Definition of work in the Bible
The term work or business was first initiated by God in the book of Genesis. It was introduced in the very beginning of the creation account. The term is first used in the Bible in Genesis 2:2. God had completed the work he had been doing, so on the seventh day he stopped working on everything that he had done. He fulfilled the work and rested. The word used for work there is mlakah which properly means deputyship. It means someone authorized to exercise the powers and appointed to represent and act on behalf of a king or higher authority. It has the same root as in malak in Hebrew which means a messenger, angel, priest, prophet, ambassador or king. But the word work we are more acquainted with is toil. A classic example of toiling labor is what the children of Israel went through in Egypt. We may say, well it was then and thank God we are living in an era of liberty and democracy. Yes and no. Egyptian bondage labor is just the primitive version of our modern rat race. The only difference is then they were enslaved to physical labor while today we are enslaved to a debt based economic system. It maybe not as bad as forced labor by flogging and scourging. We can be flogged many other creative ways today. For example the debt based system allows us to have anything under the sun instantly by credit. Then we are forced to work and pay the cost plus interest for the rest of our lives. Car loans, mortgages, student loans so goes the list. It is a blessing on one hand but curse in disguise on the other hand.
How is work different for the born-again ones?
Mlakah is enjoyable and not hard labor. The labor is done by the hosts of God on earth. When work and its incentives take charge of our lives, Mammon and his minions becomes our boss. It then gradually becomes servile work to the point that we no longer enjoy giving rather a burden. This servility attitude can affect work related to ministry or religious activities as well.
As His ambassadors and representatives the remnant’s work is walking in new nature that is already made ready. It is ordained beforehand so that we may walk in them (Eph 2:10). The assignment that is given to each of is already completed like God completed the work in Gen 2 . He then rested. The regenerate ones enter into the rest with Him (Heb 4:9-11). The rest that He talks about here is not rest as in hibernation. It is an active rest–a restful way of working and living. Walking in rest is to tread all around in the new nature daily. Heb 4:3. What is new nature? It is a regenerate nature in principle that one acts upon. It works little different to the human systems here. Good education leads to good job. Good job leads to good pay. In essence one way or the other we follow these rules to get by on earth.
The other word for word used is abodah in Hebrew which is more as in tillage, bondage or toil (Exo 5:11). The prevalent definition of work today is abodah– different forms of slavery systems that humans have invented since then. Both capitalism and socialism have their own versions of systems to enslave us. In Christ we are His bond servants and His deputies on earth. The world wants us to be his bond servant and deputies to none. The kingdoms of this world are claimed to be in Satan’s control and therefore he does not wan any representation of God’s kingdom on earth. Satan was willing to offer his usurped power to Jesus in the wilderness test. All Jesus was asked to do was an act of obeisance to have it all instead of going through the gruesome death on the cross.