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The Garden Of Eden is a concept that runs throughout the Bible. Adam and Eve were initially placed in the Garden of Eden and commanded to have dominion over the earth. The Garden of Eden was a beautiful place, but it was also to be a training ground for managing God’s creation. When they mastered it, Adam and Eve were to move out into the rest of the undeveloped world and develop it into an Eden. The world was to be a gorgeous, harmonious place where God and humanity could live and enjoy each other’s company.
Because Eden is ingrained in the heart of men and women, they have always sought a way to return to the paradise that was lost. This is the philosophy behind nudist colonies. They are trying to return to the simplicity of the lost Garden. They mistake nudity as essential to the paradise experience. It is not. This search for Utopia - the perfect society - has led to things like communism and socialism. Man’s attempts to recreate God’s perfection without God always end up in a Hell on earth. Utopia literally means “no place.” Without God, a perfect society is not possible.
efore we look at the five Gardens of Eden, we need to know what makes Eden the perfect place. It is not nudity; it is not nature by itself; it is not even plenty of resources and good company. There are two main items that make up Eden. Without these, paradise cannot exist; with them, any place can be developed into an Eden. As we will see, the hope and desire for Eden is not a return to the past but a reach for the future.
The first and most important thing for any place to be or become an Eden is the presence of God.
The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. John 6:63, NIV
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Cor. 3:17-18, NIV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Gal. 5:22-23, NIV
We could go on and on with many more Scriptures. The bottom line is that God is the Creator and Sustainer of life. We were designed to live in harmony with God. Without God in our lives, we are not fully human. We live below where we were created to be, and the desire for paradise can never be realized, no matter how much money or how many friends we may have.
You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Ps. 16:11, NIV
The presence of God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - is essential to Eden. Without Him, it simply is not possible.
The second essential thing for Eden to exist is obedience to the Law of God. The Law of God is not for God’s benefit! It is the perfect statement of Who He Is without effort and without change. The Law of God is for our benefit. It reveals how to live in and develop an Eden-like world. If the Law of God were followed, there would be no poverty, hunger, crime, injustice, natural disasters, etc. Satan hates God and hates His creation. His every desire is for destruction and chaos. When mankind joined him in his hideous rebellion, mankind also became a destroyer. Every attempt to return to Eden without God and obedience to His Law only ends in more death and destruction.
So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul— then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil. I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied. Deut. 11:13-15, NIV
Now let’s look at the five Gardens of Eden and apply what we have said above.
The first Eden is the Garden of God in His heavenly home. The Bible does not give us many details about this paradise of God, but it is enough to know it exists. God Himself enjoys this Garden walking through it with His angelic creation.
How does this agree with our two essential elements? The presence of God is there - it is His Garden, after all! Since the Law of God expresses His Righteousness and Being, it is perfectly kept. The rebellion of Satan and his angels could have ruined this Garden, but God did not allow that. Instead, Satan was thrust out, leaving the Garden of God in its original purity and beauty.
You were in Eden, the garden of God…So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. Ez. 28:13, 16, NIV
The Garden of Eden [and the world] into which Adam and Eve were placed was modelled after the Garden of God. In fact, God could say - perhaps figuratively - that some of the trees He created on earth were greater than the ones in His garden.
The cedars in the garden of God could not rival it, nor could the junipers equal its boughs, nor could the plane trees compare with its branches—no tree in the garden of God could match its beauty. I made it beautiful with abundant branches, the envy of all the trees of Eden in the garden of God. Ez. 31:8-9. NIV
[I know in context this is talking of the nations of Egypt and Assyria and their downfall. However, the fact that God could make such a comparison shows there must be something to compare it with.]
The Garden of God in the heaveniles is absolute perfection, has the entire manifest presence of God and complete obedience to His Law, and is the model for every other Eden God has or is making. It continues in perfection.
The second Garden of Eden is the one we usually think of. It is where Adam and Eve were created and told to begin their life mission.
Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden, and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters…Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day… Gen. 2:8-10, 3:8, NIV
So how does this Eden compare with our two essentials? We know the presence of God was there. He desired to have an enjoyable relationship with His human creation. Until Eve ate the fruit, there was perfect obedience to the Law of God. It was the perfect place, like the Garden of God.
However, when Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they violated one of the essential elements for maintaining a paradise. As a result of joining Satan’s rebellion, they, like him, were thrust out of the Garden. Here is a big difference. Satan was not given dominion in heaven, so God’s Garden remained perfect when he was thrown out. But Adam and Eve were given dominion over God’s physical creation. When they rebelled, they were driven from the Garden, but because of their position of dominion, everything - including the Garden - became corrupted with sin.
Mankind’s sin ended this Paradise, although the desire to live in the Garden of Eden haunts us still. It is here we see man’s failure to keep the Garden that was given to him by God.
The first Garden of Eden was the paradise of God Himself; the second one was given to Adam and Eve and was intended for all humanity. Our third one was given to the specific people of God identified as the nation of Israel in the Old Testament. It is often referred to as the Promised Land. It has been described as the land flowing with milk and honey - all the good things God created. God was again giving His people a paradise to live in.
When they reached the Valley of Eshkol, they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs…They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. Nu. 13:23, 27, NIV
On that day I swore to them that I would bring them out of Egypt into a land I had searched out for them, a land flowing with milk and honey, the most beautiful of all lands. Ez. 20:6, NIV
How does this measure up to our two essential elements for the Garden of God? The entire land was to be permeated with the presence of God. The sanctuary and temple were to be His throne room, where people gathered at least three times a year to meet with Him and celebrate. The priests and Levites were to teach and minister to the people constantly.
Although some Christians disagree, the Land of Israel was given on condition of obedience to the Law of God. This is plainly stated repeatedly in Scripture, and history confirms it. Obedience meant living in a paradise; disobedience meant the land itself vomiting them out.
Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you. Deut. 6:3, NIV
Keep all my decrees and laws and follow them, so that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out. Lev. 20:22, NIV
When Israel failed, they were thrown out of the land [after many warnings and multiple chances to repent]. In the first Eden, Satan failed and was cast out. In the second Eden, Adam and Eve failed and were cast out. In the third Eden, the nation of Israel failed and was cast out. Yet the human heart’s longing is to live in Eden, and God desires to give it to us.
Another critical point is that in the first two cases, God gave Eden to its recipients. In this third case, the people received a promise but had to work in faith to make it happen. Canaan had to be conquered before becoming the Garden of God and His people. After each failure, it seems harder to have and maintain Eden.
The fourth Garden of God was not created simply by the word of God. It is being created out of the most precious and expensive substance in the universe - the blood of Christ. The fourth Eden is the Kingdom of God which was brought into being at the resurrection of Jesus and develops over time until the return of Jesus.
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval. Rom. 14:17-18, NIV
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matt. 28:18-20, NIV
The New Covenant Israel - people of all nationalities who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour - is currently working with the Holy Spirit to transform the world into a new Eden. It is a progressive operation that will increase in success over time until it reaches its final goal.
How does this meet with our two essential elements of paradise? The only way into the Kingdom of God is to be born again by the Holy Spirit: therefore, everyone in the Kingdom is in a growing relationship with God.
Once again, obedience is a requirement for success. Christians who deny the need for Biblical Law in New Testament times are denying the righteousness and character of God and His method of destroying the destructive consequences of sin while restoring human lives and the world through the work of the Holy Spirit.
“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,”declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. Jer. 31:33-34, NIV
Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 1 Cor. 15:24-27, NIV
The end comes when the Holy Spirit has fully implemented the victory of Christ in this world through His people. Only Postmillennialists have confidence in the triumph and success of the Holy Spirit in establishing this new Eden before the return of Christ. All others see the Holy Spirit failing as those who have gone before Him have failed.
The first Eden showed the failure of the angelic realm, the second was the failure of individual humanity, and the third was the failure of collective humanity. But the fourth Eden will show the success of the Holy Spirit working through the redeemed people of God to not only transform human lives but to redeem and develop every aspect of God’s creation into the Eden He desires it to be. The Holy Spirit succeeds where humanity has failed.
The fifth Garden of Eden is the completed New Heavens and New Earth.
And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man…For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 1 Cor. 15:49, 53, NIV
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Col. 1:19-20, NIV
For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. Rom. 8: 19-21, NIV
The ultimate and final Eden will be whatever wonders God has planned for His people after the return of Jesus. It will be spectacular. When we accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour, we are born into this new realm, but we see things like in a fog. When Jesus returns, the Final State will be here. It will be a more significant change from that of the baby in the womb to the world we now live in. It will be a wonderful world [universe] of joy, peace, perfection and challenge as we engage in whatever mission God has for us then.
We came from Eden. It is our birthplace and the desire of our hearts. But we do not return to the old Eden. We go on to the new and continually improving Eden of eternity. This will not be your reality if you have never accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Your destiny will be the opposite of Eden, an endless, dark, painful monotony in a blistering desert. The choice is yours now. After death, it will be too late. Choose life. Commit yourself to Jesus today if you haven’t already.
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