Heaven is a place where believers “will rest from their labor” (Revelation 14:13), but many are surprised to learn that heaven, or the eternal state, will also be a place where we will work. We will have tasks to perform. In the New Jerusalem, the Lamb is on the throne, and “his servants will serve him” (Revelation 22:3). The idea of heaven being a place where we lounge on clouds, strumming harps, does not come from the Bible.
The thought of working in heaven may be distasteful to some, especially to those who have spent their lives in drudgery. But the “work” in heaven will be quite unlike our accustomed work in this world. Our job in eternity will simply be to serve the Lord. And we will be in a perfect environment.
God created us to work. From the beginning, humans were designed by the Lord to work; even before the fall, Adam had a job, as God placed him in the garden “to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15). Women, too, were designed to work, as God created Eve to be Adam’s “helper” (Genesis 2:20). Before the fall, the work God gave Adam and Eve was fulfilling, invigorating, and provided a sense of purpose. Only after the introduction of sin into the world did man’s job become difficult (Genesis 3:17–19). So, while work is good, the “painful toil” we experience today is a result of living in a fallen world.
Even in our sinful world, work is honorable and still has the capacity to provide purpose and fulfillment. The problem is that many things can get in the way of enjoying a job: interpersonal problems, mismanagement, unrealistic demands, physical or mental fatigue, etc. In contrast, work in heaven will be pleasant and satisfying. There will be no interpersonal conflicts, impractical expectations, or fatigue, and we’ll have the perfect Manager. As Randy Alcorn states in his book Heaven, “We’ll also have work to do, satisfying and enriching work that we can’t wait to get back to, work that’ll never be drudgery” (p. 331).
Another reason we believe that we will work in heaven is that God describes Himself as a worker. When asked by the Pharisees why He was, in their opinion, violating the Sabbath, Jesus replied, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working” (John 5:17). The idea of God’s children working in heaven should come as no surprise, since the Lord Himself works, and “we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).
Believers will have jobs in heaven, just as the angels have special jobs that they carry out in worship and adoration. Angels are “servants” who do God’s bidding (Hebrews 1:7). The angel who spoke to John called himself “a fellow servant with you” (Revelation 22:9). There are no unemployed angels in heaven, and there will be no unemployed saints.
In our current world, we have this command: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23). The work that Christians perform in heaven will have the same goal: to be an act of worship glorifying the Lord. The difference will be that, in eternity, the work that God has prepared for us will be instantly rewarding, constantly refreshing, and perfectly suited for who we were created to be.