By Melissa McLaughlin
One of the great pleasures of summertime is enjoying fruits and vegetables fresh from the garden. The deep red tomatoes, crunchy sweet cucumbers, lush green squash and overflowing beans. The list goes on and on and on. All year we wait for one bite of this sumptuous and long-awaited delicacy.
As I look out over our tiny backyard harvest, I can only imagine the beauty and bounty of the plants that once grew in the Garden of Eden at the beginning of time. Join me in a mental vision of that glorious Garden of all Gardens. Tall trees robed in verdant green. Vibrant flowers in every shade and hue. Fruits plump and juicy. Plants and vegetables radiant with the life of God’s breath and touch.
How beautiful it must have been. How rich with flavor and nutrients. How delightful and lustrous this Garden, bringing life-sustaining joy.
I invite you to walk with me in a scripture remembrance of God’s first Garden…
The Garden of Eden
Genesis 1:1 – In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
Genesis 1:11-12 – And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
Genesis 1:26-27 – Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:28-31 – And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
Genesis 2:8-19 – And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. 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 tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers.
Genesis 2:15 – The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.
I imagine the gentle breeze, floral scents wafting upward, an offering of incense to bless the Creator and His creation. Tender flower petals gracing the pathways. Trees bending low with fruits of every kind. Sunshine warming the fertile earth, with vines and vegetables reaching up, tendrils strong and plenteous. Blooming, blossoming and bursting with new life.
God sang His blessing over Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, “Be fruitful and multiply!”
How quickly this scene of serenity and vitality came crashing down.
All too soon, Adam and Eve rebelled against the simple boundaries God set in place within the Garden’s bounty. At the cunning deception of the serpent, both Eve and then Adam chose to eat of the one tree from which God had limited them. Despite all the other fruits, despite all the other blessings, they opted to defy God’s one and only directive.
The result of this disobedience was shame, guilt and separation from God. From that moment, sin and rebellion against our Creator defined the very nature of all humanity.
Remarkably, God’s heart for His creation was not restrained or deterred by our rebellion.
The Garden of Gethsemane
In a stunning move, God sent His own beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to hang on a tree, paying the penalty for all of humanity’s sin.
We see the beautiful, glowing Garden of Eden in stark contrast against the sorrow and agony witnessed in the Garden of Gethsemane.
In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve essentially told God the Father, “not Your will but OURS be done.”
That blood-stained tree hangs in the balance. On one side we see the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the fruit through which all of humanity succumbed to sin. On the other stands the tree of life, the fruit of which brings eternal life.
Perhaps it was no accident that Mary Magdalene mistook the resurrected Jesus for a gardener when she discovered His empty grave that joyous day Jesus rose up from the dead. (John 20:15)
The Master Gardener paid with His own blood, that the people of His own making could walk with Him once again in the Garden. Just as He intended from the beginning. (Genesis 3:8)
By faith in Christ’s sacrifice for our sins, we are granted the right to eat of the Tree of Life. Not because of our goodness, but because of our faith in His goodness, we are saved from the judgment we rightfully deserve.
God’s Eternal Garden in Heaven
God’s gripping plan of redemption goes from the paradise and perfection that was marred by our sin in the Garden of Eden, to the surrender of our Savior in the Garden of Gethsemane. Incredibly, God’s plan of redemption is brought to completion as believers enter the glorious Garden in the heavenly city described in Revelation.
Revelation 22:1-5 – Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.
I am utterly undone that the God who created life, every tree, leaf, flower, blade of grass and human being, is the God who laid down His life for our sin. He is the same God who is coming again. And He will do more than simply re-plant or re-seed our earth but will actually restore, recreate and make brand new all that was lost. May we abide in Christ, the True Vine, bearing the Fruit of the Spirit until we walk once again with our Father God in the Garden. That golden eternal Garden He prepared for us from before all time. God’s eternal Garden in heaven.