This post is one in a series of posts on a Bible study I am doing titled Heaven by Randy Alcorn and Dave McCleskey. The focus of this study is to get a Biblical view of what heaven is really like.
In continuing our discussion this week of things we will do for eternity on the New Earth, today we’ll look at how work will be engaging for us and how we will express our creativity. Some people tend to believe that, since in many ways the New Earth resembles the Garden of Eden, perhaps our culture and technology will revert to the simplicity that existed at that time. In Genesis 4:19-22 it tells of descendants of Adam and his son Cain after they were expelled from Eden – “Lamech married two women, one named Adah and the other Zillah. Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock. His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all who play the harp and flute. Zillah also had a son, Tubal-Cain, who forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron.” (emphasis added). If these industrial, cultural, and technological advances were not around until after Adam and Eve’s expulsion from Eden, then they weren’t around in Eden. So if the New Earth is so much like Eden, some people may wonder, then perhaps we will lose these advances. Fortunately for us, this doesn’t seem to be the case. The description of the New Jerusalem (see a discussion of this here) would lead one to believe that industry, culture, and technology will likely carry over from what we currently see on earth.
Engaging in Work
For 6 years I worked in the public school system, 5 years as a teacher and 1 year prior to that as an instructional assistant. I loved hanging out with the kids, but there were certain aspects of the teaching job itself that I was not well-suited for. After a while, I knew that I would have to change careers at some point, so I went back to school to be a software developer, and that is what I do today. I’m brand new at it, but I can already tell that this kind of work is much more fitting for my personality than teaching was. In Heaven, I believe that whatever work we are given will be perfectly aligned with the things we are good at. I also believe that we will have plenty of motivation to do well at whatever work we are given. That means that our work will directly contribute to something that is important to God, or our work will directly affect our own circumstances. In Isaiah 65:21, when describing the New Heavens and the New Earth, it says “They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.” I’m not much of a carpenter or a farmer, but with any kind of learned skill I would definitely be motivated to do either of these activities if they directly affected my own circumstances (whether I had a house or fruit to eat). I don’t believe God will allow me to go without shelter or food in Heaven, but that doesn’t mean He won’t make me do work for it. I also think we’ll do other (non-self-serving) work, as well. Alcorn says that “in Heaven, we’ll reign with Christ, exercise leadership and authority, and make important decisions. We’ll set goals, devise plans, and share ideas.” We’ll be fully engaged in whatever work God gives us to do.
Expression of Creativity
Even under the Curse, humanity has been able to produce some extremely creative works. I think about the pyramids in Egypt, the works of art hung in museums throughout the world, and some of the pieces of music, plays, and movies we have created that are beautiful, moving, and entertaining. If we are able to accomplish these things on this cursed earth, what more will we be able to accomplish on the New Earth, where our resources will be made new and will be lavished on us by our loving God, and our time will be unlimited.
God will take joy in our craftsmanship, just as took joy in the craftsmanship of Bezalel in Exodus 31. Alcorn points out that Bezalel was the first person in the entire Bible to be said to “filled with the spirit,” and it just happens that he was chosen by God to do nothing more than “to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship” (v. 4-5). He wasn’t a prophet or a priest – he was an artist. His creativity and craftsmanship are what God took joy in, and it will be the same for us in Heaven.
I believe that much of the technology we have today is a gift directly from God. The advances in medicine, the size of our networks, and the complexity of our microprocessors are just small examples of the things we have accomplished in the last 100 years (or less!). These accomplishments have given us great power, and to quote Spiderman’s uncle, “with great power comes great responsibility.” We’re called to use these gifts in ways that glorify God. But the great thing about these gifts and this calling is that “God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29). That means that God isn’t going to take it back when this earth passes away and a New Earth is put in it’s place. We will continue on in much the same way we are now, with many of the same industries we have now, using much of the same technology we have now, expressing perhaps even more creativity than we do now. And we’ll be engaged throughout it all.
Click HERE to see the next post in this series.