Apostle Paul-MonrealeKing Solomon

In my current Bible reading plan, I am reading through the Old Testament, New Testament, and Psalms each daily for a year (or a little more, after some missed days). Today, I happened to come to the (ostensibly very different) conclusions of two books.

Here are some quotes from the NET text in the key verses:

Gal 6:15 “the only thing that matters is new creation”

Ecc 12:13 “Fear God and keep his commandments, because this is the whole duty of man.”

The way I see it, one of two (slightly wild) things is going on here. I don’t have a final answer, but you can probably judge by the rest of the post which one I’m leaning toward.

First Possibility:

This is a classic Old Covenant/New Covenant distinction. Ecclesiastes, in spite of its rather jaded view of life and its outcomes, encourages people to fear God and do His commands. In Hebrew thinking, that was the only way to become closer to [insert ideal here]. Some likely candidates might be closer to God, closer to salvation, closer to just generally being good, or closer to leaving a slightly less ethereal legacy.

One could fairly easily argue Paul might see it this way. After all, the letter to the Galatians is largely a reproof of Christians who were preaching/teaching that circumcision (read good works) is necessary for salvation, or at least for full participation in the community of saints.

Second Possibility:

The two end goals are complementary and/or sequential. The trick to understanding how this one might jive with Paul is to get the ordering right.

You see, many people, looking at this would err in presuming that (just like the Old Testament) the old commandment leads us to the new. Follow God/Jesus/etc and you too can become or make a new creation.

When we step back and remember that it is God and the Word who create and we are just part of the ongoing drama, things fall into place much better. The reality is that as Christians, we start from God’s unconditional acceptance of us. That is solid and unchanging.

But because of that, we become capable of new kinds of things, Spirit-inspired works of God that are brought to fruition through our hands. In this paradigm, fearing God and keeping his commandments is a privilege and a joy, and even might fall within the bounds of Ecclesiastes 9‘s call to worldly pleasure.

If the world is fleeting, why not take joy in serving together with God, rather than trying to tear ourselves from his side. And as a bonus, Psalm 111 (serendipitously my Psalm for the day) tells us that obedience leads to moral insight, which births action praising God.

That’s a mouthful. It’s just some quick reflections, but hopefully it helps us all to think a little more about how God works in us working in him to bring forth new creation. Peace to you, and blessings in your context.

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