By Leonard Lauriault
We’re coming up on our last three-day weekend for this summer. So far, we’ve had two three-day weekends: Memorial Day, to kick it off, and Independence Day as a break in the middle, although, many of us took a longer vacation sometime. Labor Day generally signals the end of the summer vacation, although school has already started.
Labor Day, a national holiday celebrated each first Monday in September, was proposed by labor unions in the late 1800s to commemorate the social and economic achievements by American workers toward the USA’s strength, prosperity, and well-being (www.dol.gov/laborday/history.htm). “The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker (www.dol.gov/laborday/history.htm).” (God is actually the source of our strength, freedom, and leadership, as well as our ability to work.)
While I’ll enjoy the day, it’s interesting that we should take another day of rest to celebrate labor.
For Christians, rest comes after our work is done. Under the new covenant, there’s no command to rest on any day (Exodus 20:10-11; Colossians 2:16-17; John 9:4). In fact, before Jesus instituted the new covenant with his death, burial, and resurrection, he showed that it was also lawful even under the old covenant to do good (to work) on the Sabbath (Hebrews 9:15; Matthew 12:1-13). Now, although we’re not forbidden from resting from our normal work routine on Saturday and Sunday (and I think that’s a good thing along with taking longer vacations), our rest under the new covenant will come when Jesus returns and we’re to do good works until that happens (Hebrews 3:18 to 4:11; Matthew 11:28-30). The Sabbath under the old covenant was merely symbolic of the privilege we have to rest after our life’s work is done (Hebrews 10:1-10).
The Old Testament Sabbath rest was much like the Old Testament sacrifices that had to be done. Because they couldn’t take away sin, those sacrifices actually turned out to be a reminder of sin. The Sabbath had to be observed, but everyone knew they had to go back to work the next day. God, on the other hand, had completed his creative work and had the right to eternal rest (Genesis 2:2-3). Jesus, also, completed his work he on earth and has returned to heaven with God (John 17:1-5). They still work through us, though, to accomplish their will rather than doing the work themselves (Ephesians 2:8-10; Philippians 2:12-13).
The time is coming when all God’s people will enter into the same rest God currently has. But that’ll come after all our work on earth is done. God won’t forget our works if we’ve been faithful to him (Hebrews 6:7-12; Revelation 2:10; Ezekiel 18:21-24; 1 John 1:5-9).
Will you be entering God’s rest?
Leonard Lauriault is a member of the Church of Christ in Logan. Contact him at email@example.com