Got a project that you’re proud of at work? Better hurry up and get it done because all work is soon coming to an end. Machines are taking over; it’s the end of work. Some greet the news with dismay, What will people do with all that leisure? Others eagerly anticipate a world of all play and no work. Some say humans will no longer have to work. Others say humans will no longer get to work. But all agree this major change is on the horizon.
For those of you eager to hear that you can sleep late this Monday morning, I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that work is not coming to an end. The good news is the same. This provocative and puerile prediction has been a staple of everyone from foolish social scientists to bogus futurists for a long time.
The earliest modern warning that I could find saying that machines will bring about the end of human work, is The Elements of Commerce, Politics, and Finances, a book written by British economist Thomas Mortimer, published in 1801. On page 72, for instance, he describes how water-powered sawmills do the work of many men and must therefore be legislated out of existence.
The same warning continually pops up in numerous books and articles appearing through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In the sixteen years of the 21st century alone, I have read more than twenty books and articles breathlessly announcing…yes, you’ve got it…the end of work!
When I was a young boy I was sent occasionally to spend a few weeks on my mother’s family farm, near the small and remote South African town of Cradock. My job was helping to bring the cows into the milking shed and then returning them to the pasture twice a day. I learned what manure was. Before my bar mitzvah, my very first business was clearing a farmer’s cow pasture and selling the results to plant nurseries for fertilizer. I knew what manure was. I still know what manure is. And ancient Jewish wisdom equips me with a wonderful, fail-safe, manure detector.
When so-called experts announce that within five years men will date female robots, I am taken back to that faraway farm in South Africa. Careful where you step! When so-called experts proclaim that only shortage of money is preventing American public schools (which, on my weekly podcasts, I irreverently, but accurately call Government Indoctrination Camps) from achieving academic excellence I am reminded of the redolent fragrance of—manure! And when I am repeatedly told that the increasing sophistication of machines means the impending extinction of work, my manure-detector powers up into overdrive.
We need only remember that the automobile didn’t create mass-unemployment of former wagon drivers and blacksmiths. Sewing machines and tractors didn’t put seamstresses and ploughmen out onto the street. Oh, these inventions caused disruption all right, but before long, new opportunities and new jobs replaced the old, in vaster numbers than anyone could have anticipated. Labor saving devices proliferated around the home during the second half of the twentieth century. This did not transform American women into idle homemakers wondering what to do with all their free time.
There’s something else we need to remember:
And the Lord God took the Adam and placed him in the Garden of Eden
to WORK it and to guard it. – (Genesis 2:15)
That didn’t mean only Adam. God didn’t say people should work, “…until I help them invent tractors and automated farming equipment.” God places each of us into our own Garden of Eden. We each are obliged to work it and guard it. Forever.
Then there is the fourth commandment:
Six days you shall WORK and accomplish all your work…
God is not advising us that we need only work six days a week until technology redeems us. He is laying out His eternal pattern for mankind.
But wait, that’s not all. Regular readers already know that anytime a Hebrew word in Scripture means both ‘A’ as well as ‘B’, the real meaning of that word is an amalgam of both ‘A’ and ‘B’. Well, the Hebrew word that means WORK in the above verses is AVoDah.
Here are two of many verses in which that same word, AVoDah, has a different meaning.
…so said the Lord, God of the Hebrews, send out my people, so they may WORSHIP me.
…and as for me and my house, we shall WORSHIP the Lord.
Sure enough, throughout Scripture, the same word, AVoDah, meaning work, also means worshiping God.
Do you see this shocking idea? Doing our daily work IS worshiping God. What I might have mistakenly considered to be a menial occupation, taking time from my relating to God, is actually part of the holy act of worship. No work that I do which helps or benefits any of God’s other children can ever be menial. It is an act of holiness. That’s right; going to work on Monday morning is another way of worshiping our Creator. Does this sound like something God is about to bring to an end? No, I didn’t think so either.
Every modern technical innovation and every astounding new mechanical invention has always opened up exciting and undreamed of opportunities for more and more of God’s children. Why would that pattern now change?
Furthermore, even if all my current needs could be satisfied by my mechanical butler and other shiny new machines, what about the desire that springs into my infinite soul tomorrow? Once again, limitless human curiosity coupled with limitless human ingenuity will satisfy limitless human demand for something bigger, newer, and better.
Work will never end though the specific way you benefit humanity needs constant careful adjustment. Go to our store and save money on our Income Abundance Set, changing the way you think about work and money and learning strategies for ensuring that you thrive financially even in a challenging and evolving economy. These two hardcover books and three audio CDs revealing ancient Jewish wisdom have helped tens of thousands of people earn more, serve humanity more, and enjoy working more. Join them.