Adam, the Man: Guardian of the Garden

By: Drew Ham
Scholars are agreed that the Genesis 1 text, the first creation account, is a crescendo from the simple to the complex, or the simple to the most beautiful. For example on day one, God created the light. On day two he separated the land from the water. Leading up to day six, the pinnacle of creation, God created the most beautiful, or the most complex, of all created beings, mankind. The Genesis 2 creation account is an examination of the sixth day in particular, the creation of mankind. It explains that God created the man out of the dust and breathed life into him (Genesis 2:7). Then, after the creation of the man, it explains that the Lord created the Garden of Eden and placed the man in the garden.

The Genesis 2 account portrays the Garden of Eden as a sanctuary or a temple. In the ancient Near East, temples were often located on the side or top of a mountain. Eden is portrayed as an elevated sanctuary. Notice that the four rivers flow downward implying that the garden was elevated. Ezekiel 28 gives the impression that the Garden of Eden was a mountain sanctuary.
In Genesis 2:15, God took the man and put him in the garden to “work it and to keep it.” Those Hebrew words “work” and “keep” elsewhere in the Old Testament have been translated as “worship” and “obey.” Numbers 3:7-8, and 8:26 uses those verbs to require the Levites to be responsible to “guard” and “minister” to the people. Adam was a royal gardener, the priest in the sanctuary. He was a royal priest, a holy caretaker (see 1 Peter 2:9). Made in the image of God, Adam was God’s representative, His vice-regent, who had dominion over all the created things, and was placed in charge as governor of this majestic Garden (Genesis 1:26-28). His care over the Garden is an act of worship before the Lord. The manner in which Adam “tends the Garden,” or rules over the created order, is worship to God (I Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17).

In verse eighteen of Genesis 2, God says it is not good for man to be alone. So God causes Adam to fall asleep, and creates the woman from Adam’s side. Once again, this idea that the creation account is a crescendo from the simple to the most beautiful lends itself to the suggestion that the woman is the most beautiful of all the created things. She is the crown jewel of creation (see Proverbs 12:4; 31:10). She is the delicate, priceless vase or the “weaker vessel” as 1 Peter 3:17 explains her. She requires the special care, and guardianship of the royal gardener. She is to be cared for and treasured as a beautiful gift. Adam certainly recognizes the goodness of this gift as demonstrated by his joyous poetry in verse 23. The royal gardener’s responsibility is to be sure that this gift is nourished, and that she flourishes.

Let it be stated that the woman, Eve, is not simply an adornment or an ornament to be displayed. She was specifically designed to be Adam’s “helper.”

Perhaps this understanding of Adam as the guardian of the Garden should help us understand why God first approached Adam after “the fall” in Genesis 3. Adam was commissioned with the responsibility to watch over, to “keep” the Garden, and specifically the most beautiful of all the created things, the woman. Since Adam was given dominion over all the created things, why did he permit this conversation between the serpent and Eve to go uninterrupted? Why did Adam not protect his bride? Perhaps Adam’s passivity, his lack of responsibility and guardianship was his first area of failure.

Men, your responsibility to “work” and “keep” has not changed. We are still called to work/keep, worship/obey, to protect/minister. While the implications are many, who are the women in your life that you are responsible to protect? Your wife? Your daughter(s)? Your mother? Your sister(s)? How about the women within your local church? The Bible calls the church “the family of God.” Are not the women within your local church in need of protection and care? Are they not our “sisters” in Christ?

Paul’s encouragement in 1 Corinthians 16:13 suddenly seems much more applicable: “Be watchful. Stand firm in the faith. Act like men. Be strong.”

Drew Ham is the Director of Discipleship & Spiritual Formation at Southeastern. The husband of Shelly, and father of four little ones, he is completing an EdD and writing his dissertation on the topic of biblical manhood and sexuality.

Hiroo’s Dilemma and the Problem of Belief

“On March 9, 1974, Japanese Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda walked out of the jungle of on a remote island in the Philippines, finally convinced that World War II was over–29 years after it had ended. Trained as an intelligence officer in guerrilla warfare, he was told to survive at all cost. No matter what happened, his superiors would come for him.


Just a few months after his arrival in 1944, the allies overwhelmed Japanese defenses, and Hiroo’s band of five hid deep in the jungle, surviving on what they could find. When the war ended many attempts were made to find and convince the remaining soldiers to come out. Newspapers and even letters from relatives were left, which they found, along with the leaflets. But how could the war have ended so quickly? And why were there spelling errors in the leaflets? Hiroo’s own brother even came and attempted to speak to him over a loudspeaker. The band considered each piece of evidence, and always concluded that the enemy was trying to deceive them. One by one they died, the last one after 27 years in hiding, leaving Hiroo alone.


Finally, a Japanese student tracked Hiroo down and befriended him. He could not surrender, Hiroo explained, until his commanding officer ordered him to do so. The student returned to Japan, and the government found his commander, now a bookseller, who returned in his tattered uniform and personally gave the order. Hiroo, still in his uniform, with sword on his side and his working rifle in his hand, was relieved of duty, and wept. Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos pardoned him for the approximately 30 people he had killed over the years, because the soldier had believed he was still at war. Hiroo returned to a world vastly changed, realizing that his beliefs had been completely wrong for nearly 30 years.”

In his book Mapping Apologetics, Brian Morley opens with the above illustration.Mapping apologetics Hiroo, Morley explains, illustrates the problem of belief. What should be accepted as evidence? How should one weigh assumptions? When it comes to whether or not to have faith in God, Christ, and the Bible “[t]here could not be a more important question than how we are to decide what to believe.” Morley covers apologetics approaches ranging from Fideism to Rationalism, in between examining basic approaches such as Presuppositionaliam and Evidentialism. I highly recommend his book.

Morley concludes that evidence does play a role in a biblical faith, “[but] it seems that we do not need 100-percent proof in order to have 100-percent faith” (353). The Bible teaches that all creation testifies to the existence and nature of God (Rom. 1:20). Due to human fallenness, this witness is suppressed, distorted, or ignored. This does not mean that the human mind is incapable of grasping truth. Offering arguments for the Christian faith is an entirely legitimate approach because the Holy Spirit works through believers when they make the case for faith (364). The persistent presentation of the truth can eventually win the day. Even Hiroo came to see the light.