First, let me apologize for a few typos I failed to catch in my Daniel 11 post. The number oriented typos were probably easy enough to figure out – like saying to read 11:29-25. Oops, make that 11:29-35. I also misspelled Seleucus as ‘Seleucuc’ at least once. The more important typo was at the end of the section on 11:7-9. I wrote ‘Seleucus Callinicus contented himself…’ Obviously it should have read ‘Ptolemy III contented himself…’ Sorry about that.
All that said, Happy Labor Day! The holiday was created to honor the achievements and spirit of the American worker – and to give those workers a day off – with a parade! We often skip the parade these days. But the spirit of the American worker is still worth celebrating. We sometimes mistakenly think that paradise (Eden) was a long running opportunity to loaf. If we carefully read the early chapters of Genesis we understand that man was intended to tend and shape God’s creation. I believe the garden of Eden was a model for us to follow in transforming the wider ‘wild’ earth. The curse (our own fault) introduced more difficulties into our task but we always had a task. We used to understand this better. There is a reason the American culture was reckoned to be shaped by the ‘Protestant Work Ethic’. Even God’s insistence on a day of rest was for a DAY of rest which as I understand it had two purposes: 1. To institute a time for more careful meditation on God and His will. 2. To better prepare us for the next six days of work – for which a break not only made us stronger but which labors should be shaped by our meditations on God and His will. When we understand our labors as part of His will and a necessary and fulfilling part of our nature – things just go better.
I recognize, of course, how in the fallen world there will always be those who exploit – CRUELLY exploit – workers. I do not justify unsafe working conditions, slave or poverty wages, or requirements that turn a vocation into soul stealing spirit crushing drudgery. But such developments come from the sinful earthy side of things – not the heavenly godly side. I also do not justify – or even understand – calls for the twenty-hour work week or requiring ‘living wages’ to be attached to obviously part time efforts. This isn’t good for our spirits either. As to recent political efforts I have seen to pay criminals for – not breaking the law, or, paying people to protest – sorry, I just can’t seem to get there.
If anyone cares to try the old line about how a guy with a ‘cushy preaching gig’ couldn’t possibly understand about the real work world, I invite you to come spend a week working along side me. Then we’ll talk.
In the meantime – I hope you enjoy a nice break for Labor Day. Then, I hope you can come (if you don’t already) to see your capacity for work as a God given gift and your vocation as another way both to find fulfillment and give glory to our gracious creator.
Pastor and Author Terry Bailey, Senior Minister of Indian Run Christian Church