It is easy to think that work is a curse. Especially when you are working long hours or you have a job that you don;t really like. A lot of people think that, in heaven (if they believe in it), we will be doing nothing but lounging around relaxing. The idea is that heaven will be one long summer holiday. But does the Bible really teach that heaven will be free of work?
Isaiah 2:2-5 contains a beautiful, expansive vision of the heaven.
2 In the last days
the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established
as the highest of the mountains;
it will be exalted above the hills,
and all nations will stream to it.
3 Many peoples will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the temple of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
so that we may walk in his paths.”
The law will go out from Zion,
the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
4 He will judge between the nations
and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.
5 Come, descendants of Jacob,
let us walk in the light of the Lord.
In light of the question about work and heaven biblical scholar Ben Witherington’s comments are very helpful:
When Isaiah envisions the eschatology age, or the last days, he does not envision a massive work stoppage. What he envisions is a massive war stoppage, if we may put it that way. The point of beating swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks is so that weapons of war may be turned into tools of work. When Isaiah envisages the final or eschatology state of affairs, his vision of shalom, well-being, peace, is not a work less paradise, but of a world at peace worshiping the one true God and working together rather than warring with each other. Ben Witherington, Work: A Kingdom Perspective on Labor, Xiii- XiV
The application of Witherington’s comments is that work is not something that is alien to the plans and purposes that God has for humanity but it is something that is deeply ingrained in them. Your job, as long as it is not unethical or illegal, is not a curse but one of the ways that God uses to sanctify you and to bring about his purposes in the world. Work, therefore, is part of God’s good creation order. I wonder if we viewed work in that way would our job satisfaction go up? I think it may.
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