Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you….Lift up your eyes and look about you: All assemble and come to you; your sons come from afar, and your daughters are carried on the hip….Herds of camels will cover your land, young camels of Midian and Ephah. And all from Sheba will come, bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the Lord. All Kedar’s flocks will be gathered to you, the rams of Nebaioth will serve you; they will be accepted as offerings on my altar, and I will adorn my glorious temple. Who are these that fly along like clouds, like doves to their nests? Surely the islands look to me; in the lead are the ships of Tarshish, bringing your children from afar, with their silver and gold, to the honor of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor. Foreigners will rebuild your walls, and their kings will serve you. Though in anger I struck you, in favor I will show you compassion. Your gates will always stand open, they will never be shut, day or night, so that people may bring you the wealth of the nations—their kings led in triumphal procession. (Isaiah 60:1, 4, 6-11)
Today concludes our four-week series exploring what Easter means for our work today. Over the past three weeks, we’ve seen how Easter gives us an identity, a King, and a mission. Today we’ll see how Easter points to an incredible incentive to do our work “as unto the Lord” (see Colossians 3:23).
But before we look at what that incentive is, we need to pause and appreciate something that is easy to overlook in the Easter narrative—namely that there is a continuation from the present world to the future one. Scripture makes clear that Jesus’s physical body was raised from the dead. This wasn’t an entirely new body. It was a redeemed, perfect version of Jesus’s physical body pre-death. Thus, the hope we have as Christ-followers isn’t for some disembodied existence in the clouds after we die. Our ultimate hope is, like Jesus, the resurrection and restoration of our physical selves.
What does this have to do with our work? The promise that our physical bodies will continue on from this life to the next makes it easier for us to grasp how our physical work might do the same.
This is what Isaiah is alluding to in today’s passage in his prophetic vision of the Kingdom of God. All the nations are coming into the New Jerusalem, but they are not coming empty-handed. They are bringing their very best work from the previous life. The people of Tarshish bring their ships (v. 9), Midian and Ephah bring their livestock (v. 6), and Sheba brings gold and frankincense (v. 6). Isaiah calls these cultural goods the “wealth of the nations.” John, in a strikingly similar vision in Revelation 21, calls these artifacts “the glory and honor of the nations.”
Isaiah and John are showing us how some of our work might physically cross over into the New Jerusalem, used by King Jesus to build and adorn His eternal Kingdom.
What sort of work will carry on? Scripture doesn’t say definitively, but I think it’s safe to assume it will be work that is created in line with the principles of King Jesus to whom we owe our allegiance.
You and I shouldn’t need an incentive to work with excellence. As we saw a few weeks ago, we should work with excellence as a loving response of worship to the King who redeemed us. But God in His great graciousness does give us incentive—an incentive that our work will be deemed by God to be among “the glory of the nations.” Work to that end today!