To see the first and last times that a word occurs in the Bible can often produce interesting observations. This, of course, is pretty much an English exercise for most people. Also, since one will be looking at Hebrew and Greek in the original languages, the exercise doesn’t work so well.
Among the versions there will be variations. (I use the NET Bible.) Still, it’s sometimes a fascinating game, much more so than those that most people play.
This month’s theme and key word is work. In the U.S., at the moment, more people are employed (which we assume means they’re working) than ever before, although the coronavirus may change that.
Work is good. We discover this truth because the first time the word work occurs, it is God who is engaging in this activity.
By the seventh day God finished the work that he had been doing, and he ceased on the seventh day all the work that he had been doing, Genesis 2.2.
Note these facts and truth from this verse:
- God worked in creation. That means work is good.
- God finished his work in creation. It is good to finish one’s work.
- God rested after his work. Man does well to rest after his work.
The last point brings us to the last time the word work occurs in the Bible.
Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: ‘Blessed are the dead, those who die in the Lord from this moment on!’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so they can rest from their hard work, because their deeds will follow them” Revelation 14.13.
In this verse, work is not physical, but refers to the work of God’s people in his Kingdom. It refers to faithfulness in the face of opposition. John’s readers were undergoing persecution. The previous verse says,
This requires the steadfast endurance of the saints—those who obey God’s commandments and hold to their faith in Jesus.
The dying mentioned above is not from a good old age, but from one’s enemies, for being a follower of Christ. Note these points from this verse:
- Saints sometimes need reassurance that faithfulness is a good and necessary quality: “Write this!”
- Death is the best thing that can happen to Christians.
- True saints do “hard work” for Christ.
- Death for saints means rest. For saints only, “those who die in the Lord.”
- People who work to do eternal good see eternal consequences (“deeds will follow”).
In the first mention of work, God rested. In the last mention, his persecuted people rest. What God does for himself in the beginning, he does for his children in the end.
That’s a wrap!