Genesis 2:15. The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.
Have you ever seen a police car with the motto “To protect and serve” on the side? It’s a pretty common motto for police forces in America. And it’s straight out of the Bible.
In order to understand the life that Jesus is restoring to us today we have to keep travelling back to the garden. In Eden, God planted a paradise full of beauty and wonder. But there’s much more to this garden than meets the eye. Many biblical scholars see the garden of Eden as the earthly manifestation of God’s heavenly throne room. The temple where heaven meets earth and where God met man.
Genesis 3:8. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool (wind or Spirit) of the day…
This garden temple is where we belong. With God. In his presence. In his house.
This garden temple is where God put the man:
The word put means to set down gently. To rest. God placed the man in the garden like a mother laying her baby in a crib. Our human existence begins with rest. The internal rest that comes from intimacy with God and impact through God. The internal peace that comes from having a place and a purpose.
God rested us in his garden temple, and then he gave us two jobs: work it and keep it. These two words, abad and shamar, can also mean to serve and protect.
Adam and Eve were gently rested in the garden of God and then given the most important of tasks: serve and protect this garden. God’s temple home on earth. Today this might make them police officers. But in the Bible it made them priests.
Yes, priests. Abad and shamar are words used to describe the work that the priests will do in God’s tabernacle/temple. Here’s one of many examples:
Numbers 3:8. [The priests] shall guard [shamar] all the furnishings of the tent of meeting, and keep guard over the people of Israel as they minister [abad] at the tabernacle.
Old Testament priests served God by serving and protecting the people. That’s what priests do. And that’s what all image bearers were created to do. And, sadly, that’s what Adam and Eve failed to do. They served themselves rather than God and each other. They failed to protect the garden and each other from evil. Just one generation later their son, Cain, a “tiller (abad) of the ground” will murder his brother and when confronted by God will cry out “Am I my brother’s keeper (shamar)?”
Yes, you are, Cain. We all are.
Jesus Christ came to earth to fulfill Genesis 2:15. He was put on earth by God. He was gently rested into the womb of Mary. Jesus was sent to abad and shamar on Earth. To serve and protect mankind through his life and death for us on the cross. But unlike Adam, he wasn’t placed into a garden paradise. He was placed into a spiritually formless and void wilderness desperately in need of re-creation. A new creation that starts with Christ in us.
“To live is Christ” means Christ has come into the formlessness and emptiness of our lives. He has come to be the priest of our garden heart. To work and keep it by his life changing love. To be his brother’s keeper by being his brother’s servant. To walk with us in our garden hearts in the cool breezes of the Spirit. To restore our priesthood of serving and protecting by his eternal grace and love.
Do you see yourself as a priest in God’s temple? Why or why not?
You in Christ
How can knowing that you are being eternally served and protected by Christ change how you live today?
Christ in you
Who in your life is in need of Christ’s service and protection through your priesthood?
Playlist: Work and Keep.
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