“occupation” Session 7:
Building a Garden City
Read pages 237-270 of Garden City before beginning this lesson.
Life After Heaven
If you grew up in church, you’ve probably heard that, in the “end times", the earth and everything in it is going to be destroyed. If you believe that the whole world is just going to burn up in the end, all this talk about work and rest really won’t make a ton of sense. However, this view of ultimate world destruction doesn’t seem to be consistent with the rest of Scripture, nor does it seem to fit into the first-century Jewish perspective on the afterlife that Jesus Himself seemed to uphold.
1. Begin this study by reading Isaiah 65 with your small group.
2. Count the number of references that Isaiah makes to the concept of work in this passage.
Work in the New Creation
The view of the afterlife presented by the Prophet Isaiah seems very different from what many of you probably imagine when you think about Heaven. Remember what we have discussed in previous lessons—we were made to work. Our purpose does not change in eternity. We will be working there, as well. The only difference is that, in the future, the curse will be undone and work will no longer be toilsome, as it is now. It will be pure pleasure, as God originally intended!
According to Scripture, life for the Believer does not end in Heaven; it ends in resurrection—resurrection in a body, on earth! (For more on this concept, check out Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright.)
1. What implications does this view of the afterlife have on the way that you think about your work in the here and now? Does your work seem more significant, knowing that life on earth goes on in the age to come?
Eschatology Shapes Ethics
According to John Mark Comer, “our eschatology shapes our ethics.” In other words, how we view the end affects the means by which we live our lives now. There is an invitation for us to enter into God’s rest, eating, and drinking, and enjoying His presence here and now as we will in Eternity. If we believe that God will reward our work in the coming age, it will transform the way that we work in the present. Following Jesus is about patterning with the Holy Spirit in seeing heaven invade earth through us. Our work is not just a means to an end. It is an end in and of itself.
1. Does the way that you spend your money, your time, and your energy align with your beliefs about the future life here on earth?
2. Are you training to reign? The Bible is clear that, in the coming age, we will reign with Christ. Are you honing the skills necessary to reign not only in this life, but also in the next? How can you “reign in life” in the job that you have now? Discuss this with your small group.
3. If you want to go deeper into this topic of resurrection life, read 1 Corinthians 15 with your small group. Focus in the on the final verse of the chapter. Notice how Paul brings it all back to the practical application of giving yourself fully to the work that God has given you to do. It’s incredibly practical!
The Reward of Faithfulness
We have already established that our work here on earth matters, is practice for the next life, and will carry on into eternity. But that’s not all that there is to it. God will also reward us for our faithfulness if we do our work well. If you read over the Parable of the Talents in Luke 19, you will notice the message that Jesus is teaching: responsibility now yield greater responsibility in the age to come.
1. Are you being faithful to invest the time and influence that you have been given now so that you can rule in eternity?
2. If you were judged based upon how well you do your work, would you be found “a good and faithful servant”? Remember that all the work that you do, you are really doing for Jesus Himself.