Now I have read the Bible through more times than I can count. I have read the first three chapters in Genesis probably double that amount. And I have NEVER noticed this before!
God plants a garden in Eden (v8), but did you know that the Garden wasn’t actually Eden. It was the garden of Eden! Let me show you, verse 10 reads: ‘A river watering the garden flowed from Eden’! So Eden is this place, and from it flows a river which waters the Garden of Eden!
My goodness, when I first noticed this, I was so excited! Why? What difference does it make, whether the Garden of Eden was Eden or part of Eden?!
Several reasons. Firstly, it parallels the vision of Ezekiel in Ezekiel 47. Which talks about the temple and how a river flowed out from a temple and wherever the ‘river flows everything will live’ (Ez 47:1 & 9). If Eden is a temple, then we know that God must have been present! Secondly, it explains why God is walking around the garden and visiting it. He dwells in Eden, in the “temple” and goes wandering around in the garden to spend time with Adam and Eve.
Other clues that suggest Eden is a “temple” with a “garden” are the facts that the adjoining rivers lead to lands with gold, onyx and aromatic resin (all materials relating to the temple). We also read that God tells Adam to ‘work’ and ‘keep’ the garden, in Hebrew, these words are Abad and Shamar. Words used to describe duties of priests in the Temple.
So why am I getting all excited about this? Aside from the fact that I’ve learnt something new, and now my picture of Eden is very different! What actual difference does it make to my faith?
1) I am reminded that we have a hands on God. We know this from the way in which He creates mankind, with His hands, breathing breath into our nostrils. His hands touching Adam’s body removing a rib and creating Eve. Moving us into the garden, preparing a pleasant place for us. God wants to draw us close to Him. This is significant when you consider the multitude of other religions popular at the time, who believed in distant gods that didn’t want to “get their hands dirty”. Our God delights to dwell in us, to tabernacle with us, to be the ‘Immanuel’ – God with us.
See Jesus walking our streets, talking our languages, touching the sick, holding His disciples.
2) We have a God who delights to be Present.
3) We have a God who reveals Himself to us. This chapter of Genesis see’s the introduction of God’s name: The LORD God. Before we’d only encountered God – Elohim, now we meet God as He reveals Himself to us. Imagine the alternative, God could have easily created us and moved on to another universe/project leaving us behind!
4) The fact that Christians are called a Kingdom of Priests, really does mean that what Jesus has done, has reversed the affects of Sin. We are restored to our full-humanity, under ‘Second Adam’.
5) Finally, and most importantly, we have a choice. In the moments of temptation, we can run to Paradise, run into the river and experience fullness of life. Or we can plough on into regret, sin, shame and defeat. The good news that God’s presence is near, means that we don’t have to choose sin, we can simply swim in the river of life. The river that flows from His temple, from His presence and experience life!
Adam and Eve forgot that God’s “temple” was adjacent to their garden. They forgot His presence was there, they forgot the life He offered, the freedom they knew, the goodness of it all. And they exchanged it all for sin. Did they forget, or did they choose to ignore? Either way, we don’t have to make the same fatal mistake.
Just as with Adam and Eve, if we have accepted Jesus, the Bible says His presence dwells in us! He ‘tabernacles’ in US! Such good news. Let us choose His presence, in the face of temptation. It is only “round the corner”.