22 Jan The Origin and Restoration of Our Work
In 1551, Robert Estienne created a numbering system for his edition of the Greek New Testament which was also later used in his 1553 French publication of the Bible. To this day, Estienne’s numbering system is what we see when we read our Bibles and refer to specific chapters and verses. By trade, Estienne was a printer. He took over his family’s print shop after the death of his father and then, after his own accomplished career, passed the family printing legacy on to his sons. The next time you recite John 3:16 to yourself, remember to thank God for a 16th century printer that helped make your Bible study just a bit easier!
Of course, in the many centuries prior to Estienne’s work, Scripture was read much differently. So we shouldn’t necessarily attach too much special meaning to the numbers we find around particular verses. Still, if for no other reason than to aid in our memorization, it’s sometimes fun to see what kind of connections can be drawn between familiar passages.
One of these fun parallels has to do with the nature or our work and the numbers “2”, “1” and “5”.
In Genesis 2:15 we read that “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” It is at this point at the beginning of our history that God launches mankind into our mission of work. Adam and Eve aren’t created to take up space and enjoy themselves in one long endless vacation. They (and we) are created to be image-bearers. One of the primary ways we display God’s image is by reflecting His creativity, cultivation and care for His world in the duty of our daily work. The origin of all of our work is good – in fact it is very good.
Of course we know that sin soon enters into God’s world and much of our work becomes characterized by “painful toil”. What God intends to be completely joyful and perfectly productive is now broken.
But God, in Christ, chooses not to leave it this way. Jesus arrives as God’s chosen deliverer and sets about a great rescue plan to not only win God’s people back to Himself but, as Colossians 1:20 states, “to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven.” The truth that Jesus is interested in bringing every aspect of God’s once broken creation back into its full created glory is then amplified even further in Revelation 21:5. John writes about his heavenly vision and shares, “And he who was seated on the throne said, “‘Behold, I am making all things new.'” We see again that not only is God’s restorative plan drawing in His people but He is taking everything in His creation that is broken by our sin – including our daily work and all the outputs of our work – and restoring it back to the amazing beauty of its original state.
There is tremendous hope in this picture of the origins and restoration of our work. Perhaps your work today feels like mere drudgery but that’s not how God views it – He created it to be good and purposeful. Or maybe you feel like your work is accomplishing nothing of any lasting significance. But that’s not true either. God has promised that one day your work will be made completely new and those things which may have seemed pointless in the moment will be shown, with his restorative power, to have brought about much good. In the midst of whatever challenges you may be encountering today, remember the numbers “2”, “1” and “5”. You live between Genesis 2:15 and Revelation 21:5. As an agent of God’s redemption, He continually delights in you reflecting His image of excellence and stewarding his healing power to whatever brokenness you encounter in your work.
Jeff Ostermann, President – Northeast Indiana Center for Faith and Work