Bishop's Message

In the days of youth and vigour

Singapore celebrates Youth Day every July!

The Bible in Ecclesiastes 12:1 (NIV) addresses our youth. Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, ‘I find no pleasure in them’.

I recently shared two points about this Bible verse to the youth in our Methodist schools.

Firstly, part of what the Bible says is similar to a saying often attributed to George Bernard Shaw: “Youth is a wonderful thing. What a pity that it is wasted on the Young!”

Youth is a wonderful thing. Don’t waste it. Use the time and energy of youthful days to establish an important connection which will long outlast your youth. Establish a connection with God your Creator.

Secondly, the Hebrew word which the Bible writer has used for “Creator” is an interesting one. Most languages have words which can be understood in more than one way. (Compare in English how the bark of a dog or the bark of a tree requires very different words when translated into another language.)

Most of our English Bible translations use the word “Creator” in Ecclesiastes 12:1, and that makes good sense. But in a modern Jewish translation (Tanakh), another word is chosen which translates to “vigour” and that also makes good sense.

So appreciate your vigour in the days of your youth.

Instead of restricting himself to just one of four possible nuances of this single Hebrew word, a famous Jewish rabbi, Rabbi Akiba ben Josef (d.135 AD), included three meanings in one sentence!

“In the days of your youth, remember from where you came (your source), to where you are going (your grave) and before Whom you are destined to give an accounting (your Creator).”

Here’s my own playful attempt to squeeze all four possible nuances:

In the days of your youth, remember your ends (your start and finish), and your Creator who is your strength (vigour) from end to end.

Heavenly Father, please bless our youth from beginning to end. Amen.

Bishop Dr Gordon Wong was elected Bishop of The Methodist Church in Singapore in 2020. He served as President of the Trinity Annual Conference from 2013-2020.