For us, Feast Builders here, preaching is a kind of work.

Since we are talking about rest, we want to rest todayJ. So, we invited guests to help us give the talk today.

Today, I am blessed to share with you that through our talk series here at The Feast, we have learned to synergize our efforts. You know, when you are working with people and you’re combining outputs from different people, you get something better than what you can alone.

Last year, we went through the entire Bible– from Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy.

What has made it easy for us Builders– even Bro. Bo– to prepare the talks are the Bible Nerds. They are a group of young people who research backgrounders for our talks. It makes it easier for us to identify the theological concepts and mystery behind what we are reading so we can apply them in practical ways.

We invited two of them for a table discussion about our talk today on Work. Please welcome Tisha Caro and Bene Sanchez. And, of course, Bro. Alvin Barcelona, our main preacher.

So, we are sitting down–resting and working.

The Reality: Two Kinds of Work
JOHN BEN: It’s kind of hard to connect work with rest. But in the Bible, there are two kinds of work:

Tisha, please tell us more about it.

TISHA: As we know it today, work means our jobs that consume five to six days of our week and at least eight hours of each day. A big part of our lives is spent on work. It’s what we need to do. It puts food on our table. It allows us to pay for our electricity bills, groceries…For the majority, it’s hard and tiring. At times, when I ask people, “How are you?” They would respond, “I’m tired. I want to quit.”

That is the reality.

BENE: Genesis 3 reflects our reality today. Let’s read the verse>

As soon as we wake up, we think of how we will survive for the day. So, we go to work and do chores we don’t want to do.

We go to meetings that could have been done through email. Do all the paperwork that nobody wants to fill up.

Question: Was that what God intended for you and me?

TRISHA: Yeah. If God is good, why did He have to make us work? Why can’t we just relax? But if we look at the first page of the Bible, we’ll see how God intended work to be.

In the Bible, we read that the very first worker was God. In Genesis 1, He showed us how He worked. He brought light. He separated the waters so that life could live in it. He created dry land. He made livestock. He made vegetation. Work was made for beauty and for benefit. God created these things because He wanted humans to benefit from the world He created. That’s how He imagined work to be: beautiful and beneficial– not only for me, but also
for the people around me.

Work Before the Fall

JOHN BEN: Work in its original design was supposed to be better than we know it today. God was supposed to be in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. Genesis was referring to that moment when Adam and Eve decided to take matters into their own hands– to know what’s good and evil.

BENE: That’s right. Work becomes a struggle when we try to redefine good and evil. When we think that there isn’t enough, we try to create our abundance and prosperity at the expense of others.

That’s what Adam and Eve did when they took the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They were trying to create their own pseudo Eden or fake Eden– even if God had already provided everything for them.

Sometimes, that’s what happens to us. This is not for everybody, but some work to escape or to get more even when they don’t need more. Many people work because they have no choice.

We’re talking about Genesis 3 and it is kind of like a thought experiment.

Adam and Eve already had everything they needed but still, they took what was not theirs.

I think it’s such a profound reflection of our reality because in our world today, there are employers who, even when they already have a lot, still take from their employees. They take their time. They don’t recognize their efforts. They create these conditions where it’s difficult to work in.

Sometimes, we think Genesis 3 is saying God intended work for us humans to have a hard time in our work. But actually, I think Genesis 3 also talks about how we humans are giving our neighbors a harder time in their work.

JOHN BEN: I love that. Nowadays, work can feel like slavery. It’s important that if you are a person of authority, you must be aligned with God’s purpose. The decisions that you make affect the work of people around you.

BENE: In Genesis 1, we see that the original intention of work was to bring beauty and benefit. Genesis 3 reflects what work looks like today.


BENE: This is not just for bosses. This is also how we treat our co-workers– when we pass on the work we could have done to our co-workers– because we want to exert just a minimum amount of effort. We need to go to the essence of why work is important. Work before the Fall of Adam and Eve was completely different.

TISHA: Work was a gift from God to humans because He wanted to partner with humans. As an image of God, humans were created to work.

BENE: If God was described as the first worker in the Bible, and if humans were made in His image, then we were made to work– just like God. It makes perfect sense — that the reason God put humans in the Garden was for them to work, to tend the Garden, and to take care of this project that God started– which is the Garden. Work now is different from how God designed it to be. In the beginning, God created work to be a partnership between humans and Him. The first co-partners were God and humans. For many of us, we feel that our co-workers are not like GodJ

JOHN BEN: At times, our own scarcity gets the best of us. We think: “Since the output of our work will depend on me, I will do everything in my power to achieve my goals.” Sometimes, that’s where the conflict comes in.

We need to have the idea that when we are working with God, we are working amid surplus.

TISHA: That’s why Adam and Eve took fruit from the tree. They didn’t see that surplus. They didn’t think that it was more than enough.

When we begin to think that what we have is not more than enough, then work becomes a struggle.

JOHN BEN: After the Fall, the struggle continued for the Israelites. They needed to work hard, and they ended up in slavery. So, they had a different understanding of the meaning of the Sabbath.

I know Bro. Alvin has experience about this in the Holy Land– how the Israelites took the Sabbath seriously.

ALVIN: It’s such an honor and a joy to be sitting with Ben, and Bene. and Bini (lady Trisha)– Bible Nerds. Me, I’m just a nerdJ

This is a serious but real and practical talk. We’re talking about work before the Fall of man — before Adam and Eve sinned and had to work after their fall. This means there was already work before the Fall.

People thought that work only came after Adam and Eve sinned. People thought that work came as a punishment. Until now, many people think that work is a punishment: “Because you sinned, you have to work!”

So, we always think of a way to get out of work. What you said, Bene and Tisha, is beautiful: Even before the Fall, work was there with a beautiful, blessed, and sacred purpose.

BENE: Adam and Eve’s work was to expand the Garden. The Garden was a place where God, humans, and all of creation could live and dwell in harmony.

When the serpent came, that’s when everything got messed up.

ALVIN: As you were saying, God was the first worker. The Bible starts with the idea of God working and creating. God created man not just to be His co-creator but also as His co-worker.

BENE: Yes. Because the Garden was not the entire Earth. Part of God’s plan was for humans to expand the Garden, expand God’s goodness, and expand the space where all creation can dwell and be one with God on all the Earth. That’s what work was meant to do. It should be life-giving.

TISHA: For yourself and for others.

Understanding the Sabbath

ALVIN: Work before the Fall was out of surplus. They did not need work to survive but to serve God and others. Abundance was all around them.

Why did they need to work? To serve God and others. But it happened that there was a division between work and rest.

Ben, you were asking about how the Jews regarded the Sabbath. To us, their interpretation was extreme…

The first time I went to the Holy Land, the day I arrived happened to be a Sabbath day. I observed that the Jews have so much respect for the Sabbath that they were forbidden to even lift a finger — because that was considered work. When I rode an elevator, I noticed the elevator would stop at each of the floors– all floors. Why? On the Sabbath Day, the doors were programmed to automatically open per floor– because people weren’t allowed to press the elevator number of the floor they were supposed to go to. Because just clicking the floor number was considered work.

But again, we respect their interpretation of the Sabbath. This also means we should have a deeper understanding of the context of rest– because you’re saying that work and rest can go together.

TISHA: When God created the human,

He placed the man in the Garden. The word place in Hebrew is nuakh which, as we learned last time, means to dwell or to rest.

So, God rested (placed) the man in the Garden. To what? To work.

The Bible verse:

Working with God Is Restful

BENE: Humans are called to rest or to dwell with God, and also to work with God.

JOHN BEN: To work in the Garden to rest.

It’s like saying you go to office to work– so you can rest?

BENE: I think the reason the biblical author worded it that way was for us to understand that when we work with God, it’s restful.

ALVIN: I can relate to that. If you’re a parent like me, you work at home but it’s also your way to rest. You do it out of love for your children and your spouse. Right now, we are preaching — we’re working. But since we enjoy doing it, we’re also resting.

We’re sitting here.

May I just share… I just had a five-day tour again in Mindanao. Travel time from Davao to Mati was about three hours. After a day, I traveled to Tagum for two hours. From there, I traveled for six hours to Butuan for an event. After that, I went to Surigao which was six hours away– on the fourth day. On the fifth day, I went back to Davao.

From Davao, I went back to Manila. I arrived here yesterday at 1 A.M. But this morning, I am here in front of you. Some people ask me if I ever rest or sleep.

But you know, what I do is not even half of what Bro. Bo does. Last Monday, we were together for a whole day event. While Bro. Bo was waiting for his turn to talk onstage, he was writing (typing on his computer). Having known Bro. Bo for a long time, I can say writing is his way of resting.

As for me, when I give talks or when I sing, that’s my rest.

Of course, we also need to stop and sleep. But what I’m saying is that when we work with the Lord and for the Lord, the work becomes rest and becomes sheer enjoyment. Even after a tiring day at work, some mothers find rest in cooking for their family. Some wives find rest when preparing the clothes that their husband would wear. Some fathers find rest by fixing broken light bulbs at home.

For them, that’s not work. It becomes rest because they do it out of love.

Work and Rest Together

JOHN BEN: You said that the word nuakh means rest. But it also means to settle in. I think this aligns with what Bro. Alvin is saying.

In your journey with the Lord, you have found that this is the work that He has asked you to tend to and to settle in. In that process, it becomes restful because you are settled in what God wants you to do.

I think that this is something that each of us needs to discover.

You need to know and find what God is asking you to settle into.

When I was a new father, I had a hard time because there seemed to be no day off. My child has a medical condition which makes it harder. But when we started appreciating that it was the Garden that God gave us to tend to, the ease started flowing in even if it was still difficult. Maybe that was what God meant about man resting and working at the same time.

ALVIN: Currently, Bro. Bo is in Australia for a city tour. In between, he is writing a book.

To him, that is work and rest together.

BENE: The reality is that not all of us love our work. And even if we do, we don’t always like the things that come with it. Since that is the fallen reality that we live in today, we need the Sabbath. We need to rest.

But maybe, Genesis is telling us to recognize the moments when in the middle of our busyness at work, God is there. If God is there, He can turn the most mundane into something beautiful that can bring life to you and others. Maybe, it requires a change in perspective.

Say to yourself, “When I go to work tomorrow, I’m not just working with my boss. I’m not just working with my co-workers. I’m co-working with God by expanding His Garden through my work or my business.”

TISHA: We can also ask, “For today, how can I be more life-giving to the person next to me?

How can I find value in what I’m doing even if it’s just a small thing?”

When we see the value of how we can be life-giving, work has profound meaning.

The Goal: Back to Eden

ALVIN: After the Fall of man, work has its redemptive value. When man was banished from the Garden, God did not vanish. Of course, the goal was for man to go back to the Garden where work and rest are one with the Lord. But what you’re saying is that even outside the Garden, whatever job you have, the Lord is there.

JOHN BEN: A big hand to Bene and Tisha. Thank You, Lord, for sending them today.

Friends, if you need to learn more, listen to the Bible Nerds’ podcast.

ALVIN: We should do more of this. Thank you to the Bible Nerds team. They help us a lot by providing so much learning and input for our talk every Sunday. Behind our talks are brilliant scholars of the Bible. We need them. We love them.

Thank you so much, Bene and Tisha.


Work and rest. Should they go together? Actually, that’s the original purpose of the Lord.

By the way, the Filipino word for work is not trabaho — that’s Spanish.

The Filipino word for work is hanapbuhay. It means that you can find life in your work. Not all of your life is about work. But 60%-80% of our lives are spent at work. If you don’t experience life at work, then you’re wasting 60%-80% of your life. So, you might as well find your purpose at work and find your rest at work.

How? Let me tell you a story.

I have two jobs that I love the most– teaching and singing. I’m a teacher and also a singer. When I was teaching in classrooms, my favorite moment was when I would be observed by our principal.

Normally, teachers don’t like it when they are being observed by the principal. But as for me, I loved it. Why? The principal was my mother. I had the chance to show I’m good not only to my principal but to my mother as well.

I prepared very well. The day before, I had the classroom cleaned–floor waxed and all. I used colored chalk writing on the blackboard, “Welcome, Principal!”

I advised my students to wear their best uniform. I advised them to perform well. I sang my opening prayer…My mother proudly applauded me.

As time went by, I improved in teaching. Why? Because I would always imagine my principal-mother sitting at the back observing me.

Why I Work Well

Singing. How did I become a good performer?

In my early years of singing, my first gig was Ka Freddie’s in Tagaytay, a bar owned by the legendary composer and singer, Mr. Freddie Aguilar. Before that, my group then won a band singing contest and the prize was that we would regularly play at Ka Freddie’s every Tuesday night.

Saturday night, the bar is full. Tuesday, however, was a slow night for bars. We were lucky if one or two people showed up. Despite that, we did our best. Why? The bar manager told us that Ka Freddie would come and watch our show. But for the three months that we were there, Ka Freddie never showed up.

Nonetheless, we still gave our best just in case Ka Freddie would come in.

One day, the bar manager informed us that we would not play on Tuesday nights anymore. Whoa?! But he quickly added that we would play every Saturday night which was the day that Ka Freddie would normally sing. We would be

Ka Freddie’s front act.

It turned out that Ka Freddie heard us sing in one of our Tuesday acts and he was impressed with our performance. Hence, we became his front act.

And Ka Freddie did not only watch us– he also jammed with us at times.

Inspiration: Iconic Freddie Aguilar; and Bro. Alvin singing

Anak for Praise and Worship Community,

National Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

My Work Secret

How did I learn to do my best even if no one watched my performance?

This is a lecture that I would tell when I was teaching Literature.

In Old England, there was this great theater monologue actor. There was a time when he was about to start his show but for some reason, there were only two persons in the audience — one in front and one in the balcony who was sleeping.

To motivate himself and the crew, the actor lied.

He told the crew that the Duke of England was one of the two spectators. Naturally, everyone– from the curtain raiser to the orchestra– did their job well. It turned out to be the greatest performance they ever did.

The one watching in front stood, applauded, shouting “Bravo! Bravo!” So, the actor was thrilled that at least, he was able to make one person happy.

The next day, the actor woke up to the sound of a knock on his door. When he opened it, he saw royal guards. The guards asked him to come with them to the palace. He thought he had done something wrong, but he followed them, anyway. When he arrived at the palace, a red carpet was laid out for him… and he could see a man at the end of the carpet clapping his hands.

To the actor’s surprise, it was the guy who sat in front and watched his show.

He turned out actually to be the Duke of England!

The Duke told him, “The reason hardly anybody was watching you, everybody went on a trip. I was going with them, but my driver got sleepy. So, I thought

I might as well just sleep too. But I saw you perform. You were giving your best– even though only one person was watching you. So, I called for you.

Kneel and I will make you a royal actor.”

This is my secret. Wherever I go and whatever I do, I give my best– whether it’s teaching, singing, preaching, or writing. I think neither my mother, Ka Freddie, nor the Duke of England are the only people watching me. The King of Kings is watching me. He’s not only watching me. He is working with me. That just puts me on fire to give my best in everything I do.

This series of talks radicalizes our understanding of work and rest. For many of us, rest may mean lying on a hammock or watching and binging on Netflix. Those are not bad. I do watch on Netflix.

But today, we learn that work and rest can go together. That even if you’re working, it can be your rest time because you’re happy with what you are doing and God is with you.

Signs of Eternal Sabbath

Not many people, however, are happy with their work. That’s why we need six days of work and one day of rest. I told you earlier that I got home at 1 A.M. from a trip. But why am I here this early? Because this is my rest. This is where I get my strength so I can joyfully work from Monday to Saturday. I get reconnected to Christ while I’m here and when I leave this building,

I bring Him with me not only on a Sunday but from Monday to Saturday.

So, if you think you are alone in what you do, this talk is a reminder that God is with you. He applauds what you do. But He also tells you to take care of yourself.

That’s why He says in Matthew 6:23:

God honors the work of your hands, but He also wants you to rest and replenish so you can celebrate relationships. But many of us cannot rest. We have many reasons not to rest– bills to pay, deadlines at work, and many more. You’re like, “I’m the only one who can do this.”

So, you work even on Sundays, up to the wee hours of the morning. Ah, this is where trusting in the Lord takes place.

Some jobs and businesses take place 24/7– such as call centers because of the international time differences. But call center employees cannot work for 24 hours. They need to go home and sleep. So, how does the business continue? The answer is simple. The management hires more employees so that all shifts are covered.

Brothers and Sisters, God covers for you. He wants you to sleep and rest.

Don’t be afraid and don’t worry. He is there to take over.

At work, you do your best. But when it’s time to rest, you rest.

God will do the rest. What you need is to trust that the Father continues to work with you even when you’re resting or sleeping.

But here’s the bad news: On your own, no matter how hard you work or strive or toil, you cannot enter the Garden.

Yet, here’s the good news: Through His Cross, Jesus opened the gates of Eden for you. When we are with Jesus, we re-enter the Garden where work and rest are one because God wants to work and rest with you.

Let me pray for you.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Put your hand on your heart. For a moment, think of your work. Are you tired? Your burden is heavy? Or you’re trying to find meaning in what you are doing? Today, God reminds you of the significance and sanctity of work.

With God, your work, purpose, mission, and rest can be one.

What we need is to trust that God is our partner, that He wants to work with us.

I pray Psalm 90:17 for you> God loves us. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

This story was first published in the Feast Family Online News Magazine

Published by THE FEAST (June 30, 2024)


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