Ecclesiastes 12:9-14 is key to understanding the entire book. In this text, the professor shows us how to find appropriate enjoyment in this life and how to find some semblance of the good life. In order to do so, we need to: embrace the prodding of Scripture; fear and obey God; and prepare for the judgment to come.
Of course, the perfect example of someone who found appropriate enjoyment in this life and found some semblance of the good life is Jesus Christ. He’s also the perfect example of someone who embraced the prodding of Scripture, feared and obeyed God, and prepared for the judgment to come.
That night in the garden of Gethsemane as Jesus wrestled with God in prayer in anguish over what lay ahead of him, Jesus prayed, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” But in the next breath he prayed, “Even so, not my will but yours be done.” Jesus received a goad in response to his prayer. He asked for the cup to pass, but got a goad in return. The goad was: the will of God is that Jesus be crucified. Crucifixion was God’s response to Jesus’ prayer. Sometimes embracing the prodding of Scripture will lead you to a cross. The only way you’ll be able to embrace the goad of Scripture is to see Jesus embracing the goad of Scripture for you. Jesus embraced the prodding of Scripture which resulted in his death for you. Can you embrace the prodding of Scripture for him?
In the garden of Eden, the serpent convinced Adam and Eve of a number of lies. One of the lies the serpent got Eve to believe was this: "If I obey God I won’t be happy. If I obey God on this tree business, I will be miserable." Jesus obeyed God and was miserable too…but not for long. After Jesus obeyed God to the point of death, something extraordinary happened:
"Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Jesus obeyed God and was miserable for a little while and then exalted to the highest place. Adam and Eve disobeyed God and humanity has been miserable ever since. So you tell me, is the path to appropriately enjoying this life and finding some semblance of the good life found in declaring our freedom and independence or is it found in fearing and obeying God? The life of Christ is as clear an indicator as any.
The cross of Christ is as clear of an example as there is that there is such a thing as judgment. Jesus lived his whole life knowing how it would end. The prospect of his future sufferings was a perpetual Gethsemane for him. But because of what Jesus has done for us, the judgment that awaits believers is different than the judgment that awaited Christ. God’s justice against our sin landed fully on Christ. Jesus got what we deserve so that by faith we can get what he deserved. Thanks be to God, the judgment in our future is not a judgment of condemnation. It’s a judgment of accountability where the Father will ask: what did you do with the salvation I freely gave you through my Son, Jesus?
In order to appropriately enjoy this life and find some semblance of meaning, we need to embrace the prodding of Scripture, fear and obey God, and prepare for the judgment to come. Look to Christ to find direction and inspiration for all of it.