He has also set eternity in their heart
Ecclesiastes 3 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—
2 A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
3 A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
4 A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
5 A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.
6 A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
7 A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
8 A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.
9 What profit is there to the worker from that in which he toils? 10 I have seen the task which God has given the sons of men with which to occupy themselves.
11 He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.
12 I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime; 13 moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor—it is the gift of God. 14 I know that 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. 15 That which is has been already and that which will be has already been, for God seeks what has passed by.
16 Furthermore, I have seen under the sun that in the place of justice there is wickedness and in the place of righteousness there is wickedness. 17 I said to myself, “God will judge both the righteous man and the wicked man,” for a time for every matter and for every deed is there. 18 I said to myself concerning the sons of men, “God has surely tested them in order for them to see that they are but beasts.” 19 For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity. 20 All go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust. 21 Who knows that the breath of man ascends upward and the breath of the beast descends downward to the earth? 22 I have seen that nothing is better than that man should be happy in his activities, for that is his lot. For who will bring him to see what will occur after him?
Today’s text says: There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven— A time to give birth and a time to die… He (God) has also set eternity in their (man’s) heart People are aware of their mortality. Each one of us knows that our time here on earth is limited to a certain number of days, that indeed as we were born without our knowledge or beyond our own control, so shall we one day die. As the text says, we also have eternity set in our hearts. There is something inside each one of us that knows that time does not end when we take our last breath, but rather it continues on forever. The writer says: For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity. All go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust. Each person is left to determine how they will respond to the fact of mortality, death and eternity.
Some will respond by focusing entirely on living this life. Their philosophy is like the man in the parable who said: Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry. They live a life centered and focused on self fulfillment, satisfying every desire of their own heart. What really is their lot though? If all goes well, they have a few years of satisfaction. In the end they too, like every man, must face their own mortality. Often a life of self centered living leads to a time of regret over what might have been, when faced with the end of those days.
Other people will respond to mortality and eternity by trying to create a legacy for themselves. They attempt to build something here in this life which will last beyond their days. For some they attempt to accumulate things, to build a kingdom of sorts, that will remain after they are gone. For them, sadly in the end, the answer is much like what was said to the man in the parable: God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared? (Luke 12:20) Regardless of the preparation and planning, once we are gone we no longer control the things we formerly possessed, they are left to others. Other people try to build a legacy of works. This can be noble and good, many people are indeed memorialized for the good works they did. All of us should at the very least want to create a legacy of good within our own families. To live so that those we love would remember us as loving, kind and devoted to good. Unfortunately as good as that type of legacy is, it at best lasts a generation or two. Then that legacy dies with those who experienced it.
The greatest legacy we can leave for others is a legacy of faith. We can face mortality knowing that we have eternity. The text says: I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it What God has done, concerning eternity is: God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16) Jesus finished work on the cross, paid the price for sin once for all, eternally. He is called “the Lamb of was slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8) 1 Peter 1:20 says: For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you Before our first breath, God through Jesus, made an eternal provision for after our last breath. That is the confidence with which we can face our own mortality. As the writer of Ecclesiastes says: Everything God does will remain forever. Jesus says: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Indeed, as the writer says: There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven— A time to give birth and a time to die. The most important time we can take in our lives is the time to thank God for His eternal plan, for the finished work of the cross which redeems us and takes us from mortal to immortal, from this time to eternal.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit thank You that You have not only set eternity in our hearts, but You, through the finished work of the cross, have provided for eternity. Because of what You did, all is not vanity. Rather we have an eternal legacy in You. Amen