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The Biblical basis for a 6 day work week?

By Justin Forman - 6 days God worked. Then he rested ... For ONE day. 

Look back in the Old Testament and you'll find that a lot of people were working overtime by today's standards. 6 long days, from sunup to sundown. 

I'm not selling that we should be working every Saturday. But as I re-read through the Old Testament I'm reminded that I don't have a lot of legs to stand on the next time I complain about a long day or long week.

I wonder what's the story behind that? Why do we have a 5 day work week today instead of a 6?

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posted by Justin Forman | 3.11.2010 - 7:02 AM


Justin...way to go, rounding up those sacred cows.

You make a point. We expect so much more today, but aren't willing to put out like before. Our predecessors would have scoffed at a five-day work week.

What are we so afraid of?

commented by Blogger David, 11:46 AM  

I was just wondering this myself a few days ago!

Although this doesn't apply in every line of work, there is a significant difference today in the types and amount of pressures and overall stress and constant "noise" in our jobs.

I live near Lancaster, PA which is where a large Amish population lives - they work 6 full days a week, but during their work they are not bombarded with constant e-mails, phone calls, meetings, deadlines, traveling, etc. and are able to labor in more "quietness" so that their work (albeit often physically demanding) is not as spiritually, mentally, and emotionally draining.

Also, in biblical times families worked together and could work and spend quality time together all in one. Today people often spend more time with coworkers than with their family, so that extra day off from work helps to give more time for family and other important things.

At least in the fast-paced Western culture that is in constant communication, most of our jobs are not ones that offer much opportunity for long periods of contemplation and prayer during our labor like that of many people in Biblical times. We need to make up for that missed "rest" somehow. Throughout the work day would be the healthiest way, and closer to God's design for us, but our culture does not really lend itself easily to that anymore.

Unless we get back to a culture of work life that is slower-paced, the 6 day work week would not be healthy or wise for most people.

This is something to seriously consider for Christian entrepreneurs who have the opportunity to build their businesses on biblical principles.
commented by Anonymous Amber N. Aureden, 1:43 PM  

Do you really rest on your one or two days off? I find that it is the opposite. On Saturdays and Sundays there is a lot of other work to do. I wonder how that happened in Biblical time. I agree with Amber's comments.

Just a question but do you (Justin and David) cook all your meals yourself, from scratch? What about all that kind of labour?
commented by Anonymous Bonita Dirk, 10:17 PM  

Amber and Bonita, thanks for the comments. I think those are some great points. Things have changed. We live in a very fractured, segmented life that causes us to compartmentalize so many different areas. Its interesting to consider the depth that would come with working together with family throughout the day.
commented by Blogger Justin Forman, 8:48 PM  

This is a topic often overlooked by the modern Church. The sermon topic is always about "rest" and keeping the sabbath "holy" but little attention is paid to the command to work.

Work doesn't necessarily mean go to the office and put in a 9-5 day, but rather to work towards God's glory in whatever form that takes. On a practical level I'd say that saturday is a good day for house chores and "claiming dominion" over your yard.

It's my understanding that the western world takes Saturday off because of the Jewish influence in society, saturday being the Jewish sabbath.
commented by Blogger Bradley Matson, 8:18 AM  

Good point from Bonita. I find that Saturday is my day to work around the house and get all those household things done that I couldn't get to during the week. I assume in the "old days" when people worked in their fields (that were in their backyards), they would get household chores done as they were getting "work" done. We shouldn't just think of our occupations as being the only work we do.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 9:39 AM  

As I understand it, the jewish Sabbath is the last day of the week (Saturday). And the Christian "Lord's day" is the first day of the week in which is celebrated as the day of celebration about the resurrection (Sunday). There is no implicit transition in the Bible from one day to the other, but we get hints, Paul in Colossians and Galatians, early church history and then Constantine made a legal switch. I think you can safely make the inference. So the Genesis account is God's rest, is his, not ours. During the Exodus is the first time the Sabbath is celebrated. It is a blessing from God for a people formerly enslaved. The 4th commandment states that you should complete all your work in 6 days, but does not mandate 6 days, you could complete all your work in 3 or 4. Most think that sloth and laziness are best addressed in the 8th commandment not the 4th.
In a nutshell from our point in redemptive history all 7 days are equally God's but the Christian should set aside Sunday for special rest and worship with God's people. To prescribe an exact 5 or 6 day work week is probably going beyond what the scripture says.
commented by Anonymous Rob, 8:51 AM  

I think work has become an idol for many in the US. We have elevated business to busy-ness. We are working for our own reputation. Our own prosperity. Our own self-esteem.

Frankly, shortening the work week to four days may be the better spiritual choice. My European counterparts take many more days off than we do here in the US. In August they are gone for the better part of the month. They are healthier for it.

God gave us time and nature to enjoy Him. He loves it when we do this. It grieves Him ,I think, when we don't. As for me, Sunday is hardly a sabbath anymore. If by sabbath we mean rest. We have Sunday School classes and worship services, but after that we have a million things we do at the church and for the church. Sunday is a pretty busy day for me. Not only that, but I am serving the church on weeknights after work for at least 3 days a week. I'm doing work for the church at home for 6-8 hours a week as well.

As for me, I'm longing for rest, not more work. :(
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 12:54 PM  

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