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The archetype: God and humans both work

The archetypal stories in Genesis set many of the basic Biblical assumptions about life. Among those is the principle of work. Work was always a part of God’s original, “good” creation, rather than being any kind of punishment. The simple reality is that both God and humans work, creating and maintaining life.

  • In Genesis 2:15, God “put [the man] in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” God’s command to work came before sin entered the world. The Hebrew word for “work” (abad) meant “preparing” or “tending,” which implied that there was more work to do. From the start, God invited humans to join in his work in the world. What are your feelings about work? Do you see work as something God intended, or in a negative light?
  • In the ancient Hebrew foundation story, a fateful shift took place when humans chose to ignore God’s wisdom, and sought to be their own masters in the world. It was not that God imposed work as punishment—it had been part of life all along. But sin created conditions in which work became more difficult to carry out effectively. How did Genesis 3:17-19 explain why work can be harder than God originally intended?


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