Our heart set on eternity
By Ivan Ho. 01 Jan 2018
Life of vanity without God
I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts. For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth? Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?
Ecclesiastes 3:18-22 KJV
This passage in the book of Ecclesiastes sounds rather bleak, and unfortunately many tend to take verses from this book out of context and come to the wrong kind of conclusions. If we read carefully, the book was written by king Solomon who, coming to the end of his life, told of the things he observed in human life. We ought to read the book in its entirety rather than to take certain verses here and there and make principles about life out of it. Some wrongly conclude that our life is nothing but vanity, not unlike some Buddhist teachings.
The above passage actually describes the condition of men WITHOUT God whose lives are, at the end of their earthly existence, no different to that of animals! They labour, they plant, they build, they eat, sleep, get married and enjoy everything they can during their limited life spans on earth… then they die and their bodies return to dust. Just like animals, men without relationship with God will, after they depart from their earthly existence, perish in their soul and spirit as well, forever cut off from God. It does not matter what great things a man has done in his life, or how much wealth he gathers on earth, he cannot make his life on earth last any longer than what is given to him. When he dies, his condition would be similar to animals.
If a man has relationship with God through Christ, his spirit will go up to heaven after he dies. If not, his spirit goes down to earth like animals. What’s more, hell is the eternal destination of people who are cut off from God. For these souls, all is vanity after they die. There is nothing new on earth under the sun if Christ is not in our life! Everything that people chase after would be meaningless and vanity at the end of his life journey on earth.
Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?
Ecclesiastes 1:2-3 KJV
Reality sets in when a man faces death. He cannot take anything with him when he dies and all that he labours for throughout his life will be in vain.
Seeing there be many things that increase vanity, what is man the better? For who knoweth what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow? for who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?
Ecclesiastes 6:11-12 KJV
As he came forth of his mother’s womb, naked shall he return to go as he came, and shall take nothing of his labour, which he may carry away in his hand.
Ecclesiastes 5:15 KJV
It matters not if a man lives as long as thousand years, he will ultimately end up being worse than a still born child, if he has not seen the goodness of God in his life!
If a man beget an hundred children, and live many years, so that the days of his years be many, and his soul be not filled with good, and also that he have no burial; I say, that an untimely birth is better than he. For he cometh in with vanity, and departeth in darkness, and his name shall be covered with darkness. Moreover he hath not seen the sun, nor known any thing: this hath more rest than the other. Yea, though he live a thousand years twice told, yet hath he seen no good: do not all go to one place?
Ecclesiastes 6:3-6 KJV
That is the perspective of a person’s earthly mindset in that everything has a finite existence. A man who cannot see beyond his earthly existence only perceives that his life will cease to exist after he departs from earth. He lives, he dies, and after that no more.
What a meaningless existence if everything just comes to end after we die!
God sets Eternity in our hearts
The truth is that God creates you and I for eternity. His original intention is to create man to live forever.
I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.
Ecclesiastes 3:14 KJV
When God created Adam and Eve, His original intention was to have them live forever. God knows that for man to live everlasting life, he must draw life from God by living according to His words. But when man breaks God’s laws through disobedience, his body and soul dies as a result! Man, due to his sin of disobedience, now lives in darkness, and life ends after he dies when his soul also perishes with him. That is the curse of sin and death over mankind due to our sins.
As sinners we live in despair and hopelessness until God sets eternity in our hearts by restoring the sense of eternity in our soul so that we begin to see that there is life beyond death.
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.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 NKJV
Not only in our hearts do we have a sense of longing for eternity, God promises eternal life to everyone who has been reconciled to God through Jesus Christ.
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
John 17:3 KJV
When a person repents and turns to Jesus and accepts Him as Lord over his life, the curse of sin and death is instantly broken. God now conveys him from the kingdom of darkness into the eternal kingdom of His Son. In Christ there is no longer death, but only eternal life.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
John 3:16 KJV
There is a huge contrast of life perspective between a man who is in crisis and a man who is in Christ. A man in crisis mode, when facing trials and difficulties, can only set his sight on the temporal. On the other hand, a man in Christ sets his sights on things that are not seen. His heart and mind is not set on temporal things but on the eternal kingdom of His Son.
For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 KJV