I have the privilege of spending some time in the Rocky Mountains this week and appreciate the majesty of the mountains. Yet, there is not very good soil in those mountains for farming. It may be good terrain for mountain goats, mountain lions and mountain lovers, but not for corn, soy beans or hay. Down on the high plains there are some great wheat fields and even great places to grow potatoes in the state of Idaho. To grow anything, the soil has to be “worked.”
Moses recorded in Genesis 2:5 the principle of working the ground. He wrote, “…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.”
Let’s note two things. First, God caused it to rain. The Hebrew grammar of the verb “caused to rain” is a hiphil stem which is causative. God caused the rain. God is sovereign over all details of the earth, including the rain. I remember I’d get so disappointed as a boy when it rained, because I couldn’t play outside. Rain is a precious commodity no matter what part of the country you live. God is in control. Use the rain well, but prepare when it doesn’t. God always has a purpose for rain or lack of it.
Secondly, the phrase, “till” the ground, is literally “serve” the ground. The Hebrew word is the same word for serving one in authority or serving God. Here, the ground doesn’t have authority over man, but man serves it, because it is from the land he gains his sustenance. Tilling is serving, so that I can provide for my family. Serving (work) is good and part of the pre-curse environment.
When we continue to work or create for the sake of comfort or luxury [like labor-saving devices], in order to get out of work, we may be missing God’s design. Work is part of the pre-curse environment of creating a better place in which to bless others. Laziness is part of the curse (Pro. 19:15; Ecc. 10:18). Put your hand to the plow and enjoy the fruit of your hands, as Moses wrote, “Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.” (Gen. 2:15 NKJ)