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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder


Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 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.

Life here on earth - what is it all about? The average person will spend 70 to 80 years, more or less, here on earth. The text verses sum up human life into a few short sentences. Solomon, the wisest of all people to inhabit the earth, tells us the totality of life - to fear God, and keep His commandments. First, even before we keep His commandment, we are to fear God. Who is this God that we are to fear? He is our Creator. In the beginning, God create the heaven and the earth (Genesis 1:1). This chapter of Genesis continues to reveal how God created all things within a period of six days culminating in the creation of mankind. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created he them (Genesis 1:27). Verses 28-30 tell us that God gave mankind a superior position over all of His other creations. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over all other creation.

To fear God, one must accept this fact - God created us; we belong to Him, therefore, we are responsible to Him for all our actions while living here on earth. Our lesson text says, For this is the whole duty of man. If a person does not accept this premise - if one not believe in God and accept the fact that we have a duty to obey His commandments, then there is no reason for us to fear God. Fearing God does not mean that we are to be afraid of God. The reason we are to fear God is because He has appointed a day of judgment for each person that lives here on earth. We will all stand before God on theJudgment Day and every deedthat we have done, even those done is secret,will be revealed, both our good deeds as well as our evil deeds. Based on this judgment, we will either be rewarded with an eternal life of bliss in heaven with God, or eternal death in a punishing, tormenting place that is removed from God and ruled by Satan. To fear God then is to accept and recognize that God is a just God, and He holds our fate, eternal life or eternal death, within His righteous judgment. This is awesome. To fear God is to be in awe of the judgmental power of His position as our Creator and the Rewarder of our eternal fate.

If, then, we fear God, what are we to do while here on earth? We are to keep his commandments. To do so, means that we must know what commandments we are to keep. From the beginning of His creation, God revealed His will to the head of the household. It was the responsibility of this patriarch to inform his family of God's will. This was revealed as God spoke of Abraham, For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken to him (Genesis 18:19). This period in the history of mankind is referred to as the Patriarchal Age - the age when God's commandments were revealed through the head of the household, or the patriarch of the family.

It was during the Patriarchal Age that the Jewish nation was called out for a specific task in God's plan for mankind. They were called for the purpose of creating the lineage of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It was from the Jewish nation that the Messiah, the Savior of mankind, was to come. Abraham received this promise from God, that in thee shall all families or the earth be blessed (Genesis 12:3). The fulfillment of this promise is spoken of by the apostle Paul as he wrote to the Galatians: Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He saith not, and to seeds as of many; but as of one, and to thy Seed, which is Christ (Galatians 3:16). The prophesy was continued to the grandson of Abraham, Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel by God, ...there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel (Numbers 25:17). This period in history is referred to as the Call of Israel or the Jewish Dispensation. The commandments given through the Patriarchal Dispensation continued, but the Jewish nation was given a new set of commandments. This period is also referred to as the Mosiac Dispensation, since the commandments to Israel were given through Moses. Exodus, chapters 20 through 23, reveal the commandments given to Israel, which include the, so called, Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:7-17). These, then were the commandments of God that the Jewish nation were to keep.

Christianity, or the Christian Dispensation, came when the purpose of the Jewish Dispensation was fulfilled with the coming of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of mankind. With this fulfillment, both the Patriarchal Dispensation and the Jewish Dispensation were completed and were replaced by the Christian Dispensation. The first chapter of Matthew records the lineage of Jesus Christ from Abraham while the third chapter of Luke records the lineage of Jesus Christ all the way from Adam and Eve. 1 Corinthians 3:10-12 tells us that Christianity has, as its foundation, Jesus Christ. God's will, or His commandments for mankind to follow, were revealed to, and through, His Son Jesus Christ.

At the baptism of Jesus Christ by John in the Jordan river, God's voice came from heaven saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (Matthew 3:17). Again God spoke to us at the time that Jesus Christ was transfigured before the apostles, ...and behold a voice (of God)out of the cloud, which said, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him. To all in the Christian Dispensation, we are to look to the teachings of Jesus Christ in order to know God's will. His commandments, on which we are to be judged, are revealed by Christ Jesus, the Son of God.

Throughout the New Testament, Jesus Christ, as well as His inspired apostles and disciples, reveal the will of God to us. Many of these commandments are revealed in Christ's sermon given from the mountain to the multitudes. They are recorded, for our learning, by Matthew in chapters 5 through 7. To know what is expected of us while we live here on earth, these chapters should be studied and put into practice in our lives. Christ sums up God's commandments in an answer given to the Pharisee lawyer as recorded in Matthew 22:37-40. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. Mark 12:30-31 reveals this same message.

Do you fear God? Do you keep his commandments? The Christian Dispensation, in which all people of the world dwelltoday, has two great commandments to obey. Do you love God and worship Him as you should? Do you love your neighbor and demonstrate that love by filling his or her spiritual and physical needs to the best of your ability. Do you know that where you will spend eternity, after this life on earth, is determined by your obedience to these two commandments? The summation of life, its conclusion, is to fear God, and keep His commandments. This is our whole duty. Resolve today to do it!