There is permanent and there is temporary. Permanent, lasts forever and ever and past the end of time, past the end of everything of this creation, and is before the beginning of anything. Temporary has a beginning and it has an end. Temporary exists in time and can be a very short duration of time or can be a very long duration of time, but temporary is never forever. Temporary might last for a Pico-second, or for 100 billion years. 100 billion years is still temporary, 100 trillion years is still temporary; permanent is eternal.
Which is bigger, a flea or an elephant? How much bigger? A million times? Maybe. Which is longer, a day or a year? Is the difference significant? If you measure something in geologic time, then a year and a second are pretty much the same things. For example: when someone says that this or that dinosaur lived 100 million years ago do they mean to the second or to the year? No, it could actually be 101 million years ago or 105 million years ago, or 95 million years ago—a span to ten million years! What is a second or a single year compared to ten million years—nothing.
The Bible uses a different word than permanent, it uses eternal. Eternal or eternity, are forever. Actually it is not even correct to say that eternity is forever, because forever is tied to time. There is no time in eternity. It is better to say that eternity is, and leave it at that.
God is eternal and a man’s life is very temporary. It is said that the universe, that is, God’s creation is about 13 billion years old, give or take a billion or so years either way. But, what is that to God? A billion years or one day; it is all the same to God. In eternity there is no time.
Man, on the other hand, is very much tied to time; his body and mind are anyway. A man is conceived, and cell by cell is nit together in the womb. He is born, and cell by cell he is added to. Then the machine that is the body starts to break down and eventually (very quickly actually) some critical component of the body fails and the body stops functioning.
Man is unique of all God’s creatures, man is a hybrid being. He has a very temporary body, but within man is a piece of eternity. Of all the beings that God created only man is both temporary and eternal.
He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. (NIV)
Heart here is a metaphor. Here the heart means the core or defining central part from which everything else derives its meaning. The heart of man is spirit, just like God. The heart of man is eternal, just like God.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” (NIV)
The image and likeness here are not speaking of the body, but rather it is speaking about the spirit or heart of man. That is, the part of man that is like God is not his flesh and blood body, but rather his inner spiritual self. Inside we are like God, outside we are like other natural animals. The outer man is temporary and actually meaningless, but the inner man is like God and is eternal.
God created the universe out of matter, or energy if you like, which are really one and the same thing. Matter can be converted to energy and energy can be converted into matter. The very famous equation says, E=MC2, which means that the amount of energy is equal to the amount of Mass (atomic weight of each atom all added up) times the Constant, which is the speed of light squared. This energy, or mass if you prefer, is temporary. The scientific word for this is entropy. Entropy is a fundamental characteristic of the universe and it basically means that everything in the universe will eventually cool down and stop working—temporary. It is true that this entropic effect will take a very long time, but as we have seen earlier, time is meaningless. Because of entropy eventually time itself will cease to exist, so in this way, we can say that time is meaningless.
“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” (NIV)
Solomon here was speaking of anything and everything that is of this universe, that is, created things, things made out of energy, things that obey the laws of nature. Solomon was not talking about God, and neither was he talking here about the heart of man for he later says…
Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil. (NIV)
The key to reconciling these two passages of Solomon is the word Judgment here in the last verse. Judgment is not about the body which is meaningless and temporary, but rather concerns the spirit, that is, the eternal heart of man. Within the hybrid nature of man is the real (but invisible) person, the Godlike person, the person that is.
People live in this world thinking only of the outer person, the temporary person, the meaningless person, while merrily ignoring the eternal within.
A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. (NIV)
“A little while,” is a key phrase in the Bible. It is pointing out this fact that the world is temporary.
We should not focus on the world or on anything in the world. Focus, rather, on the eternal, that is, on God.
At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.
28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”(NIV)
Of your two parts, one is eternal and the other is temporary. Consider what this means.
Please read the 39th Psalm