This is part 16 of a many-part blog series on the book of Ecclesiastes.
If Jesus has come to make ALL things new (Revelation 21:5), by extension that means ALL things, right?
We often treat “ALL things” as only the human soul. When we launch people overseas just for the Good News and ignore the conditions of life under the sun in that place, we actually ignore part of why the Good News is good. The Good News isn’t just salvation from our sins (although that is incredible in itself), but also that Jesus is re-inaugurating His Kingdom on earth. For His Kingdom to come fully on earth, salvation from sins is of utmost importance—but so is His rule and reign being firmly and finally established. We are only saved from our sins once we’ve submitted to His lordship, and when That Day finally comes when all who have submitted to Him are gathered for Eternity, His rule and reign on earth will be complete. We are finally going to live for Eternity without sin and without hebel. Until then, we are working to bring about His full rule and reign.
Lordship of Jesus
Once we’ve submitted to His lordship, we are re-instated as vice regents, fulfilling our original purpose of ruling and reigning over His creation under His ultimate authority. That means working to make ALL things right again, which in turn means working to fight against injustice and to rebuild the world according to His original design. Much of our work in B4T is in putting the worth of Jesus on display by showing our employees what life in His Kingdom looks like while providing superior products and services with integrity. That is why platforms (fake businesses) are so dangerous—because those engaging in platforms are actually counterfeiting what God made to build up His Kingdom.
B4T includes both facets of God’s plan: redeeming the human soul, and restoring creation to its hebel-free foundation. Think about how this plays out in workplaces around the world. How is work under the curse mutated into something awful, and how can we re-image it to God’s intent? Managers who yell at employees, bosses who fire people over simple mistakes, colleagues throwing each other under the bus to get a promotion, shoddy work, workers lying to cover errors, accountants lying about financial statements to deceive investors, and everyone going home at the end of the day not knowing how (or if) their work benefits society. Our central motivation to work within the Kingdom is not for a paycheck, although that is necessary, but to build God’s Kingdom.
What does God say to us through hebel—to the control freaks, workaholics, pleasure seekers, anxious? He asks us a deep, probing question: “What does man gain [Hebrew: yithron = profit/gain/advantage/leverage/surplus] by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?” (Ecclesiastes 1:3). These are all things we can walk through with our employees and colleagues and are a major part of discipleship under the sun. We must disciple least-reached peoples in how to live life in God’s Kingdom here and now, and so much of life is practiced at work.
The War is Won
On April 9, 1865, the American (United States of America) Civil War ended with General Robert E. Lee’s surrender to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse. Yet, the battle at Palmito Ranch in Texas was fought on May 13, 1863, a month after the war was over. Despite the fact that the war was won by the Union, 6 civil war battles were still fought after the official April 9 surrender (6 Civil War Battles After Appomattox – HISTORY).
In the same way, the war against sin and hebel is over. Death has been defeated, and hebel has been served notice. The battles we fight against them now are temporary in nature. It’s only a matter of time until we find our permanent rest from them in Eternity. We are no longer on our back foot against hebel but have been given the tools to fight it until That Day.
We can all fight it, even in our everyday work.
- The engineer can fight hebel by planning for what can go wrong and building a more resilient or anti-fragile system.
- The cost accountant can fight hebel by instituting helpful metrics instead of inducing an entire company to chase ridiculous ones.
- The line manager can fight hebel by helping her people see the meaning and value of their work and how what they do matters to society around them.
- The executive can fight hebel by caring about the lives of his employees, all the way down to the lowest one.
- The doctor can fight hebel by not just prescribing antibiotics for every issue but also working to find the root cause.
- The accountant can fight hebel by bringing the chaos of cash flows into order.
The list goes on and on. We can grease the wheels of society by inserting some grace in our interactions with everyone we come across.
Hebel is supposed to cause us to say: Maranatha!!! Come Lord Jesus!
Greg is the President of OPEN USA. He used his education to work as a tentmaker in the Middle East for 8.5 years seeking to plant a church amongst a least-reached people group. Currently back in the USA with his wife and children, they aim to return to finish what the LORD used them to start.
To learn more about B4T, read Business for Transformation by Patrick Lai.