Garden to Garden: Eden to Heaven
Genesis 3 and Revelation 22
A beautiful place, a perfect paradise! The heavens and the earth all created by God’s word alone. All the living creatures that crawl on the ground, that swim in the waters, and that fly in the air, created by His word. Man created with loving hands and His breath to give us life. Created in His own image He made them, male and female. And it was good! Not just good it was perfect.
God placed man, the crown of His creation, in a beautiful garden called Eden. It had to be beautiful because it was perfect. There was no need to labor and till the ground because it produced all that man needed in abundance. There was no need to worry about the weather because the world was perfect and everything work according to God’s design. There was no need to worry about anything because everything was exactly the way God intended for it to be.
But without a doubt the best reality of all was the relationship God had with our first parents Adam and Eve. God and humanity were united together in perfect unity. It was an amazing relationship. God walked hand in hand, talked face to face, lived in perfect communion with His creatures. A beautiful, perfect place with God and man united in a beautiful and perfect relationship. The unimaginably beautiful Garden of Eden, the place where God and all of humanity lived together in perfect harmony …. That’s how it was in the beginning.
But Adam and Eve wanted more than to know God, they wanted to be like God. The old, evil foe had tempted Adam and Eve to question their relationship with their Creator by casting doubt on His integrity. Satan was able to convince them that God was keeping something from them, holding back the ability to be like Him. They believed satan and disobeyed the one command God had given them and ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and they tasted death.
The amazing relationship they had with God was severed—a divide a wall built of sin if you will, now separated them. Adam and Eve sinned and were driven out from the Garden of Eden and their return was forbidden by the flaming sword of the cherubim. They were exiled from a perfect place of light and beauty and thrown into the darkness and their return was forbidden, their access to the tree of life was cut off.
Created in God’s image as the crown of His creation with His own hands from the dust of the ground to live eternally were now sentenced to be returned to the dust from which they came in shame and disgrace. We were created to live forever in the presence of God but because of the disobedience of our first parents we are living in exile in a land of darkness and death far from the face of God with its light and grace. How tragic for Adam and Eve. How tragic for you and me!
Exiled like Adam and Eve from the beautiful Garden; exiled from standing in the presence and before the face of God and driven out into the darkness of a broken and sin-filled world with broken and sin-filled hearts. Sin drives man from God and sin exiles us from the courts of heaven.
To be sure, if we become perfectly obedient to God’s Word, if we resist all temptation to sin and walk in absolute purity, if we are found to be righteous in God’s sight by the works of our hands, then and only then—would we be able to return to the Garden. Its gates would be thrown open, and we would be received with great rejoicing. Once again the Garden would be our dwelling place and God would be our constant companion and we would walk together once more in the cool of the day and all we have to do is be perfect.
But the truth we live with is that we are not perfect and our sin is ever before us. And that means we simply cannot return from this exile by our own reason or strength. We cannot enter into the presence of God by the works of our hands. We are helpless and hopeless, wandering in the darkness. We hang our heads unable to look our Creator in the face, unable to come into His glory, unable to look Him in the eye.
And no matter how much we may want to we simply cannot return on our own. The journey is too difficult, too demanding, it’s just too much for a sinner. We need help, no we need more than help, we need to be saved which means we need a Savior. We need One who will bring us back into the presence of our God. One who will carry us back to the Garden.
A Redeemer, a Messiah, the Christ—that’s what God promised Adam and Eve as they were driven from Eden. God told them that the darkness would be overcome by the One who would do battle with the evil serpent. He told them the Seed of the woman would crush the head of satan even as He suffered the pains of the flesh that lead to His death.
The Promised One would overcome the temptations of sin and would fight the ultimate battle on a cross. The burden He would carry to the cross would be our sin. The sacrifice He would offer would be His blood and it would be offered for all because of the love and mercy of our God.
On Good Friday Jesus did suffer what we deserve. He did carry what we could not bear. And with His resurrection He accomplished in our place a return from the exile of sin and death. The blood of Jesus has made us clean. And because of that Jesus declares: Today you will be with Me in paradise.
And so, it has come to pass. We have been redeemed and restored by our Savior, Jesus Christ. He has fought the good fight in our place and overcome all that kept us from the Garden. From paradise lost to paradise restored, the gates of heaven stand open before you and all who believe.
To be sure, the day will come when we walk through those gates and see the Lamb on His throne. There in the garden of gardens we will see the waters of life flowing around the tree of life. Then we shall bask in the Light that is Christ and live in the fullness of His presence forever.
In His Name, Amen.