God’s Intention for Work (Genesis 2) - God’s Word for Work, Online Video Bible StudySmall Group Study / Produced by TOW Project and Partners
God's Intention for Work (Genesis 2)
1. Leader gathers the group in an online meeting.
2. Leader shares screen and audio.
3. Leader plays video. The video includes:
- Introduction to God's Word for Work
- Opening prayer
- Bible reading: Genesis 2
- 1 minute for quiet reflection
- Excerpts from the Theology of Work Bible Commentary: God Creates the World and God Creates and Equips People to Work
4. Leader pauses the video and the group discusses the readings.
5. Leader resumes the video with the closing prayer.
God, we invite you to speak to us through the Bible today. Show us what your word means for our work. Amen.
Bible reading: Genesis 2
Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.
This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, before any plant of the field was in the earth and before any herb of the field had grown. For the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground; but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground.
And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads. The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one which skirts the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. And the gold of that land is good. Bdellium and the onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one which goes around the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Hiddekel; it is the one which goes toward the east of Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates.
Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 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.”
And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.
And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.
And Adam said:
“This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
Excerpts from the Theology of Work Bible Commentary: God Creates the World and God Creates and Equips People to Work
The first thing the Bible tells us is that God is a creator. God speaks and things come into being that were not there before, beginning with the universe itself.
Creating a world is work. In Genesis chapter 1, God accomplishes all his work by speaking. “God said…” and everything happened. The display of God’s infinite power in the text does not mean that God’s creation is not work, any more than writing a computer program or acting in a play is not work. If the transcendent majesty of God’s work in Genesis 1 nonetheless tempts us to think it is not actually work, Genesis 2 leaves us no doubt. God works immanently with his hands to sculpt human bodies, dig a garden, and plant an orchard. These are only the beginnings of God’s physical work in a Bible full of divine labor.
All creation displays God’s design, power, and goodness, but only human beings are said to be made in God’s image. Something about us is uniquely like him. Genesis 1 and 2 develops human work in five specific categories: dominion, relationships, fruitfulness, provision, and limits.
To work in God’s image is to exercise dominion. This begins with faithfully representing God in our workplaces. How would God go about doing our job? What values would God bring to it? What products would God make? Which people would God serve? What organizations would God build?
To work in God’s image is also to work in relationship with others. God says, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner” (Genesis 2:18). This is the first time that God pronounces something "not good." Eve is created as Adam’s “helper” and “partner” who will join him in working the Garden of Eden. To be a helper means to work. To be a partner means to work with someone, in relationship.
Many people form their closest relationships when some kind of work—whether paid or not—provides a common purpose and goal. In turn, working relationships make it possible to create the vast, complex array of goods and services beyond the capacity of any individual to produce. Without relationships at work, there are no automobiles, no legislatures, no stores, no schools, no hunting for game larger than one person can bring down. And without the intimate relationship between a man and a woman, there are no future people to do the work God gives.
To work in God’s image is to bear fruit and multiply. God could have created everything imaginable and filled the earth himself. But he chose to create humanity to work alongside him to actualize the universe’s potential. Adam and Eve are given two specific kinds of work: gardening (a kind of physical work) and giving names to the animals (a kind of cultural, scientific, and intellectual work). Our work is both physical and creative. Through our work, God brings forth products and services, knowledge and beauty, organizations and communities, and praise and glory to himself.
- How does what you heard apply to your work?
God, thank you for being present with us today. Please stay with us in our work, wherever we go. Amen.