Back in the days when we sang from “The Modern Hymnal,” trained choir directors made their presence felt in country churches. One of our favorite hymns was Fanny Crosby’s “To the Work,” mainly because the chorus had a few phrases where bass singers could really shake the rafters, so to speak. No one bothered with the tenor parts. I must confess, though, that for a 13-year-old boy fighting gnats and scratches from sugarcane fronds, the words “toiling on” took on a decidedly non-spiritual meaning. Being removed from the seemingly endless days, I have to see wisdom in the adage that creativity is 90 percent perspiration and 10 percent inspiration. But wouldn’t it be nice to be in a garden where one did not have to fight Johnson Grass in the sugarcane rows? As the Bible account shows, even an ideal garden can harbor problems.
The garden, founded by God, carried with it an appropriate responsibility (1:28). On the sixth day of creation, God proceeded to make larger animals to roam the earth, but He saved the introduction of man as the climax. Passing over the actual description for the forming of Adam and Eve, God signified how they differed from all the other primates. God made humans in His image, after His likeness. Some scholars believe the image and likeness mean man’s moral, ethical, and intellectual abilities. More recent interpreters see the image as referring to man as the living embodiment of God, much as ancient rulers placed their likeness on coins to signify their power and influence throughout his empire.
God delegated to Adam the responsibility for caring for the earth in anticipation of the offspring spreading out from the garden. In subduing and having dominion, they were overseers established by God. After giving further instructions about man’s oversight of the natural order, God pronounced it very good (v. 31), but He was not quite done. He then ended His creative work. He then proceeded to sanctify the seventh day. He was anticipating establishing that day as a time sign of His relationship with Israel (Ex. 31:12-17), later supplanted by Christians in adopting the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1; Rev. 1:10).
Leaving His threefold creative work (vv. 1, 21, 27), the Bible focuses attention on the sixth day, an enlargement of God’s plan for mankind (2:8-9) In a marvelous series of events to anticipate the climax of the creative process, the Bible adds data to create great revelations to come. The first, as already discussed, was the creation of man. The second was the implementation of the Sabbath day to be observed in worship of the true God. The third event relates to the two names of God, Lord God, first introduced in 2:4 and repeated nine more times in this chapter (vv. 4, 5, 8, 9, 15, 16, 18, 19, 21, and 22). The first word for God (Elohim) is given in 1:1. The second, Lord, pronounced Yahweh or Jehovah in older translations, is the covenant name for Lord expounded on in Exodus 3:14, as the “I AM.”
At the initial introduction of Adam to the Garden of Eden, God introduced Adam to the concept of right and wrong. He pointed out to Adam two trees, “the tree of life” and “the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” The descriptions of the garden were exemplary. A river flowed out, dividing into four rivers, each having its own productivity.
Moses, the author of this revelation, carefully records a specific restriction (vv. 15-17). God authorized Adam to eat of “every tree of the garden” (v. 16), except one, “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (v. 17). The penalty for eating from that tree was death. In the language of the Bible, it says, “dying, ye shall die,” Whether Adam had a clear understanding of death we do not know. The text shifts attention to the forming of Eve from Adam’s rid (vv. 21-25). We know also of a sinister being at work in the garden. Without any warning or explanation the Bible says, “Now the serpent (3:1).” We know from Revelation 12:9, Satan was present. The great deceiver was about to begin his work.
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