Sunday, November 21, 2010

Guarding the Garden

In Genesis 2:15 we read,  The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.  Since my experience with gardens and farming has always been one of hard work trying to keep the weeds under control, I have generally assumed that in some way Adam and Eve were to do something similar with the Garden of Eden.  Of course, this presents a problem on the pre-fallen earth.  Everything would grow perfectly and since man did not eat meat before the flood, (After the flood we read, Gen 9:3  Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everythingNow this is interesting that before the Mosaic Law God said we could eat every animal on the planet.  Therefore the Law was only temporary and it is unBiblical to think of its dietary laws as binding on anyone; but I digress) all our first parents would have to do to eat is pick whatever was ripe.  Obviously they would not be tilling and working to take care of a perfect Garden otherwise how was the curse on Adam to work to produce food any different than what he had before?  In 3:23 Adam is told as he is cast out of the garden that he was to work the ground.  Granted that working the cursed ground would be more difficult than working the precursed ground but is this all there is?  Well, it is easy to provide problems but is there a solution, another way that we might understand this passage? 

The word "work" in the above text can simply mean to use something.  In this case I would see it as a command to use the Garden and by implication the whole earth in a proper, godly sense.  In other words, they were to enjoy creation as a means to glorify God in its beauty and provision and as it manifests the manifold wisdom and power of its Creator.  

You might be wondering about the next command where God also tells them to keep the garden.  That also sounds a lot like pruning dead branches and tilling but whatever it means it would seem to have to be something different than working it.  It is interesting that the word for keep is the same word as is found in chapter 4 and verse 24, He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. Here it is used as guarding.  If God was telling Adam to use the garden to glorify his Creator and to guard it and make sure that everyone else does also, then clearly they not only fail to guard it but are the ones who first transgress the garden's (this world's) use.

My point in all this is that we have been redeemed out of sin so that we might live lives as they were intended.  We have been freed from sin's dominion as well as the burden of the Old Covenant laws so that we can use this planet, these bodies and everything God has given each one of us in our own particular situations as it was originally intended, solely for his glory.  We are to use our lives and we are to guard our lives to this end.  We are to be aware of Satan's attempts to lure us away from our First Love and consume our lives in selfishness.  We are to learn all we can about God and be consumed with him no matter what we are doing.  When we do this we "work and keep the garden" as we ought; when we fail, we cease to guard the glory of God and invite those around us to do the same. 

Man was given dominion over this earth to use it as a tool to serve God.  As soon as it became a tool to satisfy the flesh, he fell into ruin.  Our redemption is to restore us to a place that we can live life as it was meant to be lived; with God, not man, at the center of the universe.

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