Creation - The Sixth Day part 5

creation sixth 5

Genesis 2:7  says,  “the LORD God formed man (adam) of dust (adama) from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being (nepes).”  Let it be clear that the dust was real, the ground was real, the breath of life was real, and the man who was created was real.  The Bible clearly affirms the historicity of Adam by including him in the historical genealogies.  (See Genesis 5:1ff;  1Chronicles 1:1ff;  Luke 3:23-38).  Furthermore, if there was no first historical Adam, then the need for a second historical Adam would have been useless and meaningless.    

In the order of creation, God gave priority to the man by creating him first.  Paul referenced this fact in  1Tim.2:13“it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve.”  As we would see, the reason the man was created first is theological.  The theological priority relates to the man’s headship.  And his theological headship relates to the responsibilities God would give to him before the creation of the woman.

Genesis 2:8 tells us,  The Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed.”  Eden was not the garden.  Eden is described as a real place and it is the place in which God planted the garden.   The word “Eden” means “delight”.  And the garden God planted was a garden of delights and bountiful provisions.  This is clearly reflected in  vs.9a“Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food.”  Later on, in  Genesis 13:10  Eden would be called  “the garden of the LORD”.  God was the planter and owner of the garden.  Adam’s responsibility was to be God’s steward in Eden.

In  vs.9b  we are introduced to two special trees.  Moses wrote,  “the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”  Both are side by side in the middle of the garden.  When Eve spoke about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, she said in Genesis 3;3“but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden….” 

Vss.10-14 digress a bit to give us a description of the garden.  Prominent in this description is the river.  What vss.9-14 show us is the bounty of God’s goodness to the specially created man and later the woman.  The garden is the perfect environment with beautiful trees and plants that were pleasant to the sight and with fruits that were good for food and delightful to the taste.  It was also a land rich in water and precious stones.  Any charge that God was stingy is unfounded.  The garden was filled with God’s large-handed bounteousness.  Kent Hughes wrote, “Naked Adam lacked nothing.  He was made in the image of God.  God had kissed life into him.  He was perfect.  He was the human sovereign of creation.  He had the blessing of God and the unparalleled presence of God.  Adam “speaks and walks with God as if they belong to one another,” writes Bonhoeffer.  Paradise it was.”  (Genesis, p.54). 

This brings us to  vs.15“Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.”  There are three points we must note about the man’s relationship to the garden.  Firstly, the garden is the man’s home.  Secondly, the garden is his work.  Thirdly, the garden is his place of fellowship with and worship of God.  It is the place God met with him and he met with God.  Vs.8  says,  “God … placed the man whom He had formed”  in the garden.  In  vs.15  the  verb  “put”  is a different Hebrew word that means  “to cause to rest”.  The garden as Adam’s home is his place of physical rest.  The garden as the place God met with Adam is his place of spiritual rest.  And the garden is Adam’s place of work that can be described as restful work.  After the fall his work would become toilsome work. 

Two verbs describe Adam’s work in the garden  :  cultivate and keep.  As we consider these verbs, I want you to see how they are used in the OT in connection to the tabernacle and worship.  These connections show us that work is connected to worship.  By His work Adam would be worshiping God.  In other words, our worship of God continues all day in our working.  When we put the worship of God in our work, it changes how we think about work and how we work because by our work we are bringing glory to God.  The apostle Paul would reference this principle in Colossians 3:22-24.  Paul said when we work, we must not do so with,

“external service (that is, eyeservice), as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.”  Note the clear emphasis : in your daily work, first and foremost, you are serving the Lord Jesus Christ and bringing glory to Him.  Let me put it this way  :  in your daily work you are Christ’s servant. 

God gave to Adam the responsibility to cultivate and keep the garden.  The verb “cultivate” (Heb.  abad) also means “to dress; to serve”.  Adam is God’s servant in the garden.  He must cultivate and dress the garden as service to God.  The verb  “keep”  (Heb.  samar)  has the basic root meaning of  “to exercise great care over”.  In this exercise of great care there is the concept of guarding. Adam is the protector of his home, his place of work, and his worship of God.

Now, I want you to take careful note of the following quote from Allen Ross (Genesis, p.124).  He wrote, “The two infinitives (translated “to serve [cultivate] it” and “to keep it”) are also significantly chosen. These two verbs are used throughout the Pentateuch for spiritual service.  “Keep” (Heb. samar) is used for keeping the commandments and taking heed to obey God’s word;  “serve” (Heb. abad) describes the worship and service of the Lord, the highest privilege a person can have.  Whatever activity the man was to engage in in the garden (and there is no reason to doubt that physical activity was involved), it was described in terms of spiritual service of the Lord.”  Let me share with you a couple examples.

Exodus 3:12.  The Lord said to Moses,  “when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve (worship) God at this mountain.”  (see also : Numbers 3:3; Joshua 10:6).

Genesis 17:9-10, God said to Abraham,  “you shall keep My covenant”“This is My covenant, which you shall keep.”  (see also Genesis 18:19). 

Now I want you to take note that the first thing God did after creating the man is to give him the responsibility of work.  The responsibility of work established the man as the primary provider in his home.  Adam must work in the garden.  And Adam must work by exercising the dominion mandate over creation.  (see vss.19-20).  Adam’s presence in the garden would not be one of idyllic idleness.  Adam must have a work-related purposeful existence.  God provided abundantly for man’s needs.  But God’s gracious and abundant provisions did not give to man a life free from duty and responsibility. 

Firstly, man must work because God gave him the responsibility of work.  Secondly, man must work because he is created in the image of God.  God worked for six days in creating the heavens and the earth and all they contained.  Genesis 2:2  says,  “By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done.”  In  John 5:17  Jesus said to the Jews,  “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.”  Man, created in the image of God, must reflect that image as a worker.  When, by our diligent working we reflect the image of God, we also glorify God.  The responsibility to work did not come after the fall.  The responsibility to work came before the fall.  The fall changed the nature of work from restful work to toilsome work.

Thirdly, the command to work is clearly established in the fourth commandment.  Exodus 20:8-11  says,  “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.”  In a week of seven days, God said you must work six days and rest one day.  There are some who emphasize the Sabbath so much they forget the commandment says,  “Six days you shall labor and do all your work.”  The reaffirmed points here are that we work because God worked and we rest because God rested.

Fourthly, an important aspect of Adam’s work in the garden was directly related to his food supplies and his eating.  Adam was responsible to cultivate the garden.  Cultivation would maintain fruit bearing and thereby maintain the supply of food.  Paul said in  2Thessalonians 3:10“if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.”  Laziness is not an option for the Christian.  Laziness denies you the right to eat.  The book of Proverbs says a lot about the sin of laziness.

In closing this article, I want to say that the Christian work ethic is a very important doctrine in the Bible.  The Christian work ethic is rooted in God who worked and who is still working.  The Christian work ethic is rooted in the fact that we are created in the image of God and by our diligent working we, as image bearers, reflect what God is like.  The Christian work ethic is rooted in the fact that God required man to work before the fall and God set forth the requirement to work in the fourth commandment.  The Christian work ethic is rooted in the fact that work is connected to worship and glorifies God.  The world puts work in the closed framework of the secular.  But the Bible says work is also a spiritual activity related to our worship of God and bringing glory to God.  It is for this reason that Christians ought to be the most diligent, competent, productive, and trustworthy workers.  Sadly, the faithful practice of the Christian work ethic can bring persecution upon you from fellow workers.     



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