Saturday, April 19, 2014

Eden: The Original Plan

In many ways the garden of Eden is distinct.

Eden, the word itself, means “delight” or “pleasure”. Interestingly, it also can mean “delicate”, and as it turns out, Eden certainly was that. If we look at Genesis 1, we will see there on seven occasions, as God creates, he says, “It’s good”. Six times over, he says simply “It’s good, it’s good, it’s good, it’s good, it’s good, it’s good,” and finally he sums up all by saying “It’s very good”.

So when I say Eden was a delight and a pleasure to God, it’s not purely because the name in the original language means “delight” or “pleasure”; it’s because God himself repeatedly said, “I really like this”, “I really like what I’m making” — the completed work, which included mankind, Adam and Eve. God Himself pronounces it “very good” indeed. More than simply a name, the garden of Eden was truly the delight of God.

It was also experienced as a delight by the first and only human couple to experience the garden of Eden.

Adam and Eve enjoyed the garden immensely. We’ll understand that from the story and the events that will unfold both inside, and later outside, the garden  itself. It's not surprising that the garden was a source of joy for mankind. But Eden is a place we can’t even really identify with. We look at Eden through sin-fogged eyeglasses, if you will. Eden was, for all-too-brief a moment — we’re not even sure how long, really — a place where there was no sin and no consequence of sin. God was not making allowances to cover the failure of man in Eden. He was completely free to do exactly what he wanted and man was completely free to enjoy what God had given.

That is a unique situation. It has not been repeated since in as full a way. Every moment from Adam and Eve’s fall forward has been corrupted and confounded and compromised by sin.

So while we can’t fully appreciate just what Eden was like, we understand it was very good. It's worth noting that in Eden — in a way we cannot see now — we see a very clear and sharp view of God’s heart and God’s character.

I was speaking recently with some other believers about the certificate of divorce permissible under Old Testament law. The people were taught in Matthew 19 that divorce had been permitted only “because of the hardness of your heart”. It was, if you will, a concession from God. The reality of sin had so afflicted God’s people that he almost — dare I say it — regretfully said, “Moses, tell them they can do this. It’s not my best. It’s not my desire. It’s not my will. But sin has so choked this generation that they can’t even see my best purposes for them or what my desire is anymore — let them have divorce”.

Well, Eden is not like that. It’s not clouded with compromise. Divorce formally arrived with Moses and the people of God seemed to think that divorce was okay with God in Christ’s day; it had been so allowed and so enshrined in their lives for many generations that they misunderstood divorce to be something of which God approved. But it was never God's desire; it was merely a concession to sinful man.

Eden, though, is a place where we get a perfectly clear view of God’s heart and character and no concessions were necessary. So if you want to look at God’s character, one of the best places (not the best, I grant you) is the garden before sin arrived on the scene. I want to look at that, rather than the particular events, because I think you probably know the events very well.

And you suffer the consequences of the events as well.

Next Up: Five Characteristics of Life in Eden

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