Embracing Grace: The Garden in Eden

A 365 Day Devotional Journal

Day 19

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 15:42-46; Genesis 2:8-10, 15

Tree of Life, c. 1892, by Currier and Ives. Photo Courtesy Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division (reproduction number, LC-USZC2-3456)

Paul wrote on a variety of topics in his first letter to the Corinthians. One that particularly intrigues me is found in chapter 15. He refers here to Adam, the “first Adam”, as a living being and to Jesus, the “last Adam,” as the life giving spirit. Then he states this spiritual principle: “But it is not the spiritual life which came first, but the physical and then the spiritual.”1

Being the inquisitive person that I am, I have to ask if this statement applies to everything written in the Bible. If it does, then we have depths we can mine of which little has been written or spoken on, if we dig deep enough, right?

I think so.

Take for instance a look at the story of creation as recounted in Genesis chapter 2:

The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers.

…Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.2

We usually think of Eden as being the garden, but scripture says the garden was in Eden, not that it was Eden, and that the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil grew in the garden.

Of Eden, the Online Etymology Dictionary, refers to it as being a

“delightful place,” fig. use of the place described in Genesis, usually referred to Heb. edhen  “pleasure, delight,” but perhaps from Ugaritic base ‘dn  and meaning “a place that is well-watered throughout.”3

A garden, however, is referred to in the same online reference as an enclosure, or enclosed garden.4 Put these two together and we have the idea that God planted an enclosed garden (see Genesis 3:23-23) inside the land He called Eden, which was a delightful place, well-watered throughout.

Throughout scripture, the man whose delight is in the law of the Lord, or who walks in the fear of the Lord, is referred to similarly. Psalm 1 calls him a tree firmly planted by streams of water. Jeremiah 31 says his life will be like a (well) watered garden. Isaiah 58 states that he will be like a watered garden or spring whose waters do not fail.

Of Himself, God says in Jeremiah 2 that He is a fountain of living waters. Zechariah 14 states that living waters will flow year round out of the New Jerusalem. John 4 quotes Jesus saying “but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become a well of water springing up to eternal life.”5 Revelation 22 says the water of life comes from the throne of God and the Lamb.

Of the Tree of Life, scripture compares it to Wisdom which was with the Lord when he created the earth (Proverbs 3:18-19), and that this fruit (wisdom) is a tree of life for the righteous who wins souls. Two human characteristics, desire fulfilled and a soothing tongue, are compared to a tree of life in Proverbs 13:12 and Proverbs 15:4. And in Revelation 2, God states that He will give to the one who overcomes access to “eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.”6

Okay, so the obvious comparison I see is that the Garden in Eden is compared to the new Heaven in Revelation. Both have the Tree of Life and both have living waters. Both are referred to as paradise (a delightful place.) God was or is in both places.

I see something more.

The Garden in Eden, into which Adam was placed by God to cultivate, may be likened to our body of flesh. Think about it. As New Testament believers, Jesus gave us living waters, a well springing up from within us. The Garden was a place where God walked with Adam. Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit.

Again referring to the Online Etymology Dictionary, a temple in the figurative sense is “any place regarded as occupied by divine presence.”7 In this sense, both the Garden in Eden and our human bodies are temples of God.

God placed Adam in the Garden to cultivate, or improve, the growth of it8. He placed living waters in it and the Tree of Life. He spent time daily in the Garden with Adam.

The Holy Spirit was sent to us to live in our bodies. God is both a wellspring of living waters and the source of the tree of life. The difference here is a matter of degree: rather than daily visiting, God dwells 24/7 within the believer.

If God told Adam to cultivate the Garden in Eden, which he visited daily, how much more important is it for us to cultivate (improve the growth of) our bodies as living temples (places occupied by God’s Divine Presence) of the Holy Spirit?

I’ve heard it said to young adults regarding purity to consider everything they do with their respective dates as though the parents were watching.

Our Abba God does not just see what we do. He sees every thought that passes across our minds, but it is the thoughts we dwell on (abide with) that He will judge, for they are the ones that determine how we cultivate our garden.

Read: 1 Corinthians 15:42-46; Genesis 2:8-10, 15. Journal your private thoughts.

Father God, thank you for redeeming me and living within this human temple. I give you permission to invade my life. Help me to honor Your presence by how I cultivate this garden: physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally. In Jesus’ name, amen.  

_____________________

11 Corinthians 15:45.
2 Genesis 2:8-10, 15. Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright ©1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.lockman.org
3 “Eden.” Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. 23 Feb. 2011. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Eden>.
 4 “garden.” Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. 23 Feb. 2011. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/garden>.
 5John 4:14. Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright ©1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.lockman.org
 6Revelation 2:7b. Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright ©1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.lockman.org
 7”temple.” Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. 23 Feb. 2011. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/temple>.
8“cultivate.” Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 23 Feb. 2011. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/cultivate>.

Copyright © 2011, Érin Elise

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