Jay Adams, in “A Theology of Christian Counseling” spends a few pages discussing, comparing and contrasting views on “head” and “heart.” He makes one concise statement concerning the heart as, “the most fully developed, most far-reaching and most dynamic concept of the non-material (or spiritual side of) man in the Bible . . . . all that is said of the soul and the spirit is said of the heart.” (p. 115, “Counseling and Human Life.”) The heart is an amazing feature of man, for this is the internal place most sensitive to the spiritual realm.
The first chapters of Exodus repeatedly record God at work in the heart of Pharaoh, that he would know that He is The LORD. Following the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, God worked in the hearts of the enemies while still in their lands, “The sound of a driven leaf shall put them to flight, and they shall flee as one flees from the sword, and they shall fall when none pursues.” (Leviticus 26:26). Many, many years later, Ezra records how it was that King Artaxerxes agreed to allow the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem: “Blessed be the Lord, the God of our fathers, who put such a thing as this into the heart of the king, to beautify the house of the Lord that is in Jerusalem.” (Ezra 7:27) The rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:12) and the record of the project (Nehemiah 7:5) was also begun because God laid the matter in the heart.
Additionally, the heart is the place God loads with joy (Psalm 4:7), writes His law (Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 8:10; 10:16), and establishes fear to keep His people walking right before Him (Jeremiah 32:40). God makes the heart new, pours in His love and fills with His Spirit (Ezekiel 11:19, 36:26; Romans 5:5). The heart bears the seal of His Spirit, as a guarantee of our establishment in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:21-22). Care for others is placed in the heart by God (2 Corinthians 8:16). The heart reasons and is teachable (Luke 9:47).
When the heart remains untouched by God and left alone, the heart is full of evil (just do a simple word search in Proverbs). The betrayal of Judas was established in his heart (John 13:2). Those who have the common purpose of giving the beast his kingdom in the Revelation do so because this one mind is put in their hearts (Revelation 17:17).
Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” What could “eternity in their hearts” possibly mean? Some say this is a mere feature of humanity that desires something more out of life. Some suggest this refers to the emptiness, loneliness (isolation), guilt, and fear of death as experienced by those who are not in fellowship with God. Others suggest that “eternity in their hearts” refers to a homing instinct or beacon that makes us homesick for heaven. A.W. Tozer wrote this was a longing for immortality. Could it simply be evidence of God and the need to be reconciled to Him? George Herbert (1593 – 1632) considers this in his poem, “The Pulley”:
When God at first made man,
Having a glasse of blessings standing by;
Let us (said he) poure on him all we can:
Let the worlds riches, which dispersed lie,
Contract into a span.
So strength first made a way;
Then beautie flow’d, then wisdome, honour, pleasure:
When almost all was out, God made a stay,
Perceiving that alone of all his treasure
Rest in the bottome lay.
For if I should (said he)
Bestow this jewell also on my creature,
He would adore my gifts instead of me,
And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature:
So both should losers be.
Yet let him keep the rest,
But keep them with repining restlesnesse:
Let him be rich and wearie, that at least,
If goodnesse leade him not, yet wearinesse
May tosse him to my breast.
Clearly, “eternity in their hearts” refers the part of man that lasts--not so much of a longing, but a lasting. Earlier in Ecclesiastes 3, we see a list of things that will happen in its time, that is, when it runs it’s course. The lasting part of man shows that he is a spiritual being, but he is not omniscient. Ecclesiastes 3:11 implies a limitation that “man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.” This is where faith enters the picture. All “times” are in God’s hands (Psalm 31:15), so everything that happens under heaven happens when God permits.
What profit is there from those events found in list of opposites of the first eight verses? These seem to cancel each other out, so what’s the profit? “Under the sun, when you slice life across the middle and analyze al the strata . . . when you boil it down to its basics and put yourself into it at 86,400 second a day, there’s zero in it for you!. That is, if it’s only a horizontal trip from birth to death. If you leave God out of the scene, 86 billion seconds a day wouldn’t help. It would still be profitless.” (Swindoll, Chuck. Living on the Ragged Edge. Word: Waco, 1987. Pp. 77, 79)
Truth be told, we can’t make sense of what we see going on around us. They say that “hind-sight is 20/20,” but in order to fully understand what is happening now and is yet to come requires faith. Through this “lastingness” that God put within us, we learn to trust His care.
God intends for every person to enjoy even the smallest thing in life, such as eating and drinking, as a gift from God (3:13) and man cannot do this without viewing life from the eternal perspective! Anything enjoyed otherwise is judged! This is a recurring theme in Ecclesiastes, and it often goes unnoticed!
- “Who can eat and who can have enjoyment without Him?” (2:24-26)
- “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?” (3:22)
- “Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one’s labor in which he toils under the sun during the few years of his life which God has given him . . . this is the gift of God.” (5:18-19)
- “So I commended pleasure, for there is nothing good for a man under the sun except to eat and drink and to be merry, and this will stand by him in his toils throughout the days of his life which God has given him under the sun.” (8:15)
- “Go, then, eat your bread in happiness, and drink your wine with a cheerful heart; for God has already approved your works . . . ” (9:7-9)
- “For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.” (12:13)
“Eternity in their hearts” implies a design to the lastingness of man, and God sees the whole picture. “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. That which is has been already, and that which will be has already been, for God seeks what passed by.” (Ecclesiastes 3:14-15) From God’s perspective, time is over. Everything ended as fast as it started. God’s design is, since we are time-bound, to get His perspective and be content in Him. Philosophy and the patterns of this world are limited to this world and will never “get off the ground.” Vanity. Empty. Man in his autonomy is not equipped to progress.
“Great are the works of the LORD; they are studied by all who delight in them.” (Psalm 111:2)