Every Deed

“The words of the wise are like goads and like nails driven in — from the composers of collections, given from a certain shepherd. And more than these, my son, beware: of making many books there is no end, and much chatter is a weariness of the flesh. The last word, all being heard: fear God and keep His commands, for that is all humankind. Since every deed will God bring to judgment, for every hidden act, be it good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:11‑14 Alter).

Ecclesiastes closes as it opens — an assessment that all is vanity, or mere breath.1 After extensively discussing the vanity of life, Solomon points us toward God: “Fear God and keep His commands.” John later added that our efforts will be rewarded, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments; and his commandments are not burdensome (grievous)” (1 John 5:3).

“The words of the wise are like goads” (verse 11). Goads were ancient prods; pricks on sticks used to make an animal, especially oxen in Solomon’s day, move from a place where they were comfortable to a place the owner desired them to be. Similarly, the words of God are a guide to send us in the right direction. Sometimes they cut to the quick. The metaphor appears in Acts 26:14 when Paul recounts to Agrippa his encounter with the glorified Jesus on the road to Damascus.2 Jesus goaded Saul into the right direction, but at the painful realization that he had persecuted and imprisoned God’s elect (Galatians 1:13).

“Of making many books, there is no end; and much chatter [study] is a weariness of the flesh” (verse 12). In Solomon’s day information was mostly limited to books written by hand. What would Solomon say about today? We have printed books in libraries, audio books on Amazon, dissertations on social media and a blizzard of information. Much of the information we have today is useless and untrustworthy. Alternatively, when we read scripture, we are reading the true wisdom of God. Let us heed Paul’s admonition to Timothy, “O Timothy, guard that which is committed unto thee, turning away from the profane babblings and oppositions of the knowledge which is falsely so called; which some professing have erred concerning the faith” (1 Timothy 6:20‑21 RVIC).

“Every deed will God bring to judgment, for every hidden act, be it good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:8‑14 Alter). During Jesus’ thousand‑year reign of righteousness, the world will be dealt with and brought to its judgment, its testing, its crisis. But it will be a righteous testing or crisis, giving to all mankind a fair test as to loyalty to God. The result of this opportunity, or trial for everlasting life or everlasting death, will come as a result of the great redemption work accomplished at Calvary. It is the will of God “that all men should be saved [recovered] and come to a knowledge of the Truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). Satan will be bound and sin will no longer dominate man’s actions. All will be granted the full opportunity of returning to the blessed conditions and favors enjoyed by Adam in his perfection. Those who refuse will be mercifully taken away in Second Death.

But while that future time will be the actual testing period of the world for life or death everlasting, we should not forget that every good deed and every evil deed committed now will also have a bearing then. very good deed, every good thought, and every good word, has its uplifting and beneficial influence upon character. Similarly, every evil word, thought, and deed has its injurious effect upon character. Every kindness done to one of the Lord’s brethren will be rewarded. Every evil deed done to one of the least of these will be punished (Matthew 25:31‑46). “Thus the world of mankind is now laying up in store helps or hindrances as respects their own everlasting interests. The honorable, the upright, even though they do not become Christians or saints, will have proportionately a better standing in the future time of trial. The dishonorable will have proportionate degradation in the future, and will come forth that much more degraded, and may need additional stripes in order to rise up out of sin, degradation and death, by the assistance of the Savior and the glorified Church (1 Corinthians 6:2).” (R4902).

May we continue to pursue the wisdom given to us through God’s word, and like Solomon, recognize that following a life of worldly pleasure brings no lasting satisfaction. In contrast, walking in the footsteps of Jesus, and consecrating our life to his cause, will bring us everlasting joy, now and forever!

%d bloggers like this: