We know that God is a worker because we see Him working for six days (Genesis 1-2:3). Therefore, as children of God, we must work and value work just as God does. The first words we see when we open the Bible are, “In the beginning, God (Elohim) created by forming from
nothing…” The Bible starts with God working – creating.
This creative work continues for six days with God creating everything that man would need in the Garden. In Genesis 2:8-9, we see God Himself doing the work to plant the Garden to ensure that Adam’s work of cultivating and keeping the Garden would be enjoyable.
And the Lord God planted a garden (oasis) in the east, in Eden (delight, land of happiness); and He put the man whom He had formed (created) there. And [in that Garden] the Lord God caused to grow from the ground every tree that is desirable and pleasing to the sight and good (suitable,
pleasant) for food; the tree of life was also in the midst of the Garden, and the tree of the [experiential] knowledge (recognition) of [the difference
between] good and evil.
We see God Himself planted a garden in the east of Eden. He also grew all the trees that were desirable and pleasing to the sight and good for food. God made sure Adam found a garden (workplace) that was well set up.
God created Adam on the sixth day in His own image and likeness (Genesis 1:26). The same way God had worked and loved what He did, so was the man supposed to work and enjoy what he did.
God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good, and He validated it completely.
THE AUTHOR OF WORK
God is the author of work because He is the one who gave Adam the
work to do in the Garden of Eden.
So the Lord God took the man [He had made] and settled him in the Garden of Eden to cultivate and keep it.
Traditionally Bible scholars have understood this passage to show Adam’s vocation in Eden to work in the Garden for his own benefit and God’s glory. We will look further into this at a later stage.
TO WORK IT, AND TO KEEP IT
God created man with a God-given purpose and placed him in the Garden of Eden with a job to do. God had created a world which included work needing to be done, and He created man with a mission to do that work. Logically, God didn’t need to necessarily structure the world in this way. He could have created a fully self-sustaining world. He could have made human beings to simply live in luxury and enjoy all of God’s creation without ever having to contribute anything.
That, however, was not God’s design. Human beings were meant to work, to help to accomplish God’s purpose. That is built into us. It’s sin that changed the nature of our work and our response to it, but work itself is not a curse.
However, this mandate to work and keep the Garden could not be attended with toil and labour; with fatigue and trouble; with sorrow and sweat as after his Fall; but was instead for his recreation and pleasure. At this present reality for Adam, there needed no ploughing, nor sowing, nor planting, nor watering, since God had made every tree pleasant to the sight, suitable for food, to grow out of it; and a river ran through it to water it.
Work is part of our purpose as God’s creatures and is the only way we find fulfilment in life. The man was not to live an idle life in the Garden. This mandate to work and keep the Garden was before the Fall. If Adam and Eve did not eat of the forbidden fruit, they would have continued to work according to God’s plans. This means that work is sacred and ordained of God right from the beginning and not a punishment from the Fall of man.
Good news is, for those restored to fellowship with God through faith in Christ, that sense of purposeful work begins to be restored, as well. Paul writes in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Find all the Episodes in this Series
A journey of recovery from toiling (modern day workaholism) to working (as God intended)