Saturday, January 03, 2015

Eden and Variety

Has to be squash in here somewhere ...
We’ve been considering Eden and the lessons we learn there about who God is and how He chooses to relate to His creation. Before the Fall we have a unique view of God that is unfettered by sin and the concessions sin has made necessary. Eden shows us God moving in His creation in the way He wishes, without constraint. As such it is one of the best places to see God’s character.

We began by noting that God desires to bless His creatures. In fact, He delights to bless and it is His first and favourite work. For mankind, being blessed is also a delight. Working and being given work to do was a delight. Fellowship was a delight. The name “Eden” literally means “delight” and so it was — a delight to both God and mankind.

Something else that we pause to note about Eden; there was an astounding variety.

Genesis 2:9 says, “And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.”  

The Range of Possibilities

On the subject of variety we might take as a second example the range of animal life that God produced and — despite countless extinctions over the years — we still see immense variation on display around us in 2015. 

But staying with the limits of verse 9, please note that we’re not told that God caused “a few” plants to grow, or “some” or even “enough”. Instead we are to understand that whatever can be brought to mind that is enticing to the eye or the palate — well, God planted it for mankind’s benefit.

The world’s message is that God is a God of single notes and monotony. That the Christian life will be terribly dull and limiting. This is a horrible taint on the true character of a God who claims to offer “abundant” life. God is not now nor was He ever a monotonous God. He didn’t say, “Listen Adam, you need a certain amount of calories to sustain you on any given day. So I’m going to make 1,000 tofu trees so that tofu is always within reach and easily accessible. Sure, it’s bland and the texture is disturbing, but it’ll sustain you and provide you the energy you need to remain vertical”.

Instead, God wanted to bless Adam and Eve; to give them pleasure in acquiring that which was necessary to sustain their lives. God gave Adam a vast variety of things pleasant to the eye and the palate. In His gracious way He essentially told Adam and Eve this: “Whatever you want to have for dinner on Tuesday, you go ahead and have that for dinner. There’s a whole range for you and whatever you wish to have is fine with me”.

The Christian and the Will of God

So what does this mean to us? I ask this in return: do you easily get caught up in the romantic notion that the will of God is exceedingly narrow? Does the narrowness of God’s will (as you understand it) trouble you with the thought that you might miss something from Him?

I love my wife and increasingly as we age together I see the ways in which she has been suited for me (and I for her) by a gracious God. So I don’t say this to give offence to her or anyone else — but there are a lot of wonderful Christian ladies out there who would be suitable wives. Conversely there are many fine Christian men who would make suitable husbands. We sometimes burden ourselves with a rather romantic idea that there is a single, narrow unique choice in a spouse (or a career, or a latitude or a mission) that we must strive to find. That perhaps there is only one single narrow option that will really be God’s will for us. In most cases, though not perhaps all, we worry unnecessarily, and it simply isn’t true. As He did in Eden, God may well be presenting a vista of good choices, all of which come from His hand and are in accordance with His purposes. If we truly choose from what He provides and suggests in His word, He will be pleased for you to choose that which most suits you.

In many ways, Eden declares that God loves diversity. He’s not at all a God of dull monotony, he’s a God of variety. Because of God’s character as a blesser and a bountiful provider, there was in the garden tremendous latitude for Adam and Eve to choose. It’s worth noting there were myriad ways for them to choose rightly and please God and themselves, while there was only a single way for them to choose badly and sin.

Inverting God’s Design

In our modern world, as with so many things, we have somehow managed to utterly invert God’s original design. Once mankind left the garden behind, it became increasingly hard to find the single right way. There are now myriad ways to go wrong — all sorts of illicit temptations — while there are very few draws to the good. There’s scant peer pressure to live a moral life, and plenty available to live an immoral one.

The garden was the reverse of that. There was a wonderful variety and very few ways you could misstep. There was a vast variety. (I take it as given that abominations like squash and turnip appeared at some point after the Fall.) But in Eden we can clearly see that God is not a God of single notes. He was not then, He is not now.

Always being guided by His principles (but remaining busy for God in any of the many ways He desires, and choosing from God’s hand any of the many people and circumstances He has provided for you) is entirely in keeping with pleasing Him.


  1. Just can't help wanting to be helpful.

    Butternut Squash Turnip Recipes:

  2. Works for me, Q. I love squash.

    The squash hate is all Bernie ...