In the creation account of Genesis 1-2, most English translations make it seem like Adam was put in the Garden for gardening purposes, since Genesis 2:15 says, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” However, there may be something more beneath the terms translated “work” and “keep.”
The first verb is avid, which is “used frequently for spiritual service, specifically serving the LORD (Deut. 4:19) and for the duties of the Levites (see Num. 3:7-8; 4:23-24, 26).”1
The second verb is shamar, whose “religious use is that of observing spiritual duties or keeping the commands (Lev. 18:5).”2
This understanding of these terms seems to fit more in a world that did not yet need gardening since there was no curse. Adam was not put in the garden to care for the garden; he was put their to worship and obey God. Ross concurs:
“In places where these two verbs are found together, they often refer to the duties of the Levites (cf. Num. 3:7-8; 8:26; 18;5-6), keeping the laws of God (especially in the sanctuary service) and offering spiritual service in the form of the sacrifices and all the related duties—serving the LORD, safeguarding his commands, and guarding the sanctuary from the intrusion of anything profane or evil.”3
Put very simply, man’s purpose is to worship and obey, which is of course reflected in many passages of Scripture, not the least of which is Isaiah 43:7:
everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.