(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
More than 25 years ago, I performed a wedding for my daughter Ann and her betrothed Dan in The Soldiers Memorial Chapel at Fort Carson, Colorado Springs, Colorado. Both were in the army, and I received special permission to officiate their ceremony in the chapel. My wife Hope and I were in Colorado Springs for several days, and we took the opportunity to tour the area. One of the most impressive sites we explored was The Garden of The Gods! The red sandstone features of this national park are amazing, set in a panorama with snow-capped Pike’s Peak in the background! Above is pictured the famous formation known as The Three Graces.
But I don’t want to focus on The Garden of The Gods, but on The Four Gardens of God, as presented in the Bible: the garden of Eden, the garden of Gethsemane, the garden of the tomb, and the garden of paradise!
We will start with the garden of Eden, as mentioned in Genesis 2:7 through 9:
And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there he put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
It was in that garden of Eden that much of earth’s life began. Here is the Biblical description of the beginning of creature life:
- Genesis 2:19 – “Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name.” By the way, the Hebrew rendering of this verse implies that Adam named the creatures scientifically, just by observing their characteristics (according to kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genera, and species – Taxonomic Ranks of Life).
- Genesis 2:20 – “But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.”
✡ God had before said in Genesis 2:18, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” ✡ But why did He then bring all the animals and birds to Adam to be named? Why didn’t the LORD just create Eve before the naming of the animals? ✡ God wanted Adam to realize his need for someone like himself to be his helper/partner/mate!
- Genesis 2:21 through 23:
And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” ✡ Adam’s exclamation upon seeing Eve for the first time – “...bone of my bones... flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man...,” can be loosely translated by the English word, “WOW!”
Genesis 2:25 – “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”
- There was no need for clothes in the LORD’s perfect environment.
- The man and his wife were perfectly comfortable with one another….and with God!
✡ This is implied in Genesis 3:8 when “...they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day.” The implication is that this was a regular daily occurrence – human beings interacting with their Creator!!
I would like to ‘camp out’ for a moment on two words that appear together for the first time in Genesis 2:4, and often (twenty times) in this chapter and the next: “…LORD God….”
- “LORD” – The Hebrew word is יְהֹוָה (pronounced yeh-ho-vaw’ – from which we get the name “Jehovah”). According to Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary it means, “(the) self-Existent or eternal; Jehovah, Jewish national name of God.” Brown, Driver, Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions says this: “the existing One”… “unpronounced by Orthodox Jews except with the vowel points of אדני (pronounced ad-o-noy’) meaning “the Lord (used as a proper name of God).”
- “God” – The Hebrew word is אֱלֹהִים (pronounced el-o-heem’). Strong gives the definition as “…gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically (in the plural thus, especially with the article) of the supreme God….”
He is yeh-ho-vah’ – the eternal Being whose existence is in Himself, and who gives existence to all things!
- As it is said of Jesus in Colossians 1:16 and 17, who is the Word of God (see Revelation 19:13): “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on the earth, visible and invisible….All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.”
- When Moses encountered God in the burning bush on Mount Sinai (see Exodus 3:1-6), God introduced Himself by using the word out of which came His self-existent name yeh-ho-vah’. That word is הָיָה, (pronounced haw-yah’) and meaning, according to Strong, “…to exist, that is, be or become, come to pass….” God gave Moses the interpretation of His name, “I AM WHO I AM….I AM….This is My name forever….” (Exodus 3:14, 15). This is a good Biblical meaning of yeh-ho-vah’ also.
✡ He is always in the ‘now’! The past, present, and future are ever present before Him! ✡ He is constant, and He gives constancy to all things! And His constancy is centered in the redemption of mankind – even before man fell into sin! For it says in Revelation 13:8 that Jesus Christ, who is “...the Lamb [, was] slain from the foundation of the world.” ✡ God is always the same; He never changes! (see Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8). So He is totally dependable in His plan and promises!
He is el-o-heem’ – This is the first name by which we are introduced to God in the very first verse of the Bible! “In the beginning God [el-o-heem’] created the heaven and the earth.”
- It is interesting that this is a plural noun in form but singular in meaning. Hence, it points to the one God who is Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!
- El-o-heem gives forth the idea “…of strength or power of effect. Elohim is the infinite, all-powerful God who shows by His works that He is the creator, sustainer, and supreme judge of the world.” (www.gotquestions.org/meaning-of-Elohim.html).
So if God has declared that His mission is to redeem all creation unto Himself (see Romans 8:19-23; II Corinthians 5:19; Colossians 1:20), He is able to accomplish whatever He has decreed!
Back to the Garden of Eden:
- It was a place of perfection!
- It was created to be a perfect environment for humankind – God’s highest creation!
- It was a place of testing mankind’s free will to choose!
- It was a place where sin in human beings was first manifested (which was then passed on to all humanity – see Romans 8:12).
We will have to stop here. In the next Gem we will explore the nature of sin, how it is manifested, and what are its results!