Knowing that the Garden of Eden was a paradise, it’s easy to imagine Adam and Eve just chillin’ day and night there. But no! God gave them responsibilities to accomplish.
In this article, we’ll discover six of them.
1) To Reflect His Image
God created Adam and Eve in His image (Genesis 1:27).
What does God’s image mean?
The image of God (Genesis 1:27) refers to His “divine holiness,” power, glory, and perfect character (Francis Nichol, The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, volume 1, page 216).
In other words, it is the totality of His perfect being.
Manifesting this image is Christ the Son, the “eternal image of God,” the “radiance of God’s glory,” the “exact representation of His being,” and the “image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15, Hebrews 1:3, NIV; Raoul Dederen, Handbook of Seventh-day Adventist Theology, “God’s Image in Man”).
What does it mean that Adam and Eve were created in that image?
Being created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), Adam and Eve manifested both His “outward resemblance” and “character” (Francis Nichol, The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, volume 1, page 216).
This image “was most evident in terms of [their] spiritual nature,” which refers to their creation as “living [beings]” endowed with “free will” and “self-conscious personality,” Francis Nichol added.
Aside from the spiritual nature, Adam and Eve also bore the likeness of God’s physical and mental nature (Ellen White, Education 15.1 and Confrontation 10.2).
Physically, they were “graceful and symmetrical in form” and “regular and beautiful in feature.” And their faces were “glowing with the tint of health and the light of joy and hope,” Ellen White added in Education 20.2.
As you can see, Adam and Eve’s creation in God’s image was a holistic resemblance as it involved all aspects of personality.
Does it mean that Adam and Eve were exact duplicates of God and were equal with Him?
Adam and Eve were created “not as an extension of His being, but as a portrait achieved by His creative design” (Genesis 1:27, 31; Raoul Dederen, Handbook of Seventh-day Adventist Theology, “God’s Image in Man”).
And they were not equal with God.
As finite beings, they were “far inferior to [Him]” for they were made “a little lower than God” (Francis Nichol, The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, volume 3, page 649).
Summing it up, Adam and Eve were created as a masterpiece, not as a duplicate, of God’s image.
How were they to reflect God’s image?
Being created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), Adam and Eve were to “reflect [His] glory” (Ellen White, Education 15.1).
Their “faculties were capable of development; their capacity and vigor were continually to increase. Vast was the scope offered for their exercise, glorious the field opened to their research,” Ellen White elaborated.
So, it is by maximizing the skills God has given them and glorifying Him through those things could Adam and Eve reflect His image.
This applies to us as well. We can reflect God’s character by how we live and use our gifts to glorify Him.
2) To Tend and Keep the Garden
How was it like to be in Eden?
Imagine being in a place where “all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that [are] pleasing to the eye and good for food.” And you’re free to eat from any of these except one (Genesis 2:9, 16-17, NIV).
How about a river branching out into four headwaters that run long distances? One of the lands these rivers run through contains gold, aromatic resin, and onyx (verse 9).
How about being friends with all animals (verses 19-20) who won’t hurt nor swallow you?
These and many more pleasurable things were Adam and Eve’s everyday experience in Eden.
Such a life of paradise, isn’t it?
What was Adam and Eve’s responsibility then?
Adam and Eve could have spent all day just chillin’ in the Garden of Eden since they had everything they wanted (Genesis 2:9-17; Ellen White, The Adventist Home 26.3).
“When the Lord placed our first parents in the garden of Eden, it was with the injunction that they ‘dress it’ and ‘keep it'” (Genesis 2:15, KJV; Ellen White, Fundamentals of Christian Education 512.5).
In other words, Adam and Eve had to take care of the garden.
Why was there a need for this?
“The perfection in which all creation come forth from God’s hands did not exclude the need of cultivation.” This cultivation involved “human labor” (Genesis 2:15; Francis Nichol, The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, volume 1, pages 224-225).
Using their “physical and mental faculties,” they had to “preserve the garden in the same perfect state in which [they] had received it,” Francis Nichol continued.
Besides, God knew that Adam and Eve “[would] not be happy without employment. The beauty of the garden delighted [them], but this was not enough. [They] must have labor to call into exercise the wonderful organs of the body” (Ellen White, The Adventist Home 27.2).
“Had happiness consisted in doing nothing, man, in his state of holy innocence, would have been left unemployed.” God “knew what would be for his happiness; and no sooner had He created him than He gave him his appointed work,” Ellen White added.
Isn’t work wearisome and painful to do?
Well, at times, it may be.
But “God appointed work as a blessing, to occupy the mind, strengthen the body, and develop the abilities” of a man (Genesis 2:15; Ellen White, Beginning of the End 15.1).
Therefore, “work was not intended to be a curse” (Francis Nichol, The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, volume 1, page 222).
3) To Name the Animals
When were the animals created?
In the fifth and sixth days, God made “all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky” (Genesis 1:20-26; 2:19).
He brought them all to Adam “to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.” And he did (verses 19-20 of chapter 2, NIV).
Since Adam had to name the animals, does it mean God gave him the ability to speak right from creation?
Adam “was created with the faculty of speech…to express the observations made in his study of the animals” (Genesis 2:20; Francis Nichol, The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, volume 1, page 226).
Through this study, he was introduced to the natural sciences. And by naming them, he began to have “dominion over them,” Francis Nichol added.
In what order of species did he do it?
As Genesis 2:20 (KJV) states it, “Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field.”
Notice that the cattle is first in the enumeration. Why do you think so?
Well, “cattle may be mentioned first because they were to stand nearer to man in their future relations than other animals” (Francis Nichol, The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, volume 1, page 226).
Next in order is the fowl of the air, also translated as “birds in the sky” in the New International Version of the Bible. Why were these animals mentioned second?
“The birds” are what Adam “loves so much and of which some species were to become most helpful to him.” Francis Nichol explained.
Last in order was every beast of the field, translated as “wild animals” in the NIV Bible. Why were these animals mentioned last?
Unfortunately, the Bible and other sources gave no clear explanation for this.
What names did Adam give the animals?
Honestly, “it is impossible to discover” what names Adam gave the animals because “it is not known what language [he] and the antediluvian world spoke” (Francis Nichol, The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, volume 1, page 226).
Meaning to say, the animal names we recognize today may have been formulated by the scientists who discovered and studied them after the Fall.
Was it all Adam’s responsibility? Didn’t Eve have a contribution?
During this time, Eve was not yet created. It was only Adam taking the responsibility (Genesis 2:7-8, 15-17, 19-20).
Because of this, God realized, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” So, He decided to “make a helper suitable for him” (verse 18, NIV).
When Adam was asleep, God took one of his sides and covered it with flesh. From it, He made a woman and brought her to him, naming her Eve (verses 21-23).
Now, Adam had a “help meet” or “helper corresponding to him—one who was fitted to be his companion” in the tasks God entrusted him (Ellen White, The Adventist Home 25.3).
4) To Take Charge of All Other Creatures
Didn’t Adam and Eve’s responsibility over other creatures end by naming them?
Naming the animals was just one of Adam and Eve’s responsibilities over other living creatures.
More than that, God appointed them to “have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth” (Genesis 1:26, KJV).
Were they supposed to manage or supervise them?
Well, “have dominion” in Genesis 1:26 (KJV) is translated as “rule over” in the New International Version of the Bible, making Adam and Eve’s responsibility more specific.
True enough, “the relationship of man to the rest of the creation was to be one of rulership.” By transferring to Adam and Eve the ruling power over “all the earth,” God planned to make [them] His representatives over the earth (Francis Nichol, The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, volume 1, page 216).
They were given “sovereign dominion over the inferior creatures.” With this, under God, they were appointed as “their lord[s]” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Bible Commentary, 487.3).
Does it mean they could do whatever they wanted with their authority?
God made Adam and Eve wiser than the animals and gave them dominion over them (Genesis 1:26, 28).
But they “must not abuse them nor rule them with rigor.” They had to treat them with “compssion” and “utmost respect” (Matthew Henry’s Complete Bible Commentary 176.5).
5) To Never Eat From One of the Two Special Trees in the Garden
Remember what we talked about in the second item?
That is, in the Garden of Eden, “all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that [are] pleasing to the eye and good for food.” And Adam and Eve were free to eat from any of those except one (Genesis 2:9, 16-17, NIV).
Which tree was being excluded?
In the middle of the garden stood the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:9).
The tree of life “bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month.” Its leaves were “for the healing of the nations” (Ellen White, The Acts of the Apostles 592.2).
Meanwhile, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was the one God prohibited Adam and Eve to eat from (Genesis 2:16-17; Ellen White, Education 23.2).
What fruit was in this tree anyway? Was it harmful?
Well, it is difficult to “speculate what kind of fruit [the tree of knowledge] may have borne” since it “has not been revealed” (Genesis 2:17; Francis Nichol, The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, volume 1, page 225).
Honestly, “the fruit itself was harmless.” But God had His reasons for prohibiting Adam and Eve from tasting it, Francis Nichol added.
What were God’s reasons for not allowing Adam and Eve to eat from that tree?
It was mainly because God didn’t want Adam and Eve to know evil. And they would surely die if they ate it (Genesis 2:17).
Wait, the fruit was harmless, right? How come Adam and Eve would die if they ate it?
Yes, the fruit was harmless. But “God’s explicit commandment to refrain from eating it set this tree apart as the testing ground of man’s loyalty and obedience” (Francis Nichol, The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, volume 1, page 225).
Speaking of loyalty and obedience, “as a moral being, man had God’s law written upon his conscience.” But, to clarify the principles of that law, God needed to apply it to a specific situation, Francis Nichol continued.
This situation apparently refers to the existence of the tree of knowledge and God’s instruction to never eat from it among all other trees in the garden (Genesis 2:9, 16-17).
By disobeying this command, Adam and Eve would sin (Romans 4:15; 1 John 3:4). And sin would lead to death “for the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23, NIV).
Does it make sense?
Aside from those reasons, “God was the real owner of all things, even of those that Adam held in trust.” So, He had “the right to reserve any part of the creation for Himself,” Nichol added.
With this, “it would not have been unreasonable for Him to reserve a great share of this earth for Himself and to allow [Adam and Eve] the use of only a small portion of it,” he concluded.
As you can see, the issue is not the fruit but loyalty and obedience to God.
6) To Multiply, Fill, and Subdue the Earth
After creating Adam and Eve, God blessed them to multiply, fill, and subdue the earth (Genesis 1:28).
What does it mean to “multiply and fill the earth”?
The command to “multiply” (Genesis 1:28, KJV) and “fill the earth” (same verse in NIV) pertains to the “propagation and perpetuation of the [human] species” (Francis Nichol, The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, volume 1, page 217).
It is a blessing that “has never been rescinded by God” and is “the source of hundreds of millions of human beings who now fill all continents of this world,” Francis Nichol elaborated.
What does it mean to “subdue the earth”?
Subdue, in Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is defined as “to bring under control” or “to bring (land) under cultivation.”
With this in mind, being mentioned in Genesis 1:28, “subdue” covers Adam and Eve’s duty “to rule over the earthly creation works” (Francis Nichol, The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, volume 1, page 217).
So, is it just a repetition of God’s command in verse 26 (KJV), which says, “let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth”?
Well, yes. But the difference is that, with the addition of the phrase “subdue it,” God was “granting man the right to utilize for his necessities the vast resources of the earth,” Francis Nichol clarified.
To utilize the resources of the earth?
Yes, as in “by agricultural and mining operations, by geographical research, scientific discovery, and mechanical invention,” Nichol specified.
Let’s Wrap It Up!
In Eden, God expected Adam and Eve to:
- Reflect His image
- Take care of the garden
- Name the animals
- Rule over all creatures
- Refrain from eating the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil
- Dominate the earth
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