Text: Genesis 2:4-17 2/26/2012
Thesis: Mankind was created to worship God in all of life.
Last week we took a look at worship. I gave you this definition: worship is the right response to God by the Spirit through Jesus Christ. So, worship begins with the revelation of God. The holy and glorious God shows up and his people worship him. But we can’t just bust into God’s presence and do whatever we feel like doing. If sinful humanity is going to worship the holy God we need a redeemer, a Savior who is Christ the Lord. And we need the Bible so we’ll know how to worship. According to the Word and through faith in the righteous One who took our sins upon Himself we come boldly into God’s presence. As we worship God it is the Spirit who empowers us to respond with fear and adoration, confession and commitment.
But the way it is now is not the way it has always been. Today we’re going to look at and learn from worship in the beginning. In Adam and Eve we see that you and I were created to worship. In these two people we see what we were created to do and I hope from this you will cherish the fact that in Christ you are a new creation. Because of Jesus sinful fallen people can again do what they were made to do. You were created to worship.
Read Genesis 2:4-17
I. We were created to serve and keep (Gen. 2:15)
The priestly Adam and Eve
Genesis 2:15 says, “The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” I want us to do some work here in verse 15 because this is worship language.
The Lord God took the man he had formed from the dust of the ground, the very man he had blown the breath of life into, and he put him in the garden. Now this word ‘put’ is important. It’s not the word like we use when we say, “I put some tomatoes in the garden” or “I put my socks in the washing machine.” That word does occur in the creation account in Genesis 2:8. But here in 2:15 the word is different. I like the translation “The Lord God took the man and set him in the Garden of Eden.” “Placed him in the Garden of Eden is equally attractive.” I like this translation because it makes the connection with worship more explicit. Let me show you what I mean.
Genesis 2:8 uses the common word for put but Genesis 2:15 uses a different word. In Exodus 16:33 Moses instructed Aaron to “Take a jar, and put an omer of manna in it, and place it before the LORD to be kept throughout your generations.” When a worshipper brought his offering of first fruits to the temple he would say, ‘And behold, now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground, which you, O LORD, have given me.’ Then the priests are instructed to “set it down before the LORD your God and worship before the LORD your God” (Deut 26:10). This word translated as put or place or set or even deposit is not the normal everyday word but one that often carries the idea of putting something in the presence of God.
If we look back to Genesis 2:15 we’ll see the reason God put Adam in the Garden, “to work it and keep it.” Now don’t run straight for your shovel and hoe. Working and keeping are two words that are often used to describe the work of the Levites and priests in the tabernacle and temple. To work can also mean to minister and most of the time it means to serve (Num 4:23, 24, 26, 30, 37, 41, 47). So we get the idea that Adam was created to minister, to serve, or to do the work God had given him.
Now, to keep means to guard or to obey like when the people kept the feasts or when Abraham kept God’s commands, statutes, and laws (Gen 3:24; 17:9; 26:5; Exod 12:17). Four times the words work and keep occur together in the book of Numbers and every time it describe the work of the priests (Num 3:7, 8; 8:26; 18:7; Deut 12:30; 13:4; Josh 22:5). Here is the point: Adam and Eve had a priestly function in the Garden. They were not just working to pass the time or fill their bellies. They were serving, working, ministering, keeping, tending, and obeying.
You see, the Garden of Eden was where heaven and earth converged. The Garden became the dwelling place of God. Remember your geography at the beginning. You have the earth, then Eden, then the Garden of/in Eden. I’m not denying the omnipresence of God I’m saying that physical humanity needed a physical way to meet with and commune with God. In this sense, God would come down and meet with his people in the Garden. So the Garden became a sanctuary with Adam and Eve serving and obeying Him.
Let me define sanctuary. A sanctuary is a holy place where the presence of God dwells (Ross, 83). In the Garden Adam and Eve would meet God. They would function as priests. This is how it was in the beginning humanity enjoyed God’s presence, served him and kept his commandments. I want you to grasp that mankind was created to serve God as priests. Adam and Eve exercised dominion over all of creation in obedience to God. Adam and Eve tended to and cultivated the Garden according to the wisdom of God. Everything Adam and Eve did in creation had to do with God. They belonged to Him, served Him, and served all of creation as His representatives.
So it doesn’t surprise us that when God called his people out of Egypt he called them a kingdom of priests (Exod 19:6). And it makes sense that he calls us a holy and royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:5, 9), It is what God has always intended for his people.
In the Garden we see Adam and Eve working and keeping, serving and obeying. This has been true worship from the beginning. Now I want to flesh out some specifics concerning serving God in his presence and serving all of creation as God’s representatives.
II. We were created to be with God
Worship involves focusing on God (Gen. 3:8)
In Genesis 3:8 we get the idea that the pattern has been disturbed. After Adam and Eve have rebelled against their Creator and disobeyed his commands we read this: “And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.”
As history progresses and Israel builds the tabernacle the term “walking” will be used to describe God’s presence in the Israelite tent sanctuary (Lev. 26:12; Deut 23:14; 2 Sam 7:6-7). In Leviticus 26:12 God promises, “I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people.” In Deuteronomy 23:14 Moses said, “Because the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and to give up your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy.” God walking in the tabernacle, in the midst of the people, and in the Garden emphasizes the relationship between the garden and the later shrines. Walking among the people is what God does. So in Genesis 3:8 it is not God’s walking in the garden that was unusual, but the reaction of man and his wife” (Wenham, WBC, 76).
What Adam and Eve did in these times is unknown to us but what the people of God did as God walked in their midst is not unknown. The whole point of the presence of God was to know and worship him. The highlight of visiting the temple or tabernacle was being purified from all uncleanliness so that the worshipper could enjoy the presence of God. The world with all that was sinful and separated from God was blocked out so the worshipper could admire God.
The beauty of the tabernacle and the temple would have brought the beauty of the Garden to mind. There was gold everywhere and precious stones like that found in Havilah. There were plants and trees graved and embroidered everywhere like that found in the lush garden. There were even cherubim embroidered on the veil “guarding” the holy of holies the place of God’s presence. That is exactly what we expect since it was cherubim who guarded the way back to the garden the place where God walked with his people (Gen. 3:24).
The tabernacle, temple, and Garden were places where people could commune with God. God’s presence dwelt there and he walked among his people. After the purifying sacrifices the people would pray to God and ask for his wisdom. They would praise him thanking him for who he is and what he has done. They would sing and shout and dance celebrating the close relationship they had with the holy and glorious God. All eyes were trained toward the Father.
Worship has always involved giving God our undivided attention. It was true then and it is true today. The need to focus on God and give him our attention has many implications on the way we are to worship. Let me name a few:
David and I must work to minimize distractions. We do not want what we say or do to distract you from God. So, we work on the music, think about the words, check the sound system, and try to point you toward God.
The need to focus on God also means that you need to minimize distractions. Saying mundane unnecessary things during the time dedicated to worshipping God is unhelpful and can be distracting to the people around you. Ringing cell phones, clipping finger nails, and chit-chat can easily get in the way. We are to be mindful of one another to help one another. We are to be mindful of God.
Husbands help your wife worship. Wives help your husband worship. Parents help your children and children help your parents. One of the regular things I talk to my children about is how important it is to not be a distraction in worship. So, it is my responsibility as best I can as the preacher to train my children to focus on God. If worship involves focusing on God we must give think about how to do this better and how to help one another improve.
Adam and Eve focused on God and he walked in their midst. Mambrino Baptist Church must focus on the Father and how do we see him? We see him as we gather in the name of Jesus Christ for the purpose of going to the Father. Jesus said, where two or three are gathered in his name he will be there among them (Mt 18:20). The presence of the Son makes any place a sanctuary; the place where God’s presence dwells so that his people can focus on him. This is worship.
III. We were created to listen to God
Worship involves obedience (Gen. 2:16-17)
There were two commands given by God to Adam and Eve. In Genesis 1:28 God told Adam and Eve, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” We’ll talk more about this in a moment. Let’s look at the next command in Genesis 2:15-17, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’”
One of the ways we worship God is by obeying His commands. The reason obedience is worship is because we are proclaiming the supremacy of God when we listen to him instead of others. When Adam and Eve obeyed the voice of Satan instead of the word of God they were making a value statement: Satan’s word is better than God’s word. Satan knows best, Satan speaks a better word, follow after the supreme Satan. Every sin of mine and yours says the same. Every sin says God is a fool and I know best. Every time we listen to God we value him. We worship him when we given primacy to him and listen to him instead of ourselves, our friends, and our culture.
So when the church caves to the homosexual agenda we’re saying something about God. We’re worshipping something. When the church listens to the culture and rejects the God-given roles for men and women we’re saying something about worship. When we gather together we are to value God by listening to his word. So we read it and we obey it. One of the best ways to improve our worship is for you to listen to God and obey; every day valuing God and walking according to his wisdom. Worship entails obedience.
IV. We were created to act like God
Worship involves the God-ward realization of potential (Gen. 1:28; Rom 12:2)
We are God’s image bearers. In Christ we become new creations. This has big implications for worship. What we’re talking about here is not worship proper or worship in the sense of personally entering the presence of God to give him the praise that he deserves. Instead we’re talking about that sense in which all of life is to be God-ward. It is that sense in which we acknowledge God and give thanks to him in everything (Eph. 5:20; 1 Thess. 5:18). A God-ward life seeks to do everything in a way that honors God, reflects God, and matches the will of God. Romans 14:23 tells us that everything that does not proceed from faith is sin. What does that mean exactly? What does it look like to live a life in which everything you do comes from faith? How can we worship God through all of life?
Let’s look at Genesis 1:28, “And God blessed [Adam and Eve]. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” It was God’s original plan for mankind to take what God had given him and order it in such a way that it continued to flourish. Now to subdue and to have dominion do not mean to exploit. Humanity was not given the license to strip-mine the earth because good gold and precious jewels were there (Gen. 2:10-14). To subdue a perfect and good creation is to tend to it so that it reaches its potential. To have dominion over the creation is to rule over it for the good of all and the glory of God. There were no lobbyists or special interests groups in the Garden. All of creation and all of life was to be used for the good of all and the glory of God.
Think about it this way: did God create Adam and Eve with a mature knowledge of all the potentials and when the fall occurred that knowledge was lost? What I’m asking is did Adam and Eve fully understand electricity, lose that knowledge through sin, and then mankind spent thousands of years trying to get it back? Or maybe scientists invented electricity or God injected electricity into the world when mankind was ready? Obviously that is foolish. Electricity has always been there in creation; the potential was there. What needed to happen was for humanity to develop that potential. The same is true for art, math, music, science, relationships, physical strength, and even culture. God didn’t intend for there to be only two image bearers but an entire earth full of image bearers living in harmony; a harmony that imaged the Trinity itself.
So, I believe part of what it means to be made in the image of God is ruling over ourselves and fulfilling our God given roles so that the potentials therein are discovered and maximized. So, what potentials are in you? Do you have a strong back or a mind that thinks abstractly or more logically? Do you have a compassionate listening ear, an artistic bent, or the ability to teach or lead? Maybe you are good with your hands, have a beautiful voice, or have some particular skill. When you begin to harness every avenue of life as an opportunity to live for the glory of God you are a living sacrifice (Romans 12:2).
Men, man up. Are you maximizing your potential for the glory of God or are you wasting away on the couch, in front of the computer, or in your man cave? What has God blessed you with and how are you using it? Are you using it? Do you know the potentials that are in your wife and are you working to help her realize them? What about your children and grandchildren? What about the church? Or are you exploiting your wife, your friends, your work, the church and even the earth for selfish gain? You were made to exercise a God-ward dominion that seeks to subdue every potential so that as it matures it sings the praises of our great God.
With this biblical worldview all of a sudden changing a diaper or scrubbing the toilet become an offering. Eating in such a way that maximizes the potentials of your body and the church body is an offering- whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31).
You were made to worship God and live for his glory. Christ redeemed you from your sins and the Spirit is transforming you more and more into the image of the faithful God-man Jesus Christ. In Christ, you have everything you need to realize the God-given potentials in yourself, your family, and your church. The question is if you are doing what God made you to do?
Our perfect Triune God created humanity in order to share himself with us. He doesn’t need your worship any more than he needed the bulls and goats sacrificed to him in the temple. But we need to worship Him. We were created to enjoy the holy and glorious God. We need to focus on him because there is so much out there that sucks the life and dulls the soul. We need to gather and enjoy the presence of God.
As we close this morning have you been able to do what God made you to do or has your sin and disobedience gotten in the way? Know this morning that worship can occur. Just as the Hebrews would offer a sacrifice, be cleansed, and again enter God’s presence. So, you to have a sacrifice. Christ has died as your atoning sacrifice, his blood has been spilt so you can be cleansed and again enter God’s presence.
Maybe you haven’t focused on God until right now. Maybe you haven’t been honest about your sin or struggles but now because of Christ you see that you are free to own your sin and be cleansed. Now is the time to worship. Let’s stand together as we give God the praise that he deserves.