Genesis 2:15: Humanity’s God-given Historic Mission
Twenty-two years ago (1990), the 202nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) witnessed to the agonizing scream coming from what this land’s Declaration of Independence celebrates as “Nature and Nature’s God.” The 1990 PCUSA Report, Restoring Creation for Ecology and Justice, calls upon the church to “recognize and accept restoring Creation as a central concern of the church, to be incorporated into its life.”
We have thus far failed our call; when understood and practiced, after all, the way will inaugurate Human Awakening. This call forms nothing less than humanity’s unifying Judeo-Christian-Islamic historic mission, as presented in Genesis 2:15. Western Christianity’s Bibles, however, present problematic translations of humanity’s historic mission from God. It therefore remains unrecognized and attacked.
The King James (1611) rendition explains Genesis 2:15 in this way—before Eve and Adam ate the forbidden fruit, God showed Adam the Garden of Eden, explaining “dress it and keep it.” The New Revised Standard Version (1948 with regular renditions thereafter) simply substitutes “till” for “dress.” Columbia Seminary’s distinguished Old Testament and Hebrew scholar Dr. William Brown, however, explains what that Hebrew phrase’s first verb, abad, actually communicates: “Abad refers to cultivation but means ‘to serve,’ as in a slave working for a master.” Thus, to record the verb abad as “dress it” or “till it” profoundly narrows its meaning. That way wrongly dresses Scripture’s call in a fanciful decorating direction focused upon select specialized occasions rather than being “fruitful” (Genesis 1: 28).
Understanding, let alone overcoming humanity’s modern transgressions adds knotty trouble to fulfilling our God-given historic human mission. But Jesus, the Holy Spirit and God call to grasp God’s partnering historic human mission. Though our human possibility to fulfill the way looks bleaker and bleaker, balanced hope from God-given reason has not yet died. The Spirit still beckons believers to help illuminate the way. This church’s Creation Care Team seeks to come more fully alive--exploring, celebrating, and serving--this Sunday, 22 April, at Earth Day on Ponce.
“To serve it [Creation] and keep it,” in short, sustains God’s “invisible” but “perceived” presence (Romans 1: 18-20) within our home planet Earth, the only known living planet among the hundreds of billions of star-centered solar systems.