Work in Heaven?
As Labor Day approaches, most Americans anticipate a well-deserved day off work. For many of us, the daily grind has become just that––a complete grind––and we regularly count down the days to weekends, holidays, vacations, and even retirement (5,406 days for me). But what if work isn’t supposed to be a grind? And what if our work doesn’t end with our time on earth?
Have you ever considered what the Bible reveals about work in heaven?
We know that the Bible represents one continuous story from Genesis through Revelation, and God’s story starts in a Garden (Gen 1–2) and ends in a City (Rev 21–22). This Garden to the City progression illustrates cultural creation and development: also known as “work.”
Three important truths shape a biblical view of work. If we don’t believe these truths, or if we don’t live and work as if we believe these truths, our lives and our work will be negatively impacted:
- God is a worker, and as imagers of God we too are workers. God worked to create the earth and everything in it. So too He created humanity as His image-bearers to continue His work through talents, skills, and passions He cultivates in each one of us. We are created to create––to develop––to manage––to expand––to work. And God calls us today to join His work in the world (Eph 2:10).
- Good life-giving work existed before the Gen 3 curse and continues today. Discussing the impact of the curse on work will have to wait for a future blog, but what cannot wait is emphasizing that good work––work done with excellence––exists today, and good work pleases God no matter what type of work it is.
- Our view of work should reflect our view of heaven––and more specifically our view of the Holy City described in Revelation. This is where I want to challenge us today.
First, God confirms that the good work of His image-bearers throughout history will be integrated into the eternal, Holy City. Rev 21:24–27 confirms, “The kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it…. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it.” This means the work we do today creating, developing, managing, and expanding has eternal impact through the culture we make, the cultural artifacts produced, and the people we support and influence.
Second, when we think about the eternal City to come (Rev 21:1–2), we know for sure that God will dwell with His people and there will be no tears, no death, no mourning, no crying, and no pain (Rev 21:3–4). God said, “I am making everything new” (Rev 21:5), indicating that His work of creation and development will continue––but in the context of the New Jerusalem. And just as God chooses to do much of His work on earth today through human agents, we should anticipate that much of the work in the new earth will be done via the creative talents and skills of His image-bearers.
Third, God reveals specifics of the Holy City which allow us to grasp a greater vision of work through eternity. Yes, beautiful music will resound from a heavenly choir (and probably an orchestra), but in addition, many of us non-musicians will likely continue the good works of our Creator. Think back to how God gave the plans for the tabernacle to Moses, and then His people executed these plans. David too had plans for the first temple in Jerusalem, and Solomon employed craftsmen, stonecutters, and artisans to create it. Now consider these aspects of the New Jerusalem:
- City foundations decorated with every kind of precious stone––including sapphire, emerald, topaz, and amethyst (Rev 21:19–20)––will need civil engineers, stone masons, jewelers, and miners to build them
- The great high wall made of jasper, gold, and glass (Rev 21:18) will use architects, glassblowers, and metal smiths to create them
- Twelve gates covered in pearls (Rev 21:12, 21) and streets of pure gold (Rev 21:21) will need designers, metal workers, and divers to fashion them
- The river running down the middle of the great street (Rev 22:1-2) will have promenades needing workers and artisans to construct them
- The Tree of Life which bears different crops of fruit every month (Rev 22:2) will need horticulturists, gardeners, and farmers tending and distributing them
- Leaves of the tree of life used for healing of the nations (Rev 22:1-2) will use doctors, pharmacists, and nurses to develop and administer them
Truly the New Jerusalem is a City of Delight! And all of these features of the Holy City signal that good work will continue through eternity because our God, the Creator, never changes. And since we, His servants, will reign with Him for ever and ever (Rev 22:3–5), we must consider that the good works prepared in advance for us to do (Eph 2:10) encompass more than just what has been prepared for us today.
Friends, your work is valuable. Your work has eternal impact. Your work contributes to culture and supports families and communities. And the people you interact with through work encounter Christ’s disciple each day.
I encourage you to take some time today to look at your work from an eternal perspective. Does your view of work reflect your view of heaven? How would you describe your work to Jesus? How would Jesus describe your work to you?
As a final note, Rev 19 describes the white horse Jesus will ride when He returns, along with the horses of heaven’s armies. This indicates heaven has stables. Oh what joy! I’m hoping the Holy City has stables too, and that my eternal work is at the barn!