“I have seen the undertaking which God has given to the sons of man to undertake; he has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has set eternity in their hearts, which the man cannot find out what God has worked from the beginning to the end.”
Paul writes in Romans 1:20 that the invisible attributes of God have been clearly seen since the beginning of time…in other words, when mankind looks at the world around them (and when a person looks at oneself), he or she cannot help but recognize the hand of an eternal God. Solomon is saying much the same thing when he says that God has put eternity in man’s heart. Deep down there is a sense that there are eternal things and that this is ordered by an eternal God — it is part of our innate understanding that God exists. We cannot fully comprehend the scope of things, looking from the beginning to the end, but we understand that God has so ordered such things.
And this, folks, is the beginning of the answer. If one toils and labors and struggles through life simply for earthly gain…it is vanity — it will pass away. Yet, if one finds their meaning in a pursuit of the eternal — of God himself through Jesus Christ the Son — then one will find that their life has substance and meaning. Such will be the conclusion of Solomon as we continue through this book.
Another thing to note is this very familiar phrase that God has made all things beautiful in their time. It is an expression of God’s absolute sovereignty over his creation. Nothing surprises God, there is no “Plan B” with God, and there is nothing that is done that he has not first both foreseen and foreordained. He has indeed predestinated all things so that all things may indeed become beautiful in their time — in the ultimate sense for humanity, the believer being glorified and the unbeliever being condemned to eternal torment for their sin and rebellion — a reflection of God’s almighty and eternal power. Man loves to cling to the fantasy that he is master of his own fate and captain of his soul, but it is God who ordains all things that comes to pass — including those things for which we pridefully take credit.