Devotionals Genesis

Work and Care

Andre De Ruyter’s book, Truth to Power, provides one with a huge understanding into how State Capture Corruption crippled the power utility in South Africa. The revelations are almost unbelievable. The web of syndicates running through, from the top echelons of government, descending through many ministries of government, including those forming the security cluster is mind boggling. This is the backdrop to the load shedding in South Africa over the past 15 years and will continue indefinitely into the future. Backdrops are important to understand certain bits of information. The backdrop to Genesis 3 is Genesis 2:8-14. Please read this rather lengthy passage:

Ge 2:8 Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9 And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. 10 A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.) 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. 14 The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Asshur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. 15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”

1) God planted a garden:

Ge 2:8 Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden.

The word “garden” means an enclosure. The concept of shelter or protected spot seems to correspond to the concept of an Oriental Garden. When we consider the explanation of this garden in all its beauty and splendor … a pleasant home for man. It was a delight for man, hence its name Eden (delight). We are not told where Eden was other than it was “eastward” (in the east).

2) The shape of the garden.

Ge 2:9 And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.

This verse expands on chapter 1:11-12 and v29. Recently I reminded Jenny that her mom used to insist that when dishing a plate of food it needed to be well presented. She emphasized that when a plate of food looked nice it tasted good. That’s the picture I get reading … pleasing to the eye and good for food. God has taken care of man’s food requirements. Then to ensure the food supply chain was protected He provided abundant water (v10-14). God provided a river in the place called Eden that watered the garden, then separated into four headwaters (rivers). Commentators have suggested modern countries where rivers are today, but the problem is that these rivers do not have a common source. This means we do not know where they were. All we can do is speculate.

Further, it is uncertain why Moses included “gold … aromatic resin and onyx”. The gold he writes about was good. Could this be God approving gold mining? When some plants, especially trees are injured, they produce a thick, sticky substance called resin. Examples of resin are Frankincense, Myrrh and Benzoin used to produce essential oil, CO2 supercritical extracts, hydrosols and infused oils. Onyx stones are found in many countries of the world and are used for engravings, hard stone carvings and jewelry. How forward looking is God!

3) God placed the man he formed in the garden.

Ge 2:8 and there he put the man he had formed.

This verse looks backwards to chapter v26-28, but also forward to:

Ge 2:15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

Now the garden is called the Garden of Eden. Something interesting is that God made man outside of the garden and then placed him in the garden. All mankind are made outside of heaven, yet Christians will be placed in heaven forever after the Judgment Day.

(1) The word “work” here means “to serve” or “to till”. Before sin entered the man, his normal daily response was to work. God never created man to laze around. Made in the image and likeness of God includes working as God worked during the days of creation. Since the entrance of sin … fast forwarding to our day, many people do not want to work. They want a free handout. Often those who have employment do not work but receive a month end cheque. Productivity is at an all-time low in our country. In the face of this, thousands amongst the over 40% of people able to work, will work for half the salary … just to eat!

(2) The word “care” means “to watch” or “to guard”. The same will be true here … before sin, man had pride, caring for the garden to feed off it. The caring surely means watching or guarding to protect his livelihood. Andre De Ruyter points out that when he took over as CEO of Eskom, he purposely left his office to visit power plants. The first plant he visited had unkempt lawns and gardens. He found equipment laying everywhere. The workshop was filthy. The generating rooms were covered in coal dust. He visited the flagship plant … the newest in the fleet. The dust was meters deep. The gardens too looked awful. He says the staff had no pride in their job and no feeling of responsibility for the state’s equipment. Then he adds that those paid huge salaries … the plant managers … turned a blind eye to this disaster and were often missing from the operational floor. This is the result of sin, causing greed for the cheque and laziness in fulfilling the task paid for. As followers of the Lord Jesus we need to understand that we too are responsible to God for the work we do … or don’t do! The Eskom staff who are lazy are thieves. They are stealing from their employer and they are stealing from the state. Lazy Christians are thieves too. We shall be accountable to God for our labors or the lack thereof.

(3) As we think of “work” and “care”, we need to consider that God tells us in chapter one to rule. Ruling is work! It is not easy. Each Christian rules through living Gospel lives and through fulfilling the “work tasks” at the place of employment (wages means survival and it’s God given), in the home (demonstrating love for the family to provide a safe and secure environment), in the Church (fulfilling the duties God have gifted you to do and not being a pew sitter … a grabber) and in the community (whether helping on the school board, at the public library, sports club or on the home owners association).

Father, every country and every region in this world is beautiful, sometimes neglected but beautiful. Help us to care for our environment and help us to serve You, our family, our employer, our Church and society well. Amen.

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