Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Labor Day Meditation

Jacob de Backer - Garden of Eden

And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth." And God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. (Genesis 1: 28-31)

For the first six days of history, God did all the work. On the seventh He rested. Man was to enjoy God's labor. All man had to do was to reap what the earth yielded along with the animals. But Adam and Eve ruined this gift by trying to usurp God's place in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:5) Henceforth, man was to labor in order to feed oneself and woman was go into labor in childbirth. (Gen. 3:16-19) But this did not mean God abandoned us. While we must live with our consequences, He still provides for us. Although Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden, they were given clothes far superior to the ones they tried to make.

When God led Israel out of the bondage of slavery, He gave them the Law stating, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates." (Exodus 20:8-10) Since we had wanted to be like God, we can work His land for Him. But it is God who still provides. In the wilderness manna rained from Heaven and God provided for them never taking away their rest. But not all understood this, "On the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, but they found none. And the LORD said to Moses, "How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws? See! The LORD has given you the Sabbath; therefore on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Remain each of you in his place; let no one go out of his place on the seventh day." So the people rested on the seventh day." (Exodus 16:27-30)

Today we labor for our food. But it is still God who provides. Is it no wonder then that Jesus reminds us to pray, "Give us this day, our daily bread"? (Mt. 6:11) We labor because all of creation is fallen. But we are not abandoned as God will give us what we need, not what we want!