Mori

I have a confession to make, I sometimes like to read young adult books. Lately, I’ve been reading Lemony Snickets- A Series of Unfortunate Events and in one of those books, the main characters go to a school called Prufrock Academy that his this Latin motto ”Momento Mori.” - That motto means “remember you will die.”

I think if you had to sum up the last chapter of Ecclesiastes you probably couldn’t do much better than “Momento Mori - Remember you will die.”

For the last several months we’ve looked at the wisdom of Ecclesiastes - more than almost any other book in the Bible it is a book about having a fulfilling and wonderful life. It is a book of wisdom, practical tips for how to approach life and to think about the ups and downs that inevitably come our way. It is a book that teaches us what most people have to learn the hard way - that everything we think is going to satisfy us doesn’t.

It tells us to be wise. It tells us to be bold. It tells us to be joyful. Live a full life. As I said last week - just do something, don’t squander your life away.

But here in the end of the book, from chapter 11:9 through the end of chapter 12, it sort of changes and makes an impassioned plea to young people.

Look at chapter 11 verse 9:

”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.”

Do you know what Solomon is saying here? He is saying “follow your heart, follow your dreams.” Up to this point, His conclusion sounds like every graduation speech ever written - right?

But notice the next word. What it is it? It is but.

“But know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.”

Solomon is saying this: Live a full life, but don’t just live a full life - live a godly life.

I love to read biographies and lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of mini-biographies on a podcast. I just love to hear the story of people’s lives. It’s amazing how much you can cram in a single life. It’s amazing how much a single person can accomplish.

Young person, I think God wants you to live a full life. I think God wants you to follow your dreams. I think God wants you to put a full 24 hours into every day and not waste any of it.

Family, accomplishment, skill, wisdom, art - these are good things to pursue. But - they aren’t all of it. And if Solomon teaches us anything in Ecclesiastes it is that we can get all of it. We can fill our lives to the very brim with all of the gusto this life has to offer and we can still end up empty - we can still miss the big picture.

Follow your heart and your dreams - But -we have to remember that that isn’t all of it.

Chapter 12 starts with the word “remember now thy creator” - Remember to put God in the picture.

Remember to ”Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Remember to ”Present your bodies a living sacrifice.”

Remember to live for God.

Why? Solomon gives us three answers in chapters 11 and 12. The first answer is...

Remember God because judgement is coming.

Chapter 11 verse 9 says ”but know thou, that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.”

Chapter 12, verses 13-14 say:

”Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”

The truth is that every one of us is going to stand in either one of two judgments before God. We will either stand before the Great White Throne as unbelievers and give an account for how we lived and be punished forever, or we will stand before the judgment seat of God and give an account for our Christian life that determines our rewards and placement in heaven. But every one of us is going to die, and every one of us is going to stand before God and be judged for how we live, and every one of us will regret living for sin and self.

So remember, judgment is coming. I used to take these week long summer courses in Pensecola, Florida. We’d pretty much be in the classroom all day, but we’d have the afternoons and evenings to do what we wanted. We could go to the beach or a coffee shop or the mall. We could hang out at the rock wall or bowling alley or water park. Tons and tons of things to do. It was awesome. But do you know what - the end of the week was always coming and at the end of the week there would be tests and there would be papers do and those would determine my final grade.

You have the freedom to live this life how you want it - but you are going to get graded. Judgment day is coming.

Listen, this is why “live for your heart” by itself is such bad advice. It’s not that it’s always wrong to follow your heart and your dreams. Sometimes those dreams are God-given. What’s wrong is the idea that it is ultimately your heart and your dreams that matter.

Frank Sinatra sang “I did it my way” as if that is all that matters - but you won’t be judged by your way, you’ll be judged by God’s way. So follow your dreams but Remember God - because judgement is coming.

A second reason why Solomon tells us to remember God in our youth is...

Remember God because old age is coming.

Look at chapter 12 verses 2-6. These are a vivid poetic picture of what old age is like.

”While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after rain.”

Do you know what that is saying, it’s saying that when you get old, it’s just problem after problem after problem. It’s one doctor’s appointment after another. One funeral after another. The sun doesn’t stay out for long.

Look at verse 3:

”In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves.”

This is saying that when you get old, your once strong and healthy arms and legs will get weak, and they’ll tremble, and there will be arthritis, and there will be sagging.

Then it says ”and the grinders cease because they are few” - you’ll lose your teeth.

”And those that look out the window will be darkened” - Your eyesight will get bad. You’ll have cataracts.

The next verse says

”And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low”

Your hearing will go away.

Then it says:

”And he shall rise up at the voice of the bird”

You won’t be able to sleep through the night well and you’ll get up earlier and earlier.

”The daughters of music shall be brought low”

You’ll lose any interest in listening to music. It will all just be noise to you.

”Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high and fears shall be in the way”

With old age comes increased fears. Fear of falling. Fear of getting robbed. Anxiety multiplies.

Then it says...

”the almond tree shall flourish”

Your hair turns white.

”The grasshopper shall be a burden”

You’ll be weak.

”Desire shall fail”

You’ll lose almost all of your natural desires.

That is a pretty poetic explanation of old age. That’s where all of us are headed.

I buried my Grampy about a year ago, and the last time I saw him alive, it was so tough, because he was such a strong guy. Every time I remember shaking his hand, every single time, I wanted to cry because he had such a tough grip. Even when he was in his seventies and I was in my twenties, I wouldn’t have messed with him, he was one tough guy. But that last time I saw him, he was so weak. He had to be led from one room to another. You could tell all the gears weren’t clicking, he wasn’t picking everything up. His handshake wasn’t strong. It was tough to see.

Listen to me - you are going to get old and its’ going to happen a lot sooner than you think it will. Everyone in here. No one gets a pass. And when you get old, you won’t get to do much. You won’t get to enjoy things that you can enjoy now.

But do you know what you definitely will get to do - you’ll get to reflect. You’ll get to look back on your life and regret all the years you didn’t live for God and you’ll get to experience a lot of the consequences of your youthful foolishness.

It’s coming. Tick, tock. Tick, tock. The minutes are turning into days and the days into years. Tick, tock. It’s coming.

What are you going to regret? Are you going to be able to say like Paul

”I’ve fought a good fight, I’ve finished my course, I’ve kept the faith”

Or are you going to say in your heart “Why, oh why didn’t I live for God when I had the chance? Why did I waste my one and only life?”

Only one life, so soon will pass, only what’s done for Christ will last.

Remember, you will be judged, remember you will get old and lastly.

Remember God because death is coming.

Verse 5 ends with this statement:

”Because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets.”

That word “long” there is the Hebrew word Olom and here is how it is translated in the King James:

  • ever - 272 times
  • everlasting 63x
  • old 22x
  • perpetual 22x
  • evermore 15x
  • long 2x

When it says “long” home here - it’s referring to eternity. Man goeth to his long home and the mourners go about the streets.

What this is saying is: You are going to eternity and people are going to have your funeral but you won’t be here.

You are going to die.

On January 8, 1956 Pete Fleming, Ed McCully, Roger Youderian, Nate Saint and a guy named Jim Elliot were trying to witness to some Indians in Ecuador, South America when they were killed. Everyone had told them it was a fools errand, that these indians would never hear the gospel. But Jim Elliot and his friends believed God had called them to reach these unreached people and were determined to go.

In Jim Elliots journal, they found this quote

”He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

Jim Elliot gave all of his young life to serving Jesus. He died a very young man. Not even thirty. But today, those Indians are a mostly Christian tribe, even some of the ones who threw spears at Jim Elliot and Nate Saint trusted Christ and lived for him and today, thousands have gone into the mission field because of Nate Saint.

He lived for eternity. He’s in his “long” home.

Listen, let me just close with a plea. Follow your heart and live a full life, but Remember your creator. Live for eternity. Nothing in this life is going to satisfy. Nothing in this life is going to make you truly happy. None of it is going to last. Old age will come before you know it.