Americans and Canadians celebrated Labor Day on the 4th of September. Naturally, they slept in, barbecued with family, and enjoyed a peaceful evening at home. Certainly every man is worthy of rest and for some, the limited rest just isn’t enough. We overwork ourselves and Labor Day becomes a necessary day. It leads man to believe that he deserves such rest. How does the garden fit into this picture? In Genesis 2:15 we read: “Yahweh God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” Calvin’s words are always instructive: “Whence it follows that men were created to employ themselves in some work, and not to lie down in inactivity and idleness. This labor, truly, was pleasant, and full of delight, entirely exempt from all trouble and weariness; since however God ordained that man should be exercised in the culture of the ground, he condemned in his person, all indolent repose.” Work was made to be a part of man and man was made to enjoy his work. Our culture has substantially perverted that notion by granting a day of rest to people when God does not grant such a day.
The overworked, over-stressed, and over-secularized society undermines and nullifies the sacredness of our labors. Our jobs are to be cultivated, cared for, and loved as God intended. The Labor Day should be a day of unrest for God’s people. There is nothing as ridiculous as resting on a Monday morning when nothing hinders you from working.
A great economist I read frequently wrote to his readers that his favorite holiday is Labor Day. He expounded that on Labor Day the enemies rest, while he rises earlier than usual and works a full day to get ahead of his enemies. Don’t you yet know that in this world competition always results in loss? Let the pagan lose and let the Christian type away.
In every law there is another side: a curse. Genesis 2 goes on to stipulate what you should not do when you labor: “ Yahweh God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it…” Unnecessary repose is evil and corrupts the ethic of the garden. There are always requirements. When you steal (a commandment broken in the garden), when you labor to the expense of your familial duties, you take and eat of the ungodly fruit. Since when does Labor Day fit into God’s pattern of six and one, six and one? It does not! So why do we trade Labor Day for Sabbath Day? True rest, physical and spiritual is needed, but that rest comes when we worship with other saints and when we glorify the Creator of true rest.