While all this was going on, I was also working on a Bible survey series and found myself right back in Genesis 2. I took a different angle this time and didn’t bring up the PDK/RWO issue. But during the course of my study, I was reading in The Genesis Record, by Henry M. Morris. (Creation-Life Publishers, 1976)
He has this to say on Genesis 2:15:
Before explaining to Adam the terms of his “probation,” God first assigned him the specific duty of caring for his garden home. Apparently it was later, after God had formed Eve, that He gave the two of them the much broader commission to exercise dominion over the entire creation (Genesis 1:28-29). At this point, Adam was instructed merely to till the ground in the garden of Eden, to dress it and keep it. Even though there were as yet no noxious weeds, the ground was so fertile and the plant cover so luxuriant that its growth needed to be channeled and controlled.
It is noteworthy that, even in the perfect world as God made it, work was necessary for man’s good. The ideal world is not one of idleness and frolic, but one of serious activity and service. Even in the new earth to come, after sin and the curse have been completely removed, Scripture says “that his servants shall serve Him” (Revelation 22:3).
Adam was told to “keep” the garden. The word means actually to “guard” it. There is no thought involved of protecting it from external enemies, of which there were none, but rather that of exercising a careful and loving stewardship over it, keeping it beautiful and orderly, with every component in place and in harmonious relationship with the whole.
First of all, Genesis 1:28-29 is after Genesis 1:27, which says male and female He created them. So the idea that Adam was tilling the ground but not exercising dominion until Eve comes along is simply wrong. The last sentence of the first paragraph is total speculation based on his PDK interpretation.
Second, in the second paragraph, Morris uses Revelation 22:3 as proof that man will still be working after the curse has been removed. Revelation 22:3 reads: There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him. On a hunch, I looked up the meaning of the word “serve,” the basis for Morris’s entire argument here. It comes from the Greek word latreuo, which means — you already guessed it, didn’t you? — it means “worship.”
Thirdly, in Morris’s third paragraph, he comes up with yet another definition of “keep” as used in Genesis 2:15, which means that the word must allow separate interpretations — including the RWO interpretation, perhaps. The rest of that third paragraph is just speculation.
So now what. I’d heard from several different sources, all of them leaning toward the traditional PDK interpretation, although a few of them dabbled with the RWO interpretation. Taken all together, almost every aspect of the RWO interpretation was allowed by somebody.
Instead of convincing me that I was wrong, everything to this point just made me more convinced that there was something to it.
I just had to find an answer to the issue of the garden and not God being the object of “dress/worship” and “keep/obey.”