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  • Chad Werkhoven

Genesis 2:15-17 - Covenant Keeper

God's promise to bless & keep you has its roots in the Garden of Eden.


Genesis 2:15–17 (ESV)

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 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.”


Listen to passage & devotional:


Belgic Confession of Faith, Article 14: The Creation and Fall of Man

We believe

that God created man from the dust of the earth

and made and formed him in his image and likeness—

good, just, and holy;

able by his own will to conform

in all things

to the will of God.

But when man was in honor

he did not understand it

and did not recognize his excellence.

But he subjected himself willingly to sin

and consequently to death and the curse,

lending his ear to the word of the devil.

For he transgressed the commandment of life,

which he had received,

and by his sin he separated himself from God,

who was his true life,

having corrupted his entire nature.

So he made himself guilty

and subject to physical and spiritual death,

having become wicked,


and corrupt in all his ways.

He lost all his excellent gifts

which he had received from God,

and he retained none of them

except for small traces

which are enough to make him


Moreover, all the light in us is turned to darkness,

as the Scripture teaches us:

“The light shone in the darkness,

and the darkness did not receive it.”

Here John calls men “darkness.”



The Garden of Eden was paradise on earth for sure, but whereas we tend to think of 'paradise' as a type of vacation spot offering luxurious relaxation, God had a much different itinerary in mind for His image bearer. He placed Adam in Paradise in order to "work it."

It's important to notice here in the second chapter of Genesis that the fall into sin has not yet occured. The idea of work isn't a result of the curse that followed sin. Our work is cursed for sure, but since we're created in the image of a God who works and creates, it makes sense to understand that even in a perfect, sin free paradise, that we're designed to work as well.

We also see here that one of Adam's primary objectives was to keep it that way (perfect and sin free). That little phrase "and keep" is not just a filler word added to "work" so as to maintain a literary rhythm, but it's a key explanation of the work Adam was to do.

Adam was much more than a gardener working the ground, he was God's appointed keeper.

Dig Deeper

The seemingly insignificant word 'keep' is anything but insignificant in the way it's used to describe Adam's occupation. Adam was to keep sin away, which is why it's so shocking that he tolerated the serpent at all just a few verses later. After Adam & Eve were evicted from the garden for failing to keep it, cherubim were placed at the entrance to keep them away from the Tree of Life (most English translations use the word 'guard,' but it's the same Hebrew word in Genesis 3:24).

Cain would soon famously ask if he was his brother's keeper, and both Abraham and his offspring Israelites would be told that their relationship with God was predicated on them keeping God's commandments. This little word 'keep' is laden with covenantal implications.

Failing to keep is the 'commandment of life' that Adam transgressed. God used covenantal language to stipulate man's responsibility in return for the life he'd been given, but Adam - representing us - didn't keep it. This is why God graciously provided a new representative, one unstained by Adam's failure, to keep these covenantal obligations on our behalf.

This is exactly what God promised to His covenant people as they traveled toward the Promised Land thousands of years ago. It's a promise that you hear often as you meet together as the Lord's covenant people today when you receive His benediction: "May the Lord bless you and keep you."

  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our covenant God and Father, who created us to work and keep His creation;

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray for the strength and desire to keep God's commands and give thanks that He's promised to bless and keep you;



Read the New Testament in a year! Today: Matthew 9


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