Roland Murphy wrote that the Teacher in Ecclesiastes “simply accepts God on God’s terms.” As simple as that sounds it is quite another thing in practice. We often already have our terms in place when we come to God. We are like Jacob who tells God straight out that if he is going to follow the Lord, God is going to have to bless him first. Otherwise, no dice. When we approach God on our terms we fail to recognize the vanity of our own lives. The word vanity in Ecclesiastes literally means a vapor or breath. Our vanity is more than materialism or being dressed in a gaudy way. Our vanity is the haughty arrogance of ephemeral beings approaching God like we are his equal.
His conclusion – Fear God.
Once you fear God…accepting God on God’s terms will come naturally to you. Once you fear God, placing your own terms and demands before God will seem foolish and vain. In all of our study and pursuit of wisdom and knowledge we often reduce God and his Gospel down to a list of bullet points. It is hard to fear a list. God isn’t a list. The Gospel isn’t a series of verses to memorize and know the historical backgrounds of. That is too small. That reductionism has converted God and His Gospel from the biggest and most powerful being in the world to an intellectual pursuit or game of trivia where the one who knows the most, has the best doctrine, and attends the most services wins. God doesn’t play by those rules.
Maybe if we were really honest with ourselves we don’t fear God and we don’t really want to accept Him on his own terms. That is a dreadful place to be. If that is where you find your heart after reading this post I would encourage you to reconsider.