Here’s the way another of my reviewers responded.
I like the way you have explained this verse in the lesson, but I still think God had Adam and Eve doing important, meaningful work in the garden while also worshipping, resting and obeying. Otherwise, why does God tell us to subdue the earth — the earth is perfect when He said this, but it still needed subduing. Adam and Eve helped God to spread the seeds around the land and further the multiplying process, among other things. Also, why do all modern translations not translate the words in the ways you have said? Maybe there is both a literal and spiritual meaning to Adam’s work …
I’m not entirely comfortable with the idea that God needed help. I have to think the garden was perfect, as this reviewer says. Again I ask — What if Adam hadn’t eaten the forbidden fruit but also hadn’t done any work in the garden? Without the knowledge of good and evil, it couldn’t have been sin.
I think this would be a good point to look at the first two chapters of Genesis and see what exactly God did tell Adam to do. As I read it, I come up with three things.
1. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth (Genesis 1:27-28). God told Adam to have a lot of children. I’m guessing that Adam didn’t exactly consider this an obligation — God probably meant it more as encouragement.
2. … And subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth (Genesis 1:28). This is the whole “have dominion/be in charge” issue again, and again, I think it refers to Adam’s position, not his obligation. “Subdue” is also tied to multiplying, so it may simply mean that for man to rule the earth, there had to be men to rule. It obviously wasn’t God’s intention for earth to be empty. For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God Himself that formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited : I am the LORD; and there is none else (Isaiah 45:18).
3. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die (Genesis 2:16-17). Here’s the obedience issue. This is the entire law that Adam lived under. It’s all about Adam’s relationship with God, not about his role in the garden. Adam was in a position of fellowship with God and could do no wrong (except to eat the fruit) because he didn’t have the knowledge of good and evil. But once he understood the difference, he was required to do good.