God Will Bring Everything Into Judgment

The aim of Solomon’s quest—to find that comprehensive, personally-satisfying, perspective from which life will make complete sense—could never be achieved. And because eternity is “in our heart,” we can’t stop searching. This is why Solomon calls this search a “sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith” (1:13; also 3:10). This is also why he warned that “of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh” (12:12). The perplexing human predicament will provide an endless supply of material for philosophers. Because life “under the sun” will never yield any ultimate answers, thinkers will never run out of arguments and counter-arguments, but they will always be the old questions wearing modern garb.

But there is an aspect of this quest’s aim that Solomon did discover. It is this surprising twist in Solomon’s search that gives us the firm bedrock for joyful, godly living under the sun: In the end, God will bring everything into judgment.

In other words, the fact that God’s ways ultimately exceed our comprehension is no excuse for us to live as we please (“I’ll never figure everything out, so I’m going to just pursue my pleasures”); for God is still the Judge. On the other hand, we shouldn’t let the perplexities of life so frustrate us so much that we can’t find pleasure in God’s good gifts. The need for this balance is the reason behind Solomon’s exhortation to young people: “Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment” (11:9).

See the first post in this series, “Reading the Book of Ecclesiastes.”

Reading the Book of Ecclesiastes

The journey toward completing my dissertation on the apologetic approach of Blaise Pascal has often reminded me of the book of Ecclesiastes. There are so many similarities between Pascal’s apologetics and Solomon’s reflection on the vanity of life without God. Both reflect on our bewildering sinful human nature. Both compellingly urge us to turn to God alone.

In a series of posts, I’ll be sharing a series of lessons I taught on the book of Ecclesiastes. For me, this series was thrilling, not only because it deepened my understanding of this book, but also because it helped me see that all the Old Testament, including Ecclesiastes, points unmistakably to Christ, the center of all Scripture.

Reading Ecclesiastes is like dipping into a powerful river. Although at times it appears to be meandering or erratically veering here and there, we feel its constant and irresistible currents pulling us toward the destination. Similarly, the author of Ecclesiastes moves us toward his conclusion by injecting into this book currents of varying speeds and strengths. He muses on the apparent meaninglessness of life, cries in despair over the frustration of an unfulfilling career, weeps with the comfortless oppressed, shakes his head at fools, smiles at the simple pleasures in life, and finally invites us to bow in reverence before the Creator and Judge of all. No matter which of these currents we dip into, we find ourselves unmistakably moving toward the final conclusion: Fear God since he is the Judge of all.