“For this world is not our home; we are looking forward to our everlasting home in heaven. With Jesus’ help we will continually offer our sacrifice of praise to God by telling others of the glory of his name. Don’t forget to do good and to share what you have with those in need, for such sacrifices are very pleasing to him.”
Why do we want paradise? Why is it that we see so many books, movies, songs, about some sort of ‘perfect world’, or at least as close as we think we could get to perfect? Imperfect visions on what ‘utopia’ must look like has developed its own term: dystopia.
So much have we used the idea of dystopia that people even compare what we have today to some imagined dystopian alternative that has never occurred. On the other hand, we have seen historical examples of entire countries taking up the same system, brutally enforcing their ideals, and turning the entire civilization into what they thought would be ‘perfect’.
The real question is this, how can an idea of something we have never seen (perfection) be enthralling enough to woo entire civilizations to inflict bloodbaths and even genocide in an attempt to achieve it?
Why on earth would we do that?
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
To answer the question of our seemingly insane pursuit of perfection, I referred to Gotquestions.org. I found a commentary and context for the verse as well as some ideas on its interpretation. Although the commentary had no listed author, I believe it was taken from a later work listed as a recommended resource at the bottom.
“Ecclesiastes 3:11 states God has “set eternity in the human heart.” In every human soul is a God-given awareness that there is “something more” than this transient world. And with that awareness of eternity comes a hope that we can one day find a fulfillment not afforded by the “vanity” in this world. Here is a closer look at the verse:
“In the human heart” is an expression representing the mind, soul, or spirit of each person. God places eternity (Hebrew olam) into our heart and soul.
The word translated “eternity” is much debated regarding its translation in this passage. The word olam can be translated as “darkness,” “eternity,” or “the future.” The use of this word could indicate darkness (in the sense of ignorance), contrasting this concept with what follows in verse 11: “Yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” It could be that Solomon is contrasting human ignorance with God’s perfect wisdom.
A better possibility, and the one that is the typical interpretation, is that olam refers to God’s placing an eternal longing or sense of eternity in the human heart. Taking this understanding to be the correct one, Ecclesiastes 3:11 affirms the idea that humans operate in a different way than other forms of life. We have a sense of eternity in our lives; we possess an innate knowledge that there is something more to life than what we can see and experience in the here and now.
The larger context of the chapter aids our understanding of verse 11. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “There is a time for everything, / and a season for every activity under the heavens.” The next seven verses list a series of contrasts: love and hate, scattering and gathering, tearing and mending, weeping and laughter. Then comes verse 11, which begins, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” In other words, life is comprised of opposite experiences in balance; God has appointed each to its season. Each season is to be considered as part of a whole.
Seasons come and go, but does anything in this life truly satisfy? The answer in Ecclesiastes is, no, all is vanity (Ecclesiastes 1:2). However, through all the ups and downs and vicissitudes of life, we have a glimpse of stability—God has “set eternity in the human heart.” Life is but a vapor (James 4:14), but we know there is something past this life. We have a divinely implanted awareness that the soul lives forever. This world is not our home.”
What is so important about ‘eternity within the human heart’? Well, it seems to me like an excellent explanation for the apparent obsession the human race has with perfection. Particularly when it comes to paradise, we do not seem to get our minds off the idea that there must be something more.
My mom mentioned a few days ago how difficult she thought it would be to live as an atheist. Someone who has nothing to turn to when life gets tough. No purpose, no meaning, just a random existence that came about for no good reason whatsoever. When dealing with depression, I run to God for guidance and foundation. What would I have done without the knowledge that God loved me and made me for a reason? I honestly think that I would have been suicidal for years, and probably would not be here today.
Without that brick to fall back on, what do you do when life backfires? How do you pick yourself up when there is no reason to? This is the thought process of many suffering from depression. I still have problems staying positive, but I could not do it without the everlasting rock that is Christ Jesus.
God has set eternity on our hearts. We run towards the thought that something more must be. We strive to think and extrapolate on what real paradise is. Why would we think of paradise if God had not put it there? There is no rational for why this is an obsession apart from God.
Today, the world is difficult. The world throws us curveballs. It throws us down. It lets us down. Things do not go according to plan. Life backfires. What do we do when there is nothing left?
Run to the rock.
Be blessed today.