Made for Eternity

By Joey Fernandez

       I struggled a bit to admit that there are times when I just want more. A better car, a bigger house, more money. Sometimes, I think about how my life would be if I accepted a job with better pay, or if I pushed through with my plan to migrate to a more prosperous country. If I chose another path, things would be different, but…

  

       Would I truly be happier? Could wealth bring satisfaction? Before you search Scripture for the answer to this, just look at all the rich men who live 

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miserably. The truth is there is no end to man's pursuit of satisfaction. If he had much, he would still want more. Even if he had it all, still, it would not be enough.

          Human wisdom encourages man to work hard to accomplish more and gain more because the world believes that with much wealth comes more happiness and respect. Sadly, a man guided by human wisdom will never find satisfaction in all his toil. Solomon, with wisdom unmatched by any man who ever lived (save the Lord Jesus Christ, of course), knew exactly what all these meant when he wrote the book of Ecclesiastes. God ordained a great man who had so much wealth, wisdom, and renown to experience emptiness. Solomon called it a "chasing after the wind". All earthly ambitions pursued with selfish reasons will never satisfy and would only bring emptiness in one's heart.

          Thankfully, after the first 2 seemingly discouraging chapters that cries out with vanity, misery, meaninglessness and futility, Solomon transitions to a passage that begins to provide answers to man’s existential questions. Questions like: What must I have to be satisfied? What must I do to have joy? This passage tells us how to attain it. From here, the meaningless becomes purposeful. Hopelessness begins to turn to cheerfulness. But as we read, we begin to realize some principles: It is God who grants satisfaction, and it is within His power to withhold satisfaction.


Eccl 3:11-14

God Set Eternity in the Heart of Man

[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.


In this passage I see 5 ways how man was made:

1. Man was made beautiful.

          The passage begins with “He has made everything appropriate in its time” (v. 11). The original Hebrew word used by the writer is “yapheh”, which is literally translated as beautiful. We are created in His beautiful image. We are His masterpiece and Scripture says we are wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). When God created man, and the earth, the book of Genesis tells us that God saw that it was good. Therefore, show your respect to your Creator by being a good steward of His beautiful creation. Value it and be thankful for it.


2. Man was made to rejoice and do good in his lifetime (v. 12).

          This is not a license to enjoy life like the world does. Solomon made this clear in Ecclesiastes 11:9-10, “Rejoice, young man, during your childhood, and let your heart be pleasant during the days of young manhood. And follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes. Yet know that God will bring you to judgment for all these things.[10] So, remove grief and anger from your heart and put away pain from your body, because childhood and the prime of life are fleeting”. If we were made to just enjoy life, what separates us from the world? Solomon warns that we will suffer with the world if that is our goal. Both conditions must be met. Rejoice and do good. Enjoy the gifts He has given in your life. Your life itself is a gift. If we accept everything as a gift of God, He allows us to see the good in all His work. Have faith in God and you will realize that life has meaning. Accept the gift of salvation from Him who sent His Son to die on the cross for your sin and accept His lordship over your life. Then, strive to obey God in all you do. Commit yourself to Christ on a daily and moment by moment basis, and experience true joy in the Lord.


3. Man was made to enjoy the fruits of his labor – it is the gift of God (v. 13).

          I have seen men who worked hard the entire week, spend all their earnings on a Saturday night, regret their foolish choice on Sunday, and begin the vicious cycle again on Monday. I've seen men who served their employers faithfully for decades to ensure a comfortable nest egg, only to retire with an illness that demanded so much from them, and whatever they received as retirement benefits was not even enough to cover medical expenses.

          The amount sometimes does not matter. More money sometimes brings more problems. I once saw a family packed inside a jeepney that stopped by the roadside to have a mid-afternoon snack. Everyone in that jeep shared a pot of rice and a small can of sardines. It is not really a snack that would make your mouth water, but I witnessed the joy in everyone's eyes as they lovingly shared that meal with everyone smiling and laughing the whole time. I watched with envy and wondered why they were all so happy. Certainly, it was not the food that brought joy. Could it be that being surrounded by a loving family, enjoying the simple things allowed them to experience joy? Possibly. But then Solomon gives this principle in Eccl 2:24-25, “24 There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen that it is from the hand of God. 25 For who can eat and who can have enjoyment without Him?” There’s the answer. Joy comes from the hand of God. Periods when one experiences fun, triumphs, or even love from a relationship that feels like heaven does not necessarily mean joy. As Solomon said, “Who can have enjoyment without Him?” Then you realize from this passage that enjoying the fruits of your labor is a gift of God. One cannot enjoy the fruits of his labor if God does not grant joy.


4. Man was made with eternity in his heart (v. 14).

          Man’s heart always longs for something permanent. He cannot be satisfied with temporal things. He may enjoy it for a short while, but it will not bring lasting peace, just like the worker who spent his entire week's earnings on Saturday only to regret it on Sunday. But God in His mercy, as the passage says, set eternity in man’s heart. We long for eternity because God set it in our hearts. It is not something we develop a desire for on our own. We are so depraved; we will never come to God on our own. God had to give us a desire to seek Him and He made us to fulfill His eternal purposes.


5. Man was made to fear God (v. 14).

          God is eternal and everything He does will remain forever. His work is complete and perfect. When we accept this in faith, it becomes easy for us to put our trust in Him. It develops reverence, worship, and submission to Him. It develops fear – not that fear of a slave who anticipates a severe punishment from his cruel taskmaster, but the fear of a child, who does not want to break his father’s heart. Fear of the Lord after all, is the beginning of wisdom (Prov 9:10).


          May we all find wisdom in this passage written by the wisest man who walked the earth. Through Solomon, God gave us the book of Ecclesiastes to teach us that satisfaction results from a heart that is guided by the wisdom of God. It does not come from whatever the world has to offer, but from a heart that obeys and lovingly submits to his eternal Creator.