Ecclesiastes 12:14. “For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”
Exegesis and Application
As one reads this verse, one is reminded of Emmanuel Kant’s “postulates of practical reason” that argue that because we do not see divine retribution or vindication of actions in this life we naturally believe in heaven and hell where all scores will be settled (Critique of Pure Reason). Thus, we naturally and hopefully seek judgment for bad deeds done and rewards for good deeds done in this life in an afterlife. The inclination of this verse is to hope for just such a judgment day in the future, particularly if one has been wronged.
However, the verse does not require an eschatological interpretation. Indeed, other biblical wisdom passages teach that judgment can be meted out in this life as a consequence of bad life choices (eg, Prov. 1:30-31). The failure to lead a skillful life can lead to a failed life. Christians have the assurance that one “day” in the future God will make things right through His judgment, and the just will be vindicated and the wicked punished. The sweep of this verse is extraordinary: “every deed” and “every hidden thing.” Everyone will be judged for everything one does. No exceptions. Thus, we should be “afraid” of God and His judgment. The Hebrew word for “fear” in the preceding verse is “yare” which has the flavor of “terror,” “dread” and “apprehension of danger and our corresponding weakness.” We can run but we cannot hide (1 Cor. 4:5). This verse should put an end to complacency about our morals because we are told that nothing, open or secret, goes unnoticed or unassessed.
However, the key implication of this verse is that if God is concerned about everything that goes on, so should we be. Nothing is pointless. This is not a new thought but it is the final thought in the wisdom literature of the Bible! In the teaching of our Savior we see that even an idle word (Matt. 12:36), the life of a bird (Matt. 10:29), a cup of cold water (Matt. 10:42), the growth of hair (Matt. 10:30), and of course, the repentance of a sinner (Luke 15:10) all are noticed by the Triune God.
Why would God care about every public deed and private thought of every one? He doesn’t restrict His sovereignty over just what His chosen people do or think, or only the good stuff. His omniscience covers everybody on earth. Why? This verse reiterates that God is asserting His sovereignty over everything that goes on in His world. No thing or no one escapes His interest or omniscient judgment.
Christian journalist, this verse teaches at least two things:
1) Everything in the world should interest the Christian reporter. There is no unimportant story. Everything and everyone has some value and some worth. Enthusiastically receive all editorial assignments and write as if God is reading your story because He is taking notice of what is being done and said.
2) Life is a moral journey and everything has moral consequences. There is no neutrality or by-standers in the many moral conflicts between good and evil in life. “Every” and “every” is all-encompassing, so be engaged as an ambassador of God (2 Cor. 5:20).
3) As ambassadors of God the Christian journalist will be called upon to shine light where there is darkness and uncover that which is hidden. The calling of the Christian journalist will involve many aspects of reporting and writing but always it will involve the investigation and exposure of wrong doing and malfeasance. We cannot escape this role of the Christian journalist.