10 I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.
12 I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, 13 and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God.
14 I know that whatever God does,
It shall be forever.
Nothing can be added to it,
And nothing taken from it.
God does it, that men should fear before Him.
15 That which is has already been,
And what is to be has already been;
And God requires an account of what is past. (Eccl. 3:1-15)
We are born into time…we die into eternity. Our natural existence is, therefore, temporal whereas our soul’s existence is eternal. The former we can understand, at least to a degree, but the latter remains unfathomable and this by divine decree (v 10). The immediacy of temporality occupies our attention while for many eternity remains on the periphery of consciousness. Because of its immediacy to experience, temporal existence deceives people into thinking time is all there is, its cessation the end of experience, and thus the end of existence. There is nothing beyond the grave except, well nothing. If time ends with death, then any meaning attached to temporality ends as well. Therefore, ultimately, existence is meaningless.
The immediacy and deceptiveness of time lies behind the incessant drive for immediate the self-gratification and narcissism that defines our present culture. Unfortunately, these viruses have infected many of God’s people, their leaders and their churches. The old adage that we cannot become too heavenly (i.e. eternally) minded lest we become of no earthly good is just plain foolishness and a subtle invitation to be more earthly than spiritual. The fact is that without an eternal perspective all we can be is earthly-minded which won’t, and can’t, help anyone; we are just as blind as those we think we’re leading to the light.
Multitudes of believers, both Jews and Gentiles, have learned, and continue to learn, that time is understood only by the embracing of eternity. Every one, the Preacher says, has ‘eternity’ in their hearts just as everyone possesses a soul, no matter what atheistic materialists say. However, it is the believer alone that knows this to be true. In other words, any meaning our lives have now is such because we have eternity in view. All else is merely vanity.
It has been observed by many that what we do now has eternal ramifications. It is like throwing a rock into a pond; the action (throwing the rock) sets off effects (ripples of water) that produce effects (usually unforeseen) far beyond the initial splash. Should we go about willy nilly doing this and that without regard for eternity, our actions will amount to little more than the vanity of which the Preacher speaks, the size of the splashing nor its effects any gauge of its value or meaning to eternity.