Work Is Great, Beer Is Good And People Are Crazy


“I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have.”  These are purportedly Leonardo DaVinci’s last words.  Five hundred years of art critics would disagree with DaVinci’s assessment of his work, but that is not the point here.

What is intriguing is DaVinci, perhaps the greatest painter who ever lived, had such a high standard of excellence, he believed what he produced was offensive to God.  It would be easy to write-off DaVinci’s statement as false humility, but I think there is more here.

DaVinci would not have thought his effort offensive to God unless he believed God saw work as something sacred that demanded excellence.  On this point he was right.  The first two chapters of Genesis record God working (“…and by the seventh day God completed His work…”) and then commenting on the quality of His work (“…God saw all that He had made and behold it was very good.”).  (Gen. 2:2).

When religious leaders criticized Jesus for working on the Sabbath Jesus said, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” (John 5:17).  That must mean God was working from the time of creation until the time of Jesus, and I suspect He has continued to work since then. If God has been working continuously there must be something right about it.

And then there are numerous admonitions in the Bible about hard work and excellence like, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Eccl. 9:10), “Whatever you do, do your work with all your heart, as for the Lord and not for men…” (Col. 3:23) and “Do you see a man skilled in his work, he will stand before kings” (Prov. 22:29). Even after the kingdom of God has transformed the earth, people will be working, building houses and planting vineyards. (Isaiah 65:21). God has a very high view of labor.

It’s man who has denigrated and despised labor.  We live for the weekends and look forward to the holidays.  We can’t wait until five o’clock so we can leave the office.  We work and save and work and save so we can retire as soon as possible.  We act as if work is a necessary evil and that the higher calling is rest and relaxation.  We have it backwards.  In this respect we are the ones who are crazy. Rest is essential and holidays like Labor Day are nice, i.e. “beer is good.” Even God rested after He had worked. (Gen. 2:2).  But rest is not the highest calling.

So, have a great Labor Day–if I haven’t ruined it for you–but look forward to getting back to work on Tuesday where you can please God with your hard work and excellence. GS

Isaiah 11

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Have you ever watched one of those nature documentaries where they show lions chasing down, killing and eating zebras or wildebeests or some other animal?  The narrators talk about this savagery like it’s something beautiful and natural; they call it the “wonderful balance of nature” or some other euphemism designed to make us feel better about murder in the animal kingdom.  I watch and think there is something very unnatural about animals killing and eating other animals.

The Book of Genesis provides support for my perception. God’s revelation of how things were in the beginning paints a picture of animals in perfect harmony with man and each other.  It shows God assigning for both man and beast a diet of fruit and plants. (Genesis 1:29-30). All that changed when man rebelled against God, thereby introducing the curse and corrupting influence of sin into creation.

Isaiah 11 promises the reconciliation of nature in these particulars during the Kingdom Age:

“And the wolf will dwell with lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little boy will lead them. Also the cow and the bear will graze; their young will lie down together; and the lion will eat straw like the ox.  And the nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den.  They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”  (Isaiah 11:6-9).

Dogs and cats living together, children putting their hands in a viper’s den and playing next to a cobra yet “they will not hurt or destroy.” (Isaiah 11:8-9). This is a picture of the reconciliation of the animal kingdom with itself, man and its creator.

If animals aren’t eating one another, what will they eat?  They will eat what they were intended to eat from the beginning (Genesis 1:29-30), e.g., “the lion will eat straw like the ox.” (Isaiah 11:7).

Don’t be fooled into thinking what is is what was intended or that what is is what will be.  The transformational power of King Jesus and His Kingdom are game-changers. GS

Isaiah 9

I’m halfway to the finish line in my plan of reading the Bible through in a year chronologically, that is, reading the Bible in the historical order in which the events it records occurred. I highly recommend it.  While it requires some skipping around, it brings a continuity to the historical sections and a relevance to the prophetic sections of the Bible you wont get from merely reading the Bible from cover to cover. You can download the daily reading plan here, and you can start any time.

I started on January 1, 2010 and, according to plan, I’m about halfway through the Bible, in Isaiah to be exact.  Last week I read through Isaiah 9 and came across one of my favorite Kingdom scriptures in verses 6-7:

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders, and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore.  The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this”

There are at least 4 conclusions one can glean about the kingdom of God from these two verses:

1.  God’s kingdom is a government. God’s kingdom is not merely a realm or an experience but a government, and governments exist to manage, people, places and things, in other words, the earth.

2.  The Kingdom will bring peace on earth. Jesus is described as the Prince of Peace, and as His kingdom spreads so does the peace that is characteristic of its King and kingdom. That peace is planted first in man’s heart, and like anything in man’s heart it is manifested in his word and deed.  Bottom line: as the kingdom continues to advance on the earth, war will gradually become a thing of the past.

3.  The kingdom of God will grow. “There will be no end to the increase of His government…from then on and forevermore.”  “Then” refers to the birth of the child, i.e. the birth of Jesus, and from that time on the kingdom of God will continue to grow.  This is good news.  No cowering in the corner waiting for Jesus to return, but victorious expansion and progress as the earth is transformed into the place God intended from the beginning.

4.  God’s enthusiasm for His kingdom guarantees its success on earth. His zeal ensures these things Kingdom promises will be accomplished (v.7).

This is all good news for citizens of the kingdom of God, which is why it’s one of my favorite passages in the Bible.  GS

Isaiah 2

I was reading Isaiah chapter 2 earlier this week, a chapter that always excites me about the destiny of the kingdom of God. In the first three chapters of Isaiah, the Lord rebukes Israel for abandoning Him and forewarns them of the judgment He is about to bring on them from the Assyrians. But nestled in the beginning of chapter 2, seemingly out of place against the backdrop of rebuke and judgment, is a promise about the Kingdom Age:

“Now it will come about that in the last days the mountain of the house of the Lord will be established as the chief of the mountains, and will be raised above the hills; and all the nations will stream to it. And many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that He may teach us concerning His ways and that we may walk in His paths.’ For the law will go forth from Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He will judge between nations, and will render decisions for many peoples; and they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war.” (Isaiah 2:2-4).

Here’s three quick points from this passage as it relates to the kingdom of God:

1. As the kingdom of God advances on the earth, the Church will become preeminent in the earth. The Church–the body of true believers, not the institution–will be established as the “chief of the mountains” (v.2). There will still be opposition, but the Church will ascend to a position of clear preeminence.

2. As the kingdom of God advances on the earth, the world will look to Christians for leadership. Isaiah describes it as non-Christians persuading one another to “go up to the mountain of God” so they can learn His ways and be subjected to His earthly justice (vv.3-4).  Earthly justice is a repeating theme and indicia of the kingdom of God, but I will save that topic for a future post.

3. As the kingdom advances, commerce will replace warfare. As the kingdom of God brings economic prosperity, the traditional reasons for war will lose their appeal. The tools of commerce will replace the tools of warfare, people will become more productive and less destructive (“they will hammer their swords into plowshares”), and as people prosper war will become a thing of the past. (v. 4).

There are good things ahead for the kingdom of God, it’s citizens and the world. GS