Updated: Nov 15, 2021
The Weekly Messianic Taste of Hidden Manna #62
What Our Washing Machine & The Bible Have Taught Us
Products No Longer Built to Last: A Negative Perspective
One of the most irritating developments in consumer culture is built-in obsolescence. While it involves many deceptive advertising and marketing practices, my focus here is on the business strategy in which a product is deliberately no longer built to last. That brings me to our washing machine. In our 44-year marriage, we have only owned two washing machines. That is because both of them were built by a company that prided itself on building dependable long-lasting appliances. They each lasted 22 years. However when the current one recently died, both the repair person and the appliance salesperson that we worked with verified that the new model from the very same company will only last five to ten years max. That’s primarily because the long-lasting metal parts have been replaced with plastic parts in order to guarantee an earlier breakdown and need for replacement. On the one hand, from a negative perspective, we have every right to be upset and even disillusioned by this ethically compromised practice of built-in obsolescence.
Products No Longer Built to Last: A Positive Biblical Perspective
On the other hand, there is another way to look at it. And it is a way of looking at things that the Bible has taught us! I rightly complained to the LORD about how upset and disillusioned I was about how so many U.S. products are no longer built to last. In response, God’s Ruach (Spirit) quickly reminded me how the corruption of built-in obsolescence in the present evil age serves God’s purposes. That’s right, all those who put their trust in the false permanence of all things in the present evil age, have misplaced their trust!
First, I was reminded of God’s warning to the ancient Israelites in Isaiah 31:1, “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and who depend on [the strength of] horses! They trust in the abundance of chariots and in the enormous number of horsemen. They do not look to the Holy One of Israel and they do not seek the LORD”.
Second, I was reminded of how the ancient Israelites were instructed to live in temporary hut-like shelters for seven days during the holy day of Sukkot in Leviticus 23. It was another of the seven day cycles designed to remind them to live into the age to come, when there again would be a ‘built to last’ permanent dwelling place with God!
Third, I was reminded of the example of our father Abraham in Hebrews 11:9–10, “By trust, Abraham stayed as a foreigner in the land of promise, living in tents as did Isaac and Jacob, coheirs of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the [lasting] city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God”. This is because he was clear about the truth of Hebrews 13:14, “For here we have no ‘lasting’ city; instead we are always looking or seeking for the city which is coming”. This means that God’s people were always meant to lean and live into the future coming ‘built to last’ permanent city of our God, New Jerusalem.
What Our Washing Machine & the Bible Have Taught Us
Part of the wondrous reality of being in the worldview and way of life known as ‘the way of the LORD’ is this insightful lesson. The corruption of built-in obsolescence in the present evil age reminds us not to put our trust in, or lean and live into, all the impermanence of this age. Rather, in the face of all the built-in obsolescence of this age, we must demonstrate a foretaste of the ‘built to last’ permanence that is to come. All the products and services that WE make should be built to last as such a foretaste of the coming, lasting kingdom of God on the ‘new earth’ with its actual New Jerusalem in Israel. This is what our washing machine and the Bible have taught us!
In your service always, Henri Louis Goulet