Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. While religious people over the centuries tended to pile up regulations defining what constituted keeping the Sabbath, Jesus said clearly that God made the Sabbath for us—for our benefit Mark What are we to learn from this?
The Theology of Genesis | Preaching Source
When, like God, we stop our work on whatever is our seventh day, we acknowledge that our life is not defined only by work or productivity. Walter Brueggemann put it this way, "Sabbath provides a visible testimony that God is at the center of life—that human production and consumption take place in a world ordered, blessed, and restrained by the God of all creation. Otherwise, we live with the illusion that life is completely under human control. Part of making Sabbath a regular part of our work life acknowledges that God is ultimately at the center of life.
Having blessed human beings by his own example of observing workdays and Sabbaths, God equips Adam and Eve with specific instructions about the limits of their work.
In the midst of the Garden of Eden, God plants two trees, the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil Gen. The latter tree is off limits.
Various hypotheses are found in the general commentaries, and we need not settle on an answer here. For our purposes, it is enough to observe that not everything that can be done should be done. If we want to work with God, rather than against him, we must choose to observe the limits God sets, rather than realizing everything possible in creation. Francis Schaeffer has pointed out that God didn't give Adam and Eve a choice between a good tree and an evil tree, but a choice whether or not to acquire the knowledge of evil.
They already knew good, of course. In making that tree, God opened up the possibility of evil, but in doing so God validated choice.
All love is bound up in choice; without choice the word love is meaningless. God expects that those in relationship with him will be capable of respecting the limits that bring about good in creation.
Human creativity, for example, arises as much from limits as from opportunities. Architects find inspiration from the limits of time, money, space, materials, and purpose imposed by the client. Painters find creative expression by accepting the limits of the media with which they choose to work, beginning with the limitations of representing three-dimensional space on a two-dimensional canvas.
Writers find brilliance when they face page and word limits. How do you avoid failure? Jim Moats claims, "I believe that failure is the least efficient method for discovering limitations. There are limits to healthy eating and exercise. There are limits by which we distinguish beauty from vulgarity, criticism from abuse, profit from greed, friendship from exploitation, service from slavery, liberty from irresponsibility, and authority from dictatorship.
In practice it may be hard to know exactly where the line is, and it must be admitted that Christians have often erred on the side of conformity, legalism, prejudice, and a stifling dreariness, especially when proclaiming what other people should or should not do. The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. The use of this terminology is not essential, but the idea it stands for seems clear in Genesis 1 and 2. It is not in our nature to be satisfied with things as they are, to receive provision for our needs without working, to endure idleness for long, to toil in a system of uncreative regimentation, or to work in social isolation.
Until this point, we have been discussing work in its ideal form, under the perfect conditions of the Garden of Eden. But then we come to Genesis Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God say, 'You shall not eat from any tree in the garden'? The serpent represents anti-god, the adversary of God. Bruce Waltke notes that God's adversary is malevolent and wiser than human beings. He's shrewd as he draws attention to Adam and Eve's vulnerability even as he distorts God's command.
He maneuvers Eve into what looks like a sincere theological discussion, but distorts it by emphasizing God's prohibition instead of his provision of the rest of the fruit trees in the garden. In essence, he wants God's word to sound harsh and restrictive. In short, they turn what is good into evil. By choosing to disobey God, they break the relationships inherent in their own being. First, their relationship together—"bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh," as it had previously been Gen. Eve likewise breaks humanity's relationship with the creatures of the earth by blaming the serpent for her own decision Gen.
God speaks judgment against their sin and declares consequences that result in difficult toil. The serpent will have to crawl on its belly all its days Gen. The woman will face hard labor in delivering children, and also feel conflict over her desire for the man Gen. All in all, human beings will still do the work they were created to do, and God will still provide for their needs Gen. But work will become more difficult, unpleasant, and liable to failure and unintended consequences.
Essay on Genesis
It is important to note that when work became toil, it was not the beginning of work. Some people see the curse as the origin of work, but Adam and Eve had already worked the garden. Work is not inherently a curse, but the curse affects the work. In fact, work becomes more important as a result of the Fall, not less, because more work is required now to yield the necessary results.
Adam, made from dirt, will now struggle to till the soil until his body returns to dirt at his death Gen. Domination of one person over another in marriage and work was not part of God's original plan, but sinful people made it a new way of relating when they broke the relationships that God had given them Gen. Two forms of evil confront us daily. The first is natural evil, the physical conditions on earth that are hostile to the life God intends for us. The second is moral evil, when people act with wills that are hostile to God's intentions. By acting in evil ways, we mar the creation and distance ourselves from God, and we mar the relationships we have with other people.
We live in a fallen, broken world and we cannot expect life without toil. The Fall created alienation between people and God, among people, and between people and the earth that was to support them. Suspicion of one another replaced trust and love. In the generations that followed, alienation nourished jealousy, rage, even murder.
All workplaces today reflect that alienation between workers—to greater or lesser extent—making our work even more toilsome and less productive. Nonetheless, God continues to provide for them, even to the point of sewing clothes for them when they lack the skill themselves Gen. The curse has not destroyed their ability to multiply Gen. The work of Genesis 1 and 2 continues. There is still ground to be tilled and phenomena of nature to be studied, described, and named.
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Men and women must still be fruitful, must still multiply, must still govern. But now, a second layer of work must also be accomplished—the work of healing, repairing, and restoring the things that go wrong and the evils that are committed. To put it in a contemporary context, the work of farmers, scientists, midwives, parents, leaders, and everyone in creative enterprises is still needed. But so is the work of exterminators, doctors, funeral directors, corrections officers, forensic auditors, and everyone in professions that restrain evil, forestall disaster, repair damage, and restore health.
Roughly speaking, there is twice as much work to do now than there was in the garden.
Genesis 4 details the first murder when Cain kills his brother Abel in a fit of angry jealousy. Both brothers bring the fruit of their work as offerings to God. Cain is a farmer, and he brings some of the fruit of the ground, with no indication in the biblical text that this is the first or the best of his produce Gen. Although both are producing food, they are neither working nor worshiping together. God looks with favor on the offering of Abel but not on that of Cain. In this first mention of anger in the Bible, God warns Cain not to give into despair, but to master his resentment and work for a better result in the future.
But Cain gives way to his anger instead and kills his brother Gen. God responds to the deed in these words:. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it will no longer yield to you its strength; you will be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth. He can no longer till the ground, and Cain the farmer becomes a wanderer, finally settling in the land of Nod, east of Eden, where he builds the first city mentioned in the Bible Gen.
See Gen. The remainder of chapter 4 follows Cain's descendants for seven generations to Lamech, whose tyrannical deeds make his ancestor Cain seem tame.
Lamech shows us a progressive hardening in sin. First comes polygamy Gen. Yet in Lamech we also see the beginnings of civilization.
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Division of labor —which spelled trouble between Cain and Abel—brings a specialization here that makes certain advances possible. The ability to create music, to craft the instruments for playing it, and to develop technological advances in metallurgy are all within the scope of the creators we are created to be in God's image. The arts and sciences are a worthy outworking of the creation mandate, but Lamech's crowing about his vicious deeds points to the dangers that accompany technology in a depraved culture bent on violence.
The first human poet after the Fall celebrates human pride and abuse of power. Yet the harp and the flute can be redeemed and used in the praise of God 1 Sam. As people multiply, they diverge. Through Seth, Adam had hope of a godly seed, which includes Enoch and Noah. When people began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that they were fair, and they took wives for themselves of all that they chose The Nephilim [giants, heroes, fierce warriors—the meaning is unclear] were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went in to the daughters of humans, who bore children to them.
These were the heroes that were of old, warriors of renown. The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. What could the godly line of Seth—narrowed eventually to only Noah and his family—do against a culture so depraved that God would eventually decide to destroy it utterly? Some situations may be redeemable.