Monday, January 16, 2017

Will There Be Work In The New Heavens and The New Earth?

When it comes to work, many have this sense of dread. They don't want to go because they did not get enough sleep or they want to be bums. Like it or not, we all must work. Some Christians think that work is a by-product of the Fall, but that is not the case.

The Bible says:

When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground—then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed (Genesis 2:4-8).

Work is was not as a result of the Fall, it was instituted by God during creation. Work became harder as result of the Fall:

And to Adam he said,

"Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return" (Genesis 3:17-19)

James Hamilton wrote:

We have seen that God created man to work, to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth, to subdue it, and to exercise dominion over the animal kingdom (Gen. 1:28), working and keeping the garden God made (2:15), imaging God’s own character to improve God’s creation so that all life—plant, animal, human—might flourish.

Man sinned, however, bringing death and futility into the world. God’s merciful instructions enable us to flourish in fallen futility, and the redemption God accomplished in Christ frees us from idolatrous approaches to work and motivates us to work unto the Lord to adorn the gospel as our vocations become the arenas in which we love God and neighbor. In spite of all God has done, however, we are not what we were prior to sin, and the world has been subjected to futility.

One question that continues to pop up in the minds of believe is, will there be work in the new Heavens and the new Earth? James Hamilton answers that question:

To ask that question is to ask what we can say about work after Christ returns to consummate redemption. What will work look like in the new heavens and the new earth?

We cannot be sure, of course, because God’s way is to do what has never before been seen or imagined (cf. 1 Cor. 2:9). As Paul said, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Cor. 13:12).

We have, however, two kinds of information from which we can formulate conclusions about the perspective of the biblical authors on what awaits us. On the one hand, we have details found in particular statements about the future, and on the other hand, we have a broader picture in which these details are to be understood.

The broader picture takes its outline from the Old Testament expectation of a new exodus, new Sinai law, new temple, new experience of the Spirit, new pilgrimage through the wilderness, and new conquest of the land, which is a new Eden, all led by a new King from David’s line. This fund of imagery is the account from which the New Testament draws when it shows the payoff of all that Jesus accomplished. This fund of imagery is also drawn on when the New Testament points to what Jesus will accomplish when he returns.

God will bring to pass the purposes he set out to achieve when he spoke the world into existence. God has not trashed his first failed attempt and started over. To the contrary, what he set out to do when he made this world he will bring about when he makes it new. God will make the world new, and we will do new work.

The new work we will do is the work of ruling and subduing, working and keeping, exercising dominion and rendering judgment, all as God’s people in God’s place in God’s way.

So there will be work in Heaven, but it will not be grueling as it has been due to the Fall. It will be a work we will enjoy for all eternity.

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