A Theology of Work
2 Thessalonians 3:6-18
Truth Taught- The idle are to be admonished because they disrupt
and distort the Gospel
As we begin today, I want to lay out a brief Theology of Work. Today’s text from 2 Thessalonians speaks about the sin of idleness. Paul tells us that those who are idle are not following God’s order of things nor his example. He is going to teach us that those who are idle disrupt the peace within the Church. Finally, he writes that if someone does not work, he should not eat, nor should the Church associate with that person.
There is a connection between work and Gospel advancement. Remember, he has already commanded the Church to pray that the Gospel will run ahead and that evil men will be hindered. Now he goes right in to the subject of work/idleness so there is a connection.
The first thing we need to understand about work is that it is God’s desire that all of His people work. The idea of work and being productive is a godly concept that began before the Fall of Adam. It was set in place by God prior to sin and the curse. So, it is God’s will for His people to work and that work itself is not a product of the Fall or the curse that followed..
Genesis 1:27–31 (ESV)
27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
Where is work mentioned here?
29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.
The idea is that God created plants that yield fruit. In order to eat, you had to go and pick the fruit. So work was part of eating. God did not deliver to their doorstep. Adam and Eve had to go out and pick the fruit so they could eat. Eating then, is a direct result of their work.
Today we have jobs that pay money for our work and with the money we buy the food we need. The same command is true for us. You must work for food. If you don’t work, you don’t eat.
Now, since the Fall and the curse, work is harder. Before it was picking fruit to eat now it is toil and by the sweat of our brow, we work to earn money to buy food. I’m not saying that work is only physical labor, many work very hard at jobs that are not physical but still there is toil involved. Because of the curse work is difficult; it doesn’t go the way we want.
Exodus 25:9–22 (ESV)
Exactly as I Show You
1. God is the Architect of the Tabernacle (25:9)
9 Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.
As we begin looking in detail at the Tabernacle, it’s vital for us to understand its purpose. To do that let’s look to verse 8.
Exodus 25:8 (ESV)
8 And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst.
God’s purpose for the Tabernacle was to live with His people, that He would dwell in their midst. That He would be their God and they would be His people.
When God tells Moses He was going to show him a pattern the Hebrew is very interesting. It’s more than a set of blueprints. The word for Pattern has more to do with a three-dimensional model or a model prototype. It very well could be Moses built the Tabernacle according to this model God had shown him.
TABNIT- means scale model, pattern, replica
Speaking of the Tabernacle and all its furnishings,
Paul writes in Hebrews…
Hebrews 8:5 (ESV)
5 They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.”
The Tabernacle was approximately 40’ X 50’. It contained the outer and inner rooms. Outer room called the Holy Place…lampstand, alter, the table of bread. The Inner room or Holy of Holies contained the Ark of the Covenant.
The image for the Israelite who wondered if God was with them, simply looked to the Tabernacle, the place where God was sort of camping out with them.
This is the same language used by John for the incarnation of Jesus Christ.
John 1:14 (ESV)
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
God gave Israel the Tabernacle where He dwelt with them
God gave us His Son who has Tabernacled with us.
The Tabernacle was the place of worship for the Israelites as they traveled through their wilderness wandering.
Here too, we learn that God sets the parameters for man’s worship.
2. The Ark: the Centerpiece of the Holy of Holies (25:10-15)
10 “They shall make an ark of acacia wood. Two cubits and a half shall be its length, a cubit and a half its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. 11 You shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and outside shall you overlay it, and you shall make on it a molding of gold around it. 12 You shall cast four rings of gold for it and put them on its four feet, two rings on the one side of it, and two rings on the other side of it. 13 You shall make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. 14 And you shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry the ark by them. 15 The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it.
The very first thing God told Moses to make was the ark of the covenant. This piece of furniture was the first thing mentioned concerning the Tabernacle. So, before anyone started on the Tabernacle, they began to build the Ark.
This is not to be confused with Noah’s Ark. Here, ark means, wooden chest. In verses 10-15 we are given some of the technical specifications concerning the building of this sacred chest or ark. It measured about 4 feet X 3 feet and 3 feet tall. It was covered or plated with pure gold inside and out. Had four feet at the bottom to keep it from ever touching the ground. It had four rings at the bottom where gold plated poles would be slid through so the priests could carry it. These poles were to never be removed.
The purpose of these poles was so that once constructed, the ark was to never be touched with human hands.
Picture of the Ark
2 Samuel 6:1–11 (ESV)
6 David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. 2 And David arose and went with all the people who were with him from Baale-judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the Lord of hosts who sits enthroned on the cherubim. 3 And they carried the ark of God on a new cart and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. And Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart, 4 with the ark of God, and Ahio went before the ark.
5 And David and all the house of Israel were celebrating before the Lord, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals. 6 And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. 7 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God. 8 And David was angry because the Lord had broken out against Uzzah. And that place is called Perez-uzzah to this day. 9 And David was afraid of the Lord that day, and he said, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” 10 So David was not willing to take the ark of the Lord into the city of David. But David took it aside to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. 11 And the ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months, and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and all his household.
We must also take care to do things the way God tells us. God said that He wanted priests to carry the Ark with the poles because the Ark is sacred. So, if you choose to disregard those instructions and place what’s sacred on a new ox cart there will be consequences.
Christ is our Savior. Mankind cannot access God but through Jesus by faith. To attempt to access God by your own means will result in eternal condemnation. We cannot do holy things any way we desire but must obey God’s instructions.
God is Our Fortress
1. David’s Prayer for Deliverance (59:1-3)
2. David’s Prayer for the Judgement of the Wicked (59:4-5)
3. What David Fears, Makes God Laugh (59:6-8)
4. God is the Fortress for His People (59:9-10a)
5. David Asks God to Punish the Wicked (59:10b-13)
6. David is Confident in God’s Response (59:14-17)
Psalm 58:1–11 (ESV)
God Who Judges the Wicked and Rewards the Righteous
We spoke about the Imprecatory Psalms and Psalm 58 is one of the seven Psalms considered Imprecatory.
Psalm 6, 35, 58, 69, 83, 109 and 137)
There is a wartime attitude in these. David is praying down God’s judgement upon his enemies in very vivid language. God will always answer these scriptural prayers. David and Jesus pray together in this Psalm of God’s vengeance upon His enemies.
58 To the choirmaster: according to Do Not Destroy. A Miktam of David.
1. There is No Justice with Earthly Rulers (58:1-2)
1 Do you indeed decree what is right, you gods?
Do you judge the children of man uprightly?
2 No, in your hearts you devise wrongs;
your hands deal out violence on earth.
Here is God’s assessment of the wicked. David is basically, praying that even though the wicked know he is innocent they persecute him with false slanders and lies.
He’s acknowledging that tyrants in our world, those rulers, kings, judges and others in power, wield their power for their own advantage. They do not care about justice. While they are in power, their authority is like God’s in many ways. He uses gods to depict this power.
Here, we see David acting as a prophet as he looks through time and is shown by God how Jesus, the Son of David would be treated…
Matthew 26:1–5 (ESV)
26 When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, 2 “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”
3 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, 4 and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. 5 But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.”
As David wrote, they were not interested in justice but power and position.
Matthew 26:59–61 (ESV)
59 Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, 60 but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward 61 and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’ ”
They were not interested in justice at all but rather they were seeking a way to kill Jesus.
2. Injustice is Persistent and Without any Human Remedy (58:3-5)
3 The wicked are estranged from the womb;
they go astray from birth, speaking lies.
4 They have venom like the venom of a serpent,
like the deaf adder that stops its ear,
5 so that it does not hear the voice of charmers
or of the cunning enchanter.
In this section, David laments the incurability of injustice. Notice, he writes that its source is the heart. It begins at conception. Its methods are deceitful. Its consequences are deathly. Probably the worst thing…there is no earthly or human remedy.
David laments this very sad truth that is present in all human affairs. Among sinful fallen man there resides no real justice.
Let No One Deceive You in Any Way
2 Thessalonians 2:1-12
Truth Taught- Before the Lord’s return there will be a great apostasy and the man of lawlessness will be revealed.
As we begin this section, I think it is valuable for us to make sure we approach these verses as we would any section of Holy Scripture. Simply because it deals with eschatology many thr0w out the normal way, we should approach the Bible and rather than allowing the Scriptures to speak, they try very hard to squeeze the text into their accepted end-times chart.
As a new Christ I was greatly influenced by certain views of End Times. The Scofield Bible that walks you through a series of events in order was and is the accepted method of understanding End Times. I remember sitting at my kitchen table with my Bible and Charts by Clarence Larkin which also mapped out on very large pages what was going to take place.
I remember one day sitting in Sunday School class with the quarterly lesson book which was teaching the different major prophetic systems. It covered Amillennialism, Postmillennialism and Premillennialism. I remember saying why don’t they just teach us the right one rather than three options?
My goal here is somewhat impossible. I want to approach this text without any End-times systems in my head. However, we know we all come to the Bible with certain preconceived ideas and yet let’s allow the Bible to have preeminence rather than a certain system we may hold dear. I would add, probably hold too dear.
There have been some theologians who write that these verses before us today are some of the most difficult to interpret in all of Scripture.
We will set the context, get a sense of what Paul is doing when he writes to his friends, and based on grammatical historical interpretation seek to understand Paul’s point. I pray we let the Bible speak to us and not place our views upon the Bible.
2 Thessalonians 2:1–12 (ESV)
2 Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, 2 not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. 5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6 And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
1. The Substance of the False Teaching (2:1-3a)
2 Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, 2 not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one deceive you in any way.
What is Paul’s focus? His focus is pastoral. His desire is to comfort the young Christians of Thessalonica who have been deceived by false teachers.
So, his goal is to set the record straight in order to comfort them. He’s not teaching all there is concerning End Times. He tells us what the subject of his teaching is…notice…