Series on Genesis, I Creation, F The Commitment of Creation, Text: 2:15-25. Title: Man's Purpose


From time immemorial or at least for a very long time mankind has always pictured the ideal life as one where he doesn't have to work. This has expressed itself in the idyllic dream of a tropical island where all the food we need grows in profusion and where there is perfect weather and no trouble. It expresses itself today in the passion for retirement which everyone wants as soon and as well provided as possible. In other words we picture ourselves in paradise. The problem is that Paradise was not a place where Adam was insulated from labor or love. In fact, all the problems associated with labor and all the difficulties associated with relationships arise from sin and not from the things themselves. We have seen the first creation ordinance was the sabbath or rest from labor. In this study we see two more ordinances, labor and love. Here is revealed the purpose of our existence, to relate in a fulfilling way to the world around us and to the people in it. Consider first labor.

I Labor

Verse 15 sets forth God's intention that the man should work and take care of the garden, The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. Remember in Chapter 1 it says that the man was to rule the earth and subdue it. The implication is, I believe, that what he was called to do in the garden would have become a worldwide task even if the fall had not occurred. The New International translation of the Hebrew is one of the best.

A To Serve

The King James Version translated the word “work” as "dress" meaning to cultivate. Actually this word in Hebrew is the word to serve and implies a responsibility to the maker and owner of the garden. Adam was there to serve by working or to turn it around he was to see his work as service to God. I don’t usually quote Bob Dylan, but as his lyrics say, “You may be an ambassador to England or France; you may like to gamble, you might like to dance; you may be the heavy-weight champion of the world; you may be a socialite with a long string of pearls; but you're gonna have to serve somebody. yes indeed you're gonna have to serve somebody. Well it may be the devil or it may be the lord but you're gonna have to serve somebody.” The entire history of God's people is intertwined with this word serve. Pharoah is to let God's people go from Egypt so that they may serve him, that is, they must see the purpose in all her daily labors is a service to God. Michaelangelo said "Art is the gift of God and must be used for His glory. That in art is highest which aims at this." And, this is true of all man’s labor.  The dignity of labor is upheld in Proverbs over and over. For example 10:4 and 5, Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hand s bring wealth...he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son. Paul advises us in I Thessalonians 3:10 and 4:11 to mind our own business and work with our hands so that we may win the respect of others, and he also says, if any man doesn’t work he shouldn’t eat. The Bible is full of trades of every kind and Jewish families considered it a disgrace if their sons did not have a trade. The office of deacon in the church is based on the concept that all God's people are to serve. Now as you know when the man is later punished for his transgression, the penalty relates to his labor. But in the beginning service to God was his purpose and that service involved daily labor. God is a God of action, of service, of work. There are a lot of Christians who are doing nothing, but there are no Christians who have nothing to do. Dressed as a rag doll, Melody Schick, 24, sat with a teddy bear cradled in her left arm staring into space on a platform at a Dallas shopping center. Five hours and 43 boring minutes later she rose slowly. Miss Schick beat the world record for sitting still! The previous record was 5 hours and 32 minutes. The record attempt took place at a Dallas shopping center as hundreds of shoppers watched. There are surely some Christians who could compete for that record. They have been sitting still, metaphorically if not literally, for years.  They never become involved in the work of the local church.  They criticize the church frequently, but they never participate in the program.

B To Save

The man is not only to work but take care, or keep or guard the garden. The Hebrew word means pay attention to or take seriously your responsibility. The man was to conserve to save to watch over the garden. Thus Adam was not only to labor but to preserve the fruits of that labor which has a lot to say about present day concerns over the environment. But in the garden Adam ‘s main task was to protect it from harm and evil, and the intrusion of the serpent and the consequences are a direct disobedience to this command. Both in serving and conserving Adam was happy and content because this was his purpose before God. Unless we see this in our daily labors we cannot be happy in life. All of our labor should have the same goal of guarding our church, our home, our workplace and our environment from the intrusion of evil, sin and corruption. The fact that the world is corrupted now by the fall does not mean that we can give up.

II Love

The remainder of our text excepting the prohibition with regard to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil which we will reflect on at a later date, is devoted to love. Adam was not only to labor but to love and this required people to love. It meant that he was created not only to serve God but to be in relationship to others. The great commandment Jesus says is to love the Lord with all your heart soul mind and strength and your neighbor as yourself. In order to learn not to be selfish and to relate to others there had to be others like Adam. There are three requirements for this love relationship which are set forth in our text.

A Humility

Relationships need humility. Adam is first instructed with regard to the fact that there is no adequate companion among all the beasts of the field that God has made in verses 19 and 20 where we read, Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.  So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. In none of them is the Spirit of the Lord, the breath of life as it is in Adam. The dog is not man's best friend contrary to popular opinion. man is, but alas, ironically, we say that because sin has so damaged our human relationships. The man is the lord over the lower creation. He names them but is constantly reminded that he has no companion among them, no one to whom he can truly relate in love. He has a need that is not met and this is humbling. Young people often pretend to be something they are not in relationships with the opposite sex. One young lady wrote, “when we date, we start giving gifts, like flowers or candy.  When a couple becomes engaged, they give special things - a diamond and very personal things.  The most personal gift that i can ever give is myself. I have nothing more precious to give.  When I marry, I want to give my husband the best that I have - my whole self as completely as I can." Pride interferes with giving ourselves to others, but the ideal is to be as honest as we can be. “Love and marriage, love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage.” Honesty and humility go together like a horse and carriage.

B Help

Relationships need help. The second requirement for love is help. Of course the help comes from God who makes the woman from the man and she is perfect for him. Not I might add because she's Eve, but because she's woman, and the interesting thing is that God makes her as a helper to Adam. She was a helper primarily because in the intimacy of their relationship Adam could learn to love. This was first and foremost. Matthew Henry writes:  "Eve was made by God not out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be loved." And, this relationship was as fundamental to that capacity as it was unique. The leaving and cleaving of verses 23-25, the celebration of their union as one flesh, is the closest possible human analogy to our relationship to God, The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”  For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. The perversion of this in our adulterous modern society is the death blow to real love of any kind. It is correct to ask if the President of the United States or any other person cannot love his wife, then can he love anybody? In loving Eve, Adam would learn to love others.

C Holiness

Relationships need holiness. Verse 25 says they were naked and not ashamed. Why should they be ashamed? The problem with nudist colonies is that they leave sin out of the picture. It was right for Adam and Eve to be naked because their was no shame, no guilt. But later, when they sinned, what is the first thing they do? They hide and cover themselves. Commenting on this passage R C Sproul reminds us that we need to be clothed because of our fallen condition. God may see everything, but in a world that is judgmental and corrupt we need that protection. Marriage was to be a place where the shields can be dropped and where the clothes can come off because holiness is a requirement for loving. But, while being clothed is absolutely necessary, it is a liability born out of sin and hindering relationships. Walter Anderson wrote about courage and said, “Hundreds of times I have looked into the eyes of a successful person and asked, "when it is dark and you are alone, do you ever say to yourself, what will I do when they find out I'm me?" I've never failed to make a friend with the question.  And I've never failed to get a nod.  It was as if I knew who they were, that I understood, and because I understood, I could be trusted.  I've seen the cool, disciplined, practiced composure of some of America's toughest business leaders melt.”  When Adam and Eve sinned it was their relationship which was disrupted as conveyed in the punishment of Eve according to 3:16, To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” We shall examine the meaning of that verse at greater length in a future message, but it is clear that there is a disrupted relationship. This enmity between the man and the woman ultimately leads to enmity with all their fellow creatures. The usual modern solution is to abandon marriage and try to relate well to others. This is not Biblical. Home and family are God’s boot camp for training in holiness in all of our relationships.


And so two things man is to do. He is to serve God and love his fellow man. He is a ruler who is given dominion, but there is a greater Ruler and King he must honor in his relationship with the world in serving, and with other people in loving.