The Garden of God - Gospel in Life

The Garden of God

Tim Keller |  December 7, 2008

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  • Creation
  • Work & Faith
Genesis 2:4-17
RS 310-4


If you stand back a little bit from Genesis 1 and 2, you’ll see that perhaps the main thing the first two chapters of the Bible are about is work, job, vocation.

We’re told in Genesis 2 that God sends the human race into the world to work. He put them in the garden to work it and take care of it.

With regard to the idea of work and vocation, there is 1) an assumption, 2) a direction, 3) a burden, and 4) a provision made.

Genesis 2:2–17

The start of Genesis teaches us the importance of work, showing that even God worked before taking a break. People were trusted to care for the garden, which shows work is valuable and gives us purpose. This shows how closely work connects to our lives and our bond with God.

1. There is an assumption

Christian teachings value all work, an idea from Genesis where God is shown as a worker. This contrasts with the Greco-Roman view that manual work is lowly. The New Testament, through Jesus’ life and resurrection, tells us that our physical life is just as important as our spiritual one. Salvation is not only about individual souls reaching heaven, but also about our bodies being saved and the world being renewed. This shows that all jobs are valuable because they help create order from chaos.

2. There’s a direction

Work is a way to creatively use our energy, just like gardening. We can use raw materials to help people thrive. This applies to all areas, such as music or architecture, where we use resources creatively. Even if society pressures us to see work as a way to earn status or wealth, true happiness comes from seeing work as a way to serve others. This was seen during World War II when necessary work brought happiness.

3. There’s a burden on work

The story of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3 shows that death is more than physical; it’s everything, including work, breaking down due to our broken bond with God. Work, meant to be a creative way to serve others, can become pessimistic or overly idealistic if we forget its true purpose or ignore human faults. Understanding the doctrines of creation and the fall helps us see work clearly, acknowledging its difficulties and its value.

4. There’s a provision

Rest is a gift from God, not something we earn through work. This deep rest, full of peace and hope, is seen in God’s seventh day of creation and in the fulfillment of wishes in the new heavens and earth, as seen in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Leaf by Niggle.” This deep soul rest is available through Jesus Christ, who has done everything needed for us to have a right relationship with God.



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