The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.
Solomon, King of Israel (NASB)
It seems to me that for all the honor we have given to Solomon over the years, for the most part, we have not paid much attention to his wisdom.
In just the bit of advice quoted above, Solomon summarizes everything he knew. Calling upon all his God-given wisdom and experience, he wrote that after all things had been heard and considered carefully, the only meaningful purpose one can have is to carry out God's commands, motivated by fear of Him.
If God really meant to preserve the wisdom from Solomon's clay to this for our learning--then what do we learn from it?
Would the God who created us and all other things deliberately lead us astray? Would He advise us simply to fear Him and keep His commandments and then make things really complicated by playing Hide the Commandments with us?
I grew up in a religious organization like most Christian denominations which believes that He did just that. I formerly believed that God hid His commandments from us. I had to dig deeply, using the full range of Commands, Approved Apostolic Examples and Necessary Inferences --to find out what God wanted me to do.
I don't have to search so hard anymore. I've discovered that right out in plain sight, where it is easy and oh, so simple to understand, Jesus said (SEB):
If you love me, keep my commands.
If anyone obeys my teaching, he will never die! Every person who listens to my words and obeys them is like a wise man who built his house upon rock...every person who listens to my words and does not obey them is like a foolish man; he built his house upon sand.
If anyone loves me and obeys my teaching, my Father will love him.
If you stay with the teaching, you are truly my followers. You will find out the truth, and the truth will set you free.
Put first God's kingdom and what is right.
Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord' will enter the kingdom of heaven. Only the person who does what my heavenly Father wants will enter it.
They asked Jesus, "What should we do, so that we may work God's works?" Jesus answered them, "this is God's work--you must commit yourselves to the one whom God sent!"
'You must love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the most important command. The second most important command is like it: 'You must love other people the same way you love yourself.' These two commands support the whole law and the prophets.
I am in my Father, you are in me, and I am in you.
Love Each Other
This is my command: Love one another as I have loved you.
Love one another! I am ordering you to do this.
I am giving you a new command--love one another. You must love one another, just as I loved you. You must have love for one another. This is how everyone will know that you are my followers.
I have given you an example. You should do things for others as I have done for you. Since you know these things, you will be happy if you practice them.
Love your enemies. Pray for those who are cruel to you...If you love only those people who love you, then you are not any better than anyone else.
Do for other people all the things which you want them to do for you. This is the meaning of the law and the prophets.
Go and learn what this means: "I want mercy more than I want animal sacrifices."
The person who welcomes a prophet as a true prophet will receive a prophet's reward. A person who receives a good man as a truly good man will receive a good man's reward. If anyone gives one of these precious ones a drink of cold water because he is my follower, I tell you the truth, that person will certainly not lose his reward.
The most important one among you will be your servant. Every person who acts as though he is important will be made ashamed, but every person who truly humbles himself will be made important.
Then I will say to the people on the right side, 'You are blessed by my Father. Come take what belongs to you--the kingdom which was prepared for you since the beginning of the world. I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you took me into your home. I had no clothes, so you gave me some clothes. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in jail and you came to visit me...I am telling you the truth: Since you treated some of my so-called "unimportant" brothers this way, you do it to me!'...Then these...good people will go into eternal life.
Be Immersed To Be Saved
I am telling you the truth: If a person is not born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God!...If a person is not born from water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God!
I must be lifted high, so that every one who commits himself to me will have eternal life.
I am telling you the truth: The person who listens to my teaching and believes in the One who sent me has eternal life. That person is not under condemnation. Instead, he has passed from death over to life. I am telling you the truth: the time is coming--the time has already come when dead people will hear the voice of the Son of God. And when they hear it, they will live again!
I am the food which gives life. The person who comes to me will never be hungry. The one who commits himself to me will never be thirsty. If you are thirsty, come to me and drink! Continue asking, and it will be given to you. Keep on searching and you will find. Be knocking, and the door will open for you. You will receive, if you will always ask. You will find, if you continue looking. And the door will open for you, if you continue knocking.
If anyone confesses, in front of other people, that he believes in me, then I will speak for him in front of my Father in heaven.
The person who does not accept his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. The person who finds his life will lose it, but the person who gives his life away because of me will find it.
You are tired and have heavy loads. If all of you will come to me, I will give you rest. Take the job I give you. Learn from me because I am gentle and humble in heart. You will find rest for your lives. The duty I give you is easy. The load I put upon you is not heavy.
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, going out, make followers for me from all nations. Immerse them by the authority of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Going into the whole world, cry out the good news to all mankind. The person who believes it and is immersed will be saved, but the person who doesn't believe it will be condemned.
Do This, Remembering Me
He broke off some of the bread and gave it to his followers. He said, "Take it and eat it. This bread is my body." Then he took a cup. He gave thanks to God for it and gave it to them. He said, "All of you drink from it. This is my blood which I am pouring out for many people for the forgiveness of sins. It shows the new agreement which God has made with men."
Then Jesus took bread and gave thanks. He broke off some of the bread and gave it to them. Then he said, "This bread is my body which I am giving for you. Eat this to remember me." In the same way, after supper, Jesus took a cup and said, "This cup is God's new agreement in my blood which is being poured out for you."
God didn't bury these commands in the Epistles for me to dig out by the most vague 'necessary' inference. No, He put them right out front. They are so easy to find that I'm afraid that I have blindly stumbled right by them too many times in my life.
'Fear God and keep his commands requires knowing how to recognize God's commands when we see them.
Isaiah gave us a clue about finding them, when he said (35:8) that Christ's way of living would be like a highway, so easy to see that the wandering one (though not very bright) would not miss it. Those who walk there will be redeemed, ransomed, singing and everlastingly happy. Living Christ's way will cause them to have joy and gladness. Sorrow and sighing shall vanish from their lives.
If the 'not very bright wanderer' can't miss it, then Lord, what have I been doing all these years when I thought you and I were playing Hide the Commandment?