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Capitalism Has a Sabbath?

Capitalism Has a Sabbath?

“Horribly exploited”—or “crybaby moneybags”?

Those are the waffling opinions circulating on the Internet after news broke of the “inhumane abuse,” as one employee termed it, suffered by junior financial analysts at powerhouse investing firm Goldman Sachs. Putting in, at times, 100 hours a week on the job, 13 of these first-year analysts, part of “a cohort that features some of the brightest recruits hired annually,” were surveyed anonymously, and they did not hold back.

Britain’s The Guardian quoted one analyst as saying, “There was a point where I was not eating, showering or doing anything else other than working from morning until after midnight.”

Another responded, “The sleep deprivation, the treatment by senior bankers, the mental and physical stress. … I’ve been through foster care and this is arguably worse.”

In light of these testimonies, a 2015 tragedy has also resurfaced concerning Sarvshreshth Gupta, a 22-year-old first-year analyst at the San Francisco office of Goldman Sachs who killed himself shortly after divulging to his father, “This job is not for me. Too much work and too little time.”


Enforcing a Day of Rest

According to the company, its response was to “[listen] to their concerns and [take] multiple steps to address them,” including some internal restructuring and, interestingly enough, “enforcing a policy of no work on Saturdays.”

The announcement led columnist Elizabeth Renzetti of Toronto, Canada’s The Globe and Mail newspaper to quip: “I guess Saturdays are capitalism’s Sabbath.” In fact, her entire article was tinged with biblical references.

To a secular citizen, it may seem out of the ordinary to be discussing one’s faith in an article on finance, but to a person familiar with Scripture, it may just be the inklings of prophecy.

Renzetti further informed, “Could the answer involve giving people the legal right to disconnect from their workplaces for a set period of time, such as overnight or on weekends? The European Parliament thinks so. It recently voted to recommend a right-to-disconnect law be passed for its member states.”

While this “mandated right” hasn’t yet proved successful (just ask France, whose similar 2016 law was deemed not “truly effective”), the reality is that governments seem to be getting their hands dirty in finding a solution for this occupational hazard. In simplest terms, the state is paving a way for people to have a right not to work. 

What would it take for that legal right to shift to a law where you are not allowed to work during certain hours or days, even if you wanted to? What would it take to become a mandate to rest?


True Rest

Undoubtedly, 100-hour workweeks are bad business. In no way are we advocating abuse in the workplace. If you’re working 14 to 16 hours a day, which is what a 100-hour schedule would require if a person works six or seven days a week, then something is bound to get lost in the shuffle.

Most of us require seven or eight hours of sleep each night to perform at our best. Unless you’re living at the office, you most likely are getting less than optimal sleep on that type of schedule. Nor could you fit in much recreation or exercise; it’s likely your diet would suffer as well. Who would have time to cook—much less cook something healthy?

And there you have pretty much all the basic functions of life, shunted into last place all because of your job. Does a person need rest? Yes! There are only so many hours in a day for a reason. 

In Exodus 20:10, we read, “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work.” No ifs, ands, or buts: The seventh day, which we call Saturday but which is called “Sabbath” in 100 of the world’s languages, is claimed by the One who “made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them” (v. 11).

Sabbath is a day for rest—for reflection on the Creator and enjoyment of the Creation. This is part of our restoration in preparation for another week of labor, for “in the sweat of your face you shall eat bread” (Genesis 3:19).

So Saturday isn’t just the Sabbath for capitalists. It’s the Sabbath for you—for everyone, regardless of job title or position. “The Sabbath was made for man,” Christ said (Mark 2:27). You can be employed, unemployed, a student, or retired—the Sabbath is just as much for you as it is for those analysts on Wall Street.

Regular readers of this blog will know that we’re committed to upholding the seventh-day Sabbath as a standard for all people, everywhere. But equally as important is the fact that God gave each of us free will. God will never bribe, threaten, or coerce anyone into taking a day of rest—but the Bible foretells that someone else will. To learn about this prophecy, go through our online Bible study “The Sabbath and the Mark of the Beast.

If you’re interested in understanding the crucial relationship of the state to the church, check out our online article “Separation of Church and State.

And if you’re wondering about the Sabbath and how best to keep it, another of our articles, “Rest in God—Keeping the Sabbath Holy,” is a great place to start. In fact, the entire Sabbath Truth website is packed with resources on how to observe the Sabbath and why it’s important. 

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