Genesis 2:15-17 - The First Charge or Covenant: Man’s Purpose Upon the Earth

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Above all other verses in the creation account, these verses show why God created man.  Very simply stated, God wants to live with a being who freely chooses to live with Him.  God wants to live with a being who has the ability to choose to live with Him and who will choose to live with Him.  God wants to live with a being who has freedom of choice, a being...

·         who will choose to know God, to know the goodness and grace of God.

·         who will choose to serve God.

·         who will choose to live with God: to love, worship, and fellowship with God.

God does not want to coerce man; God does not want man to be a robot that has been run off an assembly line and programmed to serve and worship God.  God wants man to have freedom of choice, the ability to choose to live either with God or apart from God. 

This is clearly seen by looking at the nature of man revealed in the following verses.

·         Man is seen to be highly intelligent and physically strong.  He is made responsible for thinking, planning, and cultivating the Garden (Genesis 2:15).

·         Man is seen to have the ability to communicate with others.  God is seen talking and sharing with him (Genesis 2:16-17).

·         Man is seen to have the ability to will and to choose.  He possesses freedom of will (Genesis 2:16-17).

·         Man is seen to have needs and drives that have to be met both by his environment and by God.  His environment has to provide work, food, and beauty for him.  God has to provide instructions, directions, love, worship, fellowship, and purpose, meaning, and significance for him (Genesis 2:15-17).

·         Man is seen to be a spiritual being who requires spiritual direction and godly fellowship for his life (Genesis 2:15-17).

·         Man is seen to be a being who is very capable of responding to others, of loving and of expressing appreciation to others.  God is here interacting with him (Genesis 2:15-17).

·         Man is seen to have been a being of perfection and of immortality, a being who was morally perfect, physically perfect, and spiritually perfect.

·         Man is seen to be a being who has desires and urges that push him toward that which appeals to the flesh and which looks attractive and beneficial.  The trees in the Garden and the prohibition governing the tree of the knowledge of good and evil show this (Genesis 2:16-17).

·         Man is seen to be a being of curiosity—a being who has the drive to know more and more, even if the knowledge leads to evil (Genesis 2:17).

Much is revealed about the nature of man in these three brief verses, and much more could be added to the list above.  God has created man with freedom of choice.  Again…

·         God wants to live with people who choose to live with Him.

·         God does not want people with Him who do not want to be with Him.  God wants to share His grace and goodness with those who want to experience His grace and goodness.  

·         This is the discussion of this passage of Scripture.  These verses cover “The First Charge or Covenant: Man’s Purpose Upon Earth.”

!! A.                 To know the goodness and grace of God (v.15a).

1.                  “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden…”  (v.15a).

a)                  What God did for the first man Adam.

(1)                 God made paradise for man.  The garden was the most perfect paradise imaginable! 
(2)                 God took Adam and placed him within the boundaries of the Garden, still living in the world that God created but the Lord wanted Adam to live within the boundaries of the Garden. 
(3)                 God wanted Adam to know and experience paradise, the great gift of God, the goodness and grace of God.
(4)                 We all have to live in this world but God does not want us to partake of the world system:

John puts it this way in his first epistle "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever." (1 John 2:15-17, NKJV)

Paul urged his brethren to "present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." (Romans 12:1-2, NKJV)

(5)                 God knows what’s best for us, therefore, when He saves us He puts us within some boundaries, telling us of things which we should no longer partake of:
(a)                 Ephesians 5:1-21 – the Lord tells us what we should not longer be partaking of and then showing us what we should be doing. 

b)                  God’s purpose for man has not been defeated by Adam’s sin.

(1)                 Everything that was lost by Adam’s sin has been regained by Christ.  How?  By Christ’s death.  We have partaken of Christ. 

The writer of Hebrews says "Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.  For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”" (Hebrews 3:12-15, NKJV)

(2)                 Remember: God’s purpose for creating man is to show man the riches of His goodness and grace and the summit of God’s goodness and grace is seen in the giving of His Son:

Paul give a description of our past in Eph.2:1-3, then says "But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."  (Ephesians 2:4-7, NKJV)

Our Lord Jesus Christ "bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness— by whose stripes you were healed.”  (1 Peter 2:24, NKJV)

c)                  Being called and placed by God.

(1)                 Think about this: God put Adam in the Garden.  The greatest thing in the entire world is to be called and placed by God.  No matter where it is, the place God chooses for us is the best place to be.
(2)                 Noah was called to build an ark…  Abraham was called to leave his home for a strange land…  John the Baptist called to prepare the way of Christ… apostles were called to follow Christ…
(3)                 How about you?  Where has God called you? 
(a)                 2 Timothy 1:9 – what God has called us to
(b)                1 Thess.4:7 – what God has not called us to

!! B.                To serve God by working and taking care of the garden (v.15b).

1.                  “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden… to tend and keep it…”  (v.15a).

a)                  Man was to look after the garden.

(1)                 The word “tend” means to cultivate, till, work
(2)                 The word “keep” means to watch over, to guard, to look after, & to take care of. 
(3)                 So mans responsibility was to keep paradise as paradise.  God had created the Garden, the most perfect, beautiful, and bountiful paradise imaginable; it was up to man to diligently keep the Garden perfect, beautiful, and bountiful.
(4)                 Today, we have a responsibility to take care of what God has given us (material things. Etc).  But we know that all these things we own will one day burn up.
(5)                 However, there is something of even greater value that we are to diligently keep, God’s Word!

Speaking about the Word of the Lord, David says "Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward.”  (Psalm 19:11, NKJV)

Psalm 119 which speaks about God’s Word says "You have commanded us To keep Your precepts diligently…  "Oh, that my ways were directed To keep Your statutes..! "You are my portion, O Lord; I have said that I would keep Your words…" "I made haste, and did not delay To keep Your commandments." (Psalm 119:4, 5, 57, 60, NKJV)

The treasure of the good news of salvation revealed in the Scriptures, is also to be guarded and kept,  Paul says to Timothy "Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you." (2 Timothy 1:13-14, NASB95)

The Lord promises us that "He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways."  (Psalm 91:11, NASB95)

b)                  Man was to be a responsible person.

(1)                 Man was created to be a responsible person and an active, working person.  Not inactive, idle, slothful, complacent, or lazy.  Man was made to work and to work hard.
(a)                 What does the Bible say about laziness & poverty?

We read in Proverbs 6 "A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest”— Your poverty will come in like a vagabond And your need like an armed man.”  (Prov. 6:10-11)

He goes on to say in chapter 20 "Do not love sleep, or you will become poor; Open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with food."  (Proverbs 20:13, NASB95)

And the end result of laziness is not good "I passed by the field of the sluggard And by the vineyard of the man lacking sense, And behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles; Its surface was covered with nettles, And its stone wall was broken down.”  (Proverbs 24:30-31)

Paul makes it abundantly clear that "if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.”  (2 Thessalonians 3:10, NASB95)

(b)                What does the Bible say about hard work?

Paul said to not be "lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;" (Romans 12:11, NASB95)

Remember that we are serving God in everything we do "Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.  Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve." (Colossians 3:22-24, NASB95)

!!!! c)                  Man was to have a strong sense of purpose.

(1)                 Man needs to feel that he has a purpose in life, a purpose that’s worthwhile and that what he does really matters and is significant and counts for something.
(2)                 If a man’s work is significant, then he has a reason for getting up in the morning and living, and he feels worthwhile and has a strong purpose.
(3)                 Before I gave my life to the Lord, I hated my job and thought “Is this all there is to my life?” 
(4)                 What motivates you to get up in the morning?  What sense of purpose do you have? 
(5)                 The most satisfying sense of purpose and self-worth comes from having ones spiritual needs met, which we will talk about next.

C.                To choose life with God: Love, worship, and fellowship (v.16-17).

1.                  “The Lord God commanded the man…”  (v.16).

a)                  The incentive to choose life with God (v.16).

(1)                 Man was given every tree in the Garden except one.  Man had everything:
(a)                 a home in paradise
(b)                perfection: he was sinless
(c)                 all the trees and food of paradise
(d)                the tree of life, of immortality (Genesis 2:9)
(e)                 the love, presence, and fellowship of God
(2)                 Man had the attraction and the right to all the fruit in the Garden.  There was only one fruit he could not touch—only one fruit among all the fruit.
(3)                 We see that man chose his way rather than God’s: man will often times neglect what God offers and take what he wants:

Proverbs says "There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death." (Proverbs 14:12)

(4)                 "How will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation (Heb.2:3)?  God wants man to freely choose to live with Him, not be forced to do so.                

2.                  “Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat…”  (v.17a).

a)                  The one prohibition (v.17a).

(1)                 How was God going to arrange for man to exercise his freedom of choice, his will?  How was God going to test man’s choice—his love and loyalty—for God? 
(2)                 Here was the test: man now has a choice that had to be made.  This test involved one simple prohibition.
(3)                 Man had to be tested to show that he loved God above all else, that he wanted to live with God.  The test was essential; otherwise, man would be nothing more than a robot.  Note three significant facts.
(a)                 There had to be something for man to choose other than God.  If a man was to make a choice for God, the opportunity to turn away from God had to be present.   

(i)                   One of man’s basic needs and drives was to satisfy his hunger with the luscious fruit so richly provided.  What better way for man to exercise his ability or choice for God than through the flesh, than to have a commandment involving the fruit needed to meet his physical need for food?

(b)                God gave man a choice, a very simple and easy choice, but set only 1 restriction.

!!!!!! (c)                 God gave man this choice for a very specific reason: man is a spiritual being.  Only God can meet the spiritual need that every human has:

(i)                   John 6:22-29The problem is man try’s to fill the spiritual need with material, fleshly things:

(ii)                Man Should Search Diligently To Find Christ

Man should seek and seek until the Lord is found—Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near (Is.55:6)

David instructed his Solomon to “know God… serve Him with a loyal heart & a willing mind… if you seek Him He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever (1Chron.28:9). 

God said in Jeremiah 29:11-13—For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

3.                  What Are The Principles Behind Finding Satisfaction In Life?

a)                  Jacob & Esau (Genesis 25:27-34)    

(1)                 Beware Of Paying Too High A Price For Temporary Satisfaction.  Esau traded the lasting benefits of his birthright for the immediate pleasure of food.  He acted on impulse, satisfying his immediate desires without pausing to consider the long-range consequences of what he was about to do.  We can fall into the same trap.
(a)                 When We See Something We Want, Our First Impulse Is To Get It.  At first we feel intensely satisfied and sometimes even powerful because we have obtained what we set out to get.  But immediate pleasure often loses sight of the future.
(b)                We can avoid making Esau’s mistake by comparing the short-term satisfaction with its long-range consequences before we act.
(2)                 Beware Of Exaggerating Needs In Order To Rationalize Poor Choices.  Esau exaggerated his hunger.  I am “dying of starvation,” he said.  This thought made his choice much easier because if he was starving, what good was an inheritance anyway?
(a)                 The pressure of the moment distorted his perspective and made his decision seem urgent.  we often experience similar pressures.

b)                  David When He Was In the Wilderness of Judah (Psalm 63:1-5)

(a)                 God Alone Can Satisfy Our Deepest Longings!  Hiding from his enemies in the barren desert of Judah, David was intensely lonely. He longed for a friend he could trust to ease his loneliness.

c)                  Solomon Explains That Striving After Pleasure Is Vanity (Ecclesiastes 2:11-26)

(1)                 Real, Lasting Satisfaction Can Only Be Found In God—Is Solomon recommending we make life a big, irresponsible party?  No, he is encouraging us to take pleasure in what we’re doing now and to enjoy life because it comes from God’s hand.
(a)                 True Enjoyment In Life Comes Only As We Follow God’s Guidelines For Living.  Without him, satisfaction is a lost search.  Those who really know how to enjoy life are the ones who take life each day as a gift from God, thanking him for it and serving him in it.
(2)                 The Desire To Satisfy God’s Requirements Ought To Be Our Highest Goal—Many sincere seekers for God are puzzled about what he wants them to do.
(a)                 The Religions Of The World Are Mankind’s Attempts To Answer This Question.
(b)                Satisfying God Does Not Come From The Work We Do, But From Whom We Believe. The first step is accepting that Jesus is who he claims to be. All spiritual development is built on this affirmation. Declare in prayer to Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (see Matthew 16:16), and embark on a life of belief that is satisfying to your Creator.
(3)                 Christ’s Presence Satisfies Our Deepest Desires—People eat bread to satisfy physical hunger and to sustain physical life.
(a)                 We can satisfy spiritual hunger and sustain spiritual life only by a right relationship with Jesus Christ.  No wonder he called himself the bread of life.
(b)                But bread must be eaten to sustain life, and Christ must be invited into our daily walk to sustain spiritual life.

d)                  Now, back to Adam: Adam had to choose; he had to make a decision.

(1)                 The tree was there.  If he left the forbidden fruit alone, he would be obeying God and choosing to live with God.  If he ate the fruit, he would be disobeying God and choosing to walk his own way in life.
(2)                 The same is true with us.  We have to choose; we have to make a decision.
(a)                 Jesus Christ, God’s Son, has come to earth. He is there.
(b)                If we ignore, neglect, deny, or rebel against Him, we disobey God and choose to live without God.
(c)                 If we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior, we obey God and choose to live with God.

"But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name," (John 1:12, NASB95)

"“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:16, NASB95)

"This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us." (1 John 3:23, NASB95)

"“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants," (Deuteronomy 30:19, NASB95)

"“If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”" (Joshua 24:15, NASB95)

(3)                 Man does not live by bread alone, but by every Word that comes out of the mouth of God. 
(a)                 Life—true fellowship, worship, and service—with God is found by living in the Word of God and letting the Word live itself out in us.

"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NASB95)

"I have chosen the faithful way; I have placed Your ordinances before me." (Psalm 119:30, NASB95)

!!! 4.                  “The day that you eat of it you shall surely die…”  (v.17b).

a)                  The result of disobedience: Death (v.17b).

(1)                 The Hebrew literally says, “Dying, you shall die.”  If man disobeys God—fails to choose life with God—he dies.  Death is sure, absolute, certain.  It cannot be stopped.
(2)                 In the Bible death means separation—separation from God.
(a)                 If a man chooses to live without God, then he will not live with God. He will die—be separated, cut off from God.
(b)                This is exactly what Adam chose. He turned away from God—away from God’s Word—and turned to his own will and way in life. He did his own thing.  As a result, he died.

"Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’" (Matthew 7:22-23)

(3)                 Note that death is to be feared by those who choose not to live with God. God warns man time and again (Hegb.9:27).

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