Obstacle Illusions Part 3
Over two years ago, I wrote Obstacle Illusions (Part 1 and 2) for the Family Table (on Google Groups). This week, again, I was doing some landscaping at the church (which was the impetus for the previous blogs) and echoes rang through my mind. As well as some scripture verses that needed to be put into the proper context.
First was from Ecclesiastes. What came to mind was “It is good for a man to work with his hands.” Guess what? It is not there. What I found (outside of Ecclesiastes) was:
He named him Noah and said, “This one will bring us comfort during our work and the hard labor that we must perform with our hands because the Lord has cursed the soil.” From <https://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=work+with+hands&version=EHV>
For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He knows your trek through this vast wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you. You have not lacked anything .
Make it your ambition to live a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, just as we instructed you.
What Ecclesiastes says is, “There is nothing better for a man than to eat and to drink and to find joy in his work. This too, I saw, is from God’s hand.” (Ecc 2:24) However, this was after much derision of “hard work”:
So I changed my course, and my heart began to despair over all my hard work at which I worked so hard under the sun. Sure, there may be a man who has worked hard—wisely, aptly, and skillfully. But he must hand over whatever he accumulated by all his hard work to a man who has not worked hard for it. This too is vapor. It’s so unfair! For what does a man gain through all his hard work, through all the turmoil in his heart, as he works so hard under the sun?
Pain fills all his days. His occupation is frustration. Even at night his heart does not rest. This too is vapor.
There is nothing better for a man than to eat and to drink and to find joy in his work. This too, I saw, is from God’s hand. For who can eat or enjoy himself apart from him? Yes, God gives wisdom, knowledge, and happiness to the man whom he considers good, but to the person who goes on sinning God gives the task of gathering and collecting, but only so that he can give it all to a person whom God considers good. This too is vapor, nothing but chasing wind.
There is something cathartic working in and with the soil, getting it ready to receive new seed. The Parable of the Sower came to mind. Also, Genesis 4:2 came to mind: Abel tended sheep, but Cain worked the ground. Then I came across this passage in John 4:
Jesus told them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, ‘Four more months and the harvest will be here’? Pay attention to what I am telling you. Open your eyes and look at the fields, because they are already ripe for harvest. The reaper is getting paid and is gathering grain for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may rejoice together. Indeed in this case the saying is true, ‘One sows, and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap a harvest for which you did no hard work. Others have done the hard work, and you have benefitted from their labor.”
Jesus is echoing the words from Ecclesiastes! Eating, drinking, working, and finding joy from the Father’s hand! The hard work you do benefits others, just as the hard work others have done benefit you!
Do not be like the Preacher (ESV) Ecclesiastes (EHV) and bemoan hard work; be like the Messiah, the Living Word of God and rejoice with the sower and the reaper doing the work set before you.
Trust the Promises,