This phrase that God has put eternity into the hearts of men (Eccl. 3:11) is simply beautiful, mysterious, compelling, and awesome especially when juxtaposed to the morbid atheistic materialists and other antichrist philosophies claiming that only what which meets the eye is ‘real’, that any metaphysical claims are patently false and to be rejected as frivolous and irrational.
While many people seem to have bought into the “perception is reality” argument (what is real is only that information about the world we receive through the senses and interpreted by the mind), a nagging “what if” surfaces when questions like this are asked: If the materialistic atheists are right, how is it even possible that we can conceive of eternity in the first place when everything around us has a beginning and always ends? It is this nagging “what if they are wrong” following claims like “there is no life after death”, “there is not and can be no such thing as a God like the Jews and Christians claim” or the like that betrays, at least for those willing to admit it, the possibility there might be more to reality then they think. Arguing that such thoughts are ‘frivolous and irrational’ doesn’t explain their origin (they really need to read Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason). But, to admit eternity into one’s thinking changes the whole game and puts people into a sometimes exceedingly uncomfortable position of having to consider what eternity has to do with them, personally.
Take for example “Today if you hear His voice…” from Hebrews 3:7. 15 and 4:7 referring back “in time” to David’s words in Psalm 95:7-11. It’s clear that the ‘today’ of Hebrews isn’t the same ‘time’ as it was for David since millennia have passed. Yet, from eternity’s perspective, the ‘today’ of David and the ‘today’ of the Hebrews mean the same for those hearing the words of God in their ‘time’. The same holds true for us: the time is Today because “…everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it, for God has so worked that men should fear Him. That which is has been already and that which will be has already been…” (Eccl. 3:14-15 NASB, italics and bold mine). The future, the past and all the events contained therein are enfolded into now, Today and even though “…man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end” (Eccl. 3:11) all of us nevertheless have eternity placed in our hearts. The point is that all we really have of the time given us, whether past or future, is Today. Hearkening to His voice Today and believing what He says Today is to enter into His rest Today even though, for us still locked in time, the eternity of this ‘rest’ remains ‘not-yet’. To do otherwise is to die into an eternity where anything by rest awaits.
If it is the case, and I believe it is, that eternity is placed within the hearts of humankind, then it is a key ontological aspect of human existence; i.e. it is a facet of what it means to be created in the imago dei, the image of God. It is part of our nature to be aware of eternity even if we cannot understand or fathom it. While we are alive in time, the sheer beauty of creation, its vastness and immensity can trigger a consciousness of eternity while the prospect of dying can do the same. We are more than ever meets the eye and destined for more than we can ever imagine; Today, if we will hear His voice the truth of the matter will become clear. This view of human beings is vastly superior to that of a materialist who is forced to conclude we are merely beasts among other beasts who, at least for now, sit at the top of the food chain but, when dead, sit at the bottom as fertilizer. But, this view is more than just superior, it is true and we know it, or will know it, to be so because we have eternity in our hearts. It all depends on whether we are listening or not.