It’s a Dirty Job, but Someone Has to Do It!

by Paula Schnittger

Have you heard that saying? It came to my mind this Labor Day so I wanted to know what were some of the dirty jobs in the Bible and who had to do them.

Some jobs are just hard.

Can you imagine being the one in charge of fettering the demoniac of Gadarenes? (Lk 8:29) The demoniac broke his chains and would run out of the tombs into the wilderness but the impression you get when you read the passage is that this happened more than once.

How about being appointed to collect Jezebel’s body from the street to give her a proper burial? (2 Kings 9:34-37) They went back to the street where her body had been only to find just the hands & feet remained!

I had heard of a group in modern Israel that collects bodies and body parts after accidents or terrorist actions. After checking it out, I discovered that their name is “Zaka” and they are assigned to police districts to help identify the dead for burial. It would even include the bodies of terrorists.

Cooking has its own dangers but imagine you are appointed to the job as cook for the school of prophets. There were only men and perhaps the cook was new at the job. Whatever he collected that morning for the stew should have been left out! Ever hear the saying, “There’s death in the pot!”? They called on Elisha to help them and God used him to remove the harm from the pot. (2 Kings 4:38 ff)

Another hard job was being a Levite involved in the sacrificial system of the Old Testament. One event came to my mind: The dedication of Solomon’s temple. In 1 Kings 8:63 it says there were 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep sacrificed. Can you imagine doing that job? What a clean up!

Some did their job without regard to the outcome.

The Hebrew midwives were in this catagory because their “boss” (the Pharoah) had told them to kill the baby boys when they were born (Exodus 1:16 ff). They disobeyed the Pharoah without regard of the outcome.

Naaman was a general in the Syrian army. A Hebrew slave girl told her mistress about Elisha and the God of Israel who could cure leprosy. Naaman’s servants heard the instructions that Elisha had given to Naaman (2 Kings 5:13 ff) and, at the risk of his anger, begged him to follow Elisha’s instructions and wash in the Jordan River.

Paul and Silas had been praying and singing in their cell after being beaten for the gospel’s sake. After the earthquake (Acts 16:25 ff), the Philippian jailer became a believer and washed their wounds. There could have been repercussions for his act of kindness (the Scriptures don’t say) but he did it out of the joy of knowing Christ.

Remember Jeremiah? He suffered much at the hands of the religious leaders and was finally dropped into a murky pit (Jeremiah 38:6-13). Jeremiah was rescued by a man with no regard to the consequences – an Ethiopian eunuch!

Others had jobs that they should not have been doing.

Both of these jobs that came to my mind were jobs that a Hebrew should not be doing because of the laws that God had given them.

Back to the Gadarene demoniac. There was a herd of swine nearby that the demons begged Jesus to let them enter the swine. The whole herd ran off the cliff into the lake and drowned. The ones who fed the swine saw what happened and told everyone in the city what Jesus did. Remember how the people reacted? They wanted Jesus to leave! Only the former possessed man wanted to go with Jesus but he was told to stay and testify the great things God had done (Luke 8:31-39).

Then there was the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11 ff). After he spent his inheritance the only job he could find was feeding the pigs – something no self-respecting Jew would ever do. Yet God allowed him to go to that depth of despair in order to bring him back to his father.

Maybe after hearing about these jobs you are thinking, “My job may not be as bad as I thought.” What does God say to us? “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (Colossians 3:23) The Lord is the One for whom we are to work! Keep that in mind as you go back to work on Tuesday.

But, what if you are retired and don’t have a job? My father had three retirements! The first one was from the Army at the ripe old age of 48. The next two retirements were from Christian ministries. The Great Commission is the continued job of all Christians, retired or not. You may not have the earthly boss you once had but you still have the heavenly One! God can become your total focus at this point in life. You can become more active in your church and among people because time has been opened up for you. Age is never a hindrance in the work of God.

On this Labor Day, remember the One you serve in your God-appointed tasks and serve Him heartily.