A devotional thought from George Robinson for “In God We Trust?”
The idea that worship and obedience are the dual purposes of humanity comes from Genesis 2:15, where we are told, “The LORD God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden to work it and watch over it.” Some people might take this to mean that God created us to be farmers, but that misses the point of the text.
Biblical scholar John Sailhamer argues that “a more suitable translation of the Hebrew text would be ‘to worship and obey.’” He says the pronouns in the Hebrew text rendered “it” in English don’t match up with the Hebrew word for “garden”; instead, the pronouns refer to “the LORD God.” Thus, Adam and Eve, it seems, were put in the garden to “worship the Lord and serve the Lord,” appropriate translations of the Hebrew words for “work” and “watch over.”
Furthermore, Sailhamer points to Genesis 3:23 to show that toilsome “work” of the ground was a result of the curse and not man’s original primary purpose. Further support for Sailhamer’s position comes from Deuteronomy 30:15-18, in which the same two Hebrew verbs from Genesis 2:15 are translated as “worship” and “keep” (in the sense of “obey” God’s spoken commandment). Adam and Eve were to cultivate the garden of Eden, but their primary purposes were to worship the Lord and obey His word, purposes that have been passed down to us. [John Sailhamer, The Pentateuch as Narrative (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), 100-101.]
Pause and Reflect
• Understanding that you were created to worship and obey God, how might you fulfill this primary purpose this week in your family, church, work, community, and world?
• Pray: “Lord of all being, There is one thing that deserves my greatest care…that I may answer the great end for which I am made—to glorify thee who hast given me being…Help me to know continually that there can be no true happiness, no fulfilling of thy purpose for me, apart from a life lived in and for the Son of thy love.” [Arthur Bennett, ed., The Valley of Vision (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1975), 13.]