Bible Lesson: Genesis 2:7-15
Theme Verses: Vs. 15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.
Dr Sam Higginbottom founder of Allahabad Agriculture Institute (now Sam Higginbottom University of Agriculture Technology & Sciences) was a renowned agriculturist, great American missionary and a humble servant of God. He laid the foundation of the Institute on ‘Gospel & Plough.’ He believed that the Word of God has power to transform the lives of an individual in such a way that it creates a sense of responsibility to work. There is a beautiful story from Dr. Higginbottom’s farm about Harry Dutt the son of a native Christian preacher. Harry was a spoiled, lazy and unreliable student. After one term at the Jumna Farm, Dr. Higginbottom told him not to come back as he was wasting his time. Harry became very upset, but finally begged for another chance. He was given five acres of undeveloped land to see what could be done with it. After a year, a delegation of Indian princes visited the mission farm. They were greatly pleased by all they saw, but were fascinated by one lot of five acres. ‘Who had charge of that?’ asked one of the men. Dr. Higginbottom called that young boy: “Come here, Harry Dutt, the Maharajah is asking about your little farm.” In no time Harry Dutt was offered a fine position by the Maharajah as gardener-in-chief of his own private estate. The boy refused, however, because he preferred to teach farming in a mission school at a much smaller salary. He became one of the best teachers with Dr. Higginbottom at the Institute, helping to train other Indian farmer boys to help India.
The Word of God is the source of all creation (John 1:1-3). God accomplishes his will through his Word. “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made…. For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast” (Ps. 33:6, 9). The phrase “God said” occurred nine times in the creation passage. It is through the Word of God that the formless and void earth was filled with life. Further God took some dust which too had no form; He gave shape to it and breathed His life into it. As soon as life entered the body, Adam was created and placed in the Garden of Eden. The purpose of placing them in the Garden was ‘to till the land and care for it.’ In Hebrew ‘to till’ is to cultivate the soil. Commandment to till the land and care for creation has divine lessons for all of us (a) It depicts symbiotic relationship of humankind with the entire ecosystem (b) It is the command to work and manage the garden as good and responsible stewards (c) To discover and study various elements hidden in the earth crust as mentioned in Proverbs 25: 2-3, ‘it is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out’ (d) To have a humble attitude towards the creation of God. Dr. Higginbottom in his work Gospel And Plow writes, ‘As man subdues the earth, finds out about fire, and water, about soil and learns the chemical, physical, biological, economic and spiritual laws, … [through this act] man not only develops himself but with every new conquest of the laws of nature… he helps to free human life of its drudgery and monotony.’
Scripture helps us to become effective and responsible stewards in God’s created world. We are not called to trample and destroy God’s work but we are expected to work sincerely in order to beautify and preserve it for the generations to come. According to Babylonian Talmud, the sage, Honi, was walking along a road, he saw a man planting a carob tree. Honi asked him, ‘How long will it take for this tree to bear fruit?’ ‘Seventy years,’ replied the man. Honi then asked, ‘Are you so healthy that you expect to live that length of time and eat its fruit?’ The man answered, ‘I found a fruitful world because my ancestors planted it for me, and likewise I am planting for my children.’ Friends, the health of our soil, water and air lies in our own hands. If we care our earth today then tomorrow the earth will care for our coming generation. Jesus Christ beautifully communicates God’s concern for plants and animals as mentioned in Mt. 5:45, 6:25-30, 10:29-30. God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden, He made him custodian of the entire Garden. We as the bearer of God’s image are the caretakers of this planet. We should not forget that the earth belongs to God (Ps. 24:1-2) and our dwelling here in this world is temporary (2 Corinth 5:1). Therefore we are expected to recognize the beauty and the handiwork of God in every member of creation. When Harry Dutt realized his responsibility towards the work given to him, He was a changed man and through his hard labour he transformed his surrounding and proved himself to be a dedicated servant of Christ. Gospel reminds our responsibility and mission as good stewards which has its base in Jesus’ Greatest Commandments of love. As follower of Lord Jesus Christ we are called to love God as well as love our neighbors that include the whole ecosystem. Political situations may change, government policies may differ, economical condition may decline, pride and greed may increase but our character of love rooted in Christ Jesus should always strive for the betterment of the environment. Church has to play an important task towards creation care. Let us become effective and prudent to combat environmental crisis in order to have a better and safe planet. As our good Lord keeps and sustains us, so we must keep and sustain our Lord’s creation. Towards the end we will also be giving our account to God in heaven.
God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on
trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars. Martin Luther