Does our work today have meaning for eternity?
The book of Revelation provides some of the keenest insights in Scripture concerning the “big picture” of work. Yet it is a tough nut to crack, not only because of its intrinsic difficulty but because of the myriad interpretations that have grown up around the book.
John’s vision in chapters 4 and 5 of Revelation is in essence a visualization of the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Through Jesus’ faithful witness and sacrificial death, God’s kingdom will come in the visible world.
The most important insights into the big picture of work come in the concluding chapters of Revelation, where the worldly city Babylon is set against God’s city, the New Jerusalem. The introductions of the cities in Revelation 17 verse 1 and Revelation 21 verse 9 are set in clear parallel: “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great whore who is seated on many waters.” And “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the lamb.”
Babylon and her minions come to a terrifying end as a consequence of their idolatry and wickedness—including their economic practices, as we have seen in earlier sessions in this series. It might seem that any participation in the world economy—or even any local economy—must be so fraught with idolatry that the only solution is to withdraw completely and live alone in the wilderness. But Revelation offers an alternative vision of life together: the New Jerusalem.