Thursday, August 05, 2010

Does God Really Want us to Obtain Food by the Sweat of our Brows?

I have often heard claim that God commanded us to work for a living. While I don't dispute that work is a good thing, and Solomon made some statements supporting it, is it true to attribute such a commandment to God? Or should we just stick to pointing out its importance to our balanced developement?

Moses 5:1 says, "...Adam began to till the earth, and to have dominion over all the beasts of the field, and to eat his bread by the sweat of his brow, as I the Lord had commanded him..."

This is interpreted by many to say that the commandment that God was referring to was the latter statement about work.

As a contradiction to this claim we have the following statement by Christ to his disciples, relative to obtaining food and clothing etc.

"But you seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you." Matt 6:33

This presents that some are called upon to look to God for sustanance. So how could God be giving two contrary instructions making one a commandment? - particularly both being in the gospel.

Looking at the idea that we are commanded to work we can also quote the statement to Adam, made by God, in the Garden of Eden.

"In the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, until you return to the ground; for out of it were you taken: for dust you are, and to dust shall you return." Gen 3:19

Quoted on its own, one option would be to read this as a commandment. So let's look at the surrounding statements to see what they reveal relative to what this statement means.

Looking back at verse 17 we find _

"And to Adam he said, Because you have listened to what your wife said, and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat of it: cursed is the ground for your sake; in sorrow shall you eat of it all the days of your life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to you; and you shall eat the herb of the field." Gen 3:17-18

So God has pronounced a curse upon Adam because of his wrong action (as declared in verses 17-19 inclusive). The parts of this curse are that because of evil actions _

1. The ground won't produce its best.

2. Thorns and thistles will infest the ground.

3. That from then on we had to eat herbs also, instead of just seeds and fruit (Gen 1:29).

4. That we will now have to sweat from the work to get the ground to produce things.

5. That we will die and our bodies rot to dust.

Yet looking at this, number 4 doesn't come out as a commandment, merely a part of a curse. To turn these into commandments would be ridiculous looking at number 5 (not to mention the absurdity of seeing the first 2 as commandments).

So while I support productive living, I see this verse as being quoted out of context.

What does it matter, some may ask? It matters because God is giving a lesson for use in these verses which is being obscured by incorrect interpretation by people.

It would be better to quote Christ, in regard working _

"My Father is working up until now, and I work." John 5:17

This presents that both Christ and Heavenly Father are always working. Thus if we wish to do the same as them afterward, we must learn the principle of work now. Of course this is a spiritual work that they are engaged in.

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