Garden  of  Eden


We are all familiar with the Genesis story about the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve first dwelt.  There are some spiritual teachings and insights concerning our relationship with God that can be drawn from this biblical place. 


On the Sixth Day God created the first man and woman “in His own image” (Gen. 1:27).  He then placed them in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:8).


The First Sabbath on Earth


Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished.  And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” (Gen. 2:1-3) 


Adam and Eve observed and enjoyed the first Seventh Day Sabbath in the Garden of Eden.  This place represents the Kingdom of God on earth where His people can have both physical and spiritual rest, receive blessings, fellowship and worship God in the beauty of holiness.  The Lord Jesus Christ said the Sabbath was made for man, and He is the Lord of the Sabbath (Mk. 2:27-8).


Symbolism of God’s Church


On the third day of Creation God had already given the earth “grass, herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit  (Gen. 1:11-13). This could be a description of primeval jungles and forests, but God gave something special for man.  “The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man who He had formed.” (Gen. 2:8)  The Garden of Eden is a well-planned, designed and cultivated piece of ground that has beautiful flowers, vegetables, shrubs and trees.  It is symbolical of God’s church which has an ideal environment to live.


Perfect Environment for Living


In the Garden of Eden there was no rain, “but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground.” (Gen. 2:4-6).  The mist is a water vapor in the atmosphere that shields and protects the earth from the ultra-violet rays of the sun.  The atmospheric condition of the earth at that time was high humidity but it was neither hot nor cold.  That kind of environment makes it possible for people to live much longer than what they do today.


“And God said, ‘See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.  Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food; and it was so.” (Gen. 1:29-30)


In the Garden of Eden before Adam and Eve committed sin there was no death, even amongst the animals and the birds.  They need not kill one another for food and survival because their diet was vegetarian.  One of the reasons why our early ancestors lived for hundreds of years is because of their vegetarian diet. 


“Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it.” (Gen. 2:15)


Adam was a gardener and a farmer who was given the pleasant task of taking care of the Garden of Eden.  This work not only provided food and a beautiful garden but also gave him plenty of exercise to keep his body healthy.


First Commandment of God


“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat for in the day that you eat of it you shall sure die.” (Gen. 2:16-17)


This is the first commandment that God gave to man and it concerns what not to eat.  For the Garden of Eden to be like heaven on earth the first man and woman must be absolutely obedient to every word of God.  Sin is the result of disobedience to God’s Commandments (1 Jn. 3:4).  The observance of God’s Commandments is essential to eternal life (Mt. 19:16-19).  “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates of the city.” (Rev. 22:14).  After Adam and Eve had committed the original sin they were driven out of the Garden of Eden.  “So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the Garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.” (Gen. 4:24)


Eden” means Enjoyment


The word Edenin Hebrew means delight or enjoyment.  God’s church is a place of enjoyment where God has fellowship; and communication with His people in the Spirit.  “For the Kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Rom. 14:17)  The Lord Jesus Christ spoke to His disciples, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.(Jn. 15:11)


Spiritual Cultivation precedes Spiritual Enjoyment


“The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden.”  In this context the Hebrew word for east – qedem means “in front of”.  In other words, if you were going towards Eden the first thing that you see would be the Garden of Eden.  There is another Hebrew word for east.  Misrahis used to mean “the place of the sunrise” but this word is not used to describe the direction of the Garden of Eden.  The significance and spiritual symbolism of the Garden (cultivated ground) "in front of" Eden (enjoyment) is that we must first have spiritual cultivation before we can have spiritual enjoyment.


God places us in His Church


“And there He put the man who He had formed.”  Adam did not search or look around, and then suddenly discovered the Garden of Eden by himself. God placed him there.  Unless God places us in His church we cannot be in it.  Our Lord Jesus Christ said,


“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” (Jn. 15:16) 


“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law.” (Gal. 5:22)


The “Tree of Life” represents the Cross


“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.” (Gen. 2:9)


Trees are important for man’s existence on this earth.  The fruits provide food, the leaves provide fresh air (by photo-synthesis) and the wood is used for home-building and other useful things.  There are two trees in the Garden of Eden that are set apart for God’s purpose.  The “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” was used by God as an instrument to test the obedience of Adam and Eve (Gen. 2:9,17).  The “Tree of Life” enables a person who eats of its fruit to live forever (Gen. 3:22). 


What is the significance and symbolism of the “Tree of Life”?  The Lord Jesus Christ gives us this promise, He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.  To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the Tree of Life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” (Rev. 2:7)  Paradise is the place where the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ went after He died on the Cross. (Lk. 23:42-43)  Paradise is in the “Third Heaven” (2 Cor. 12:1-4). 


The ““Tree of Life” represents the Cross on which the Lord Jesus Christ died to save mankind.  The Early Christian writers often refer the Cross as a tree.


“The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree.” (Acts 5:30)


“And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree.” (Acts 10:39)


“Now when they had fulfilled all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb.” (Acts 13:29)


The Holy Bible states that Jesus “Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness – by whose stripes you were healed.” (1 Pet. 2:24).  “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”. (Gal. 3:13)


Jesus Christ has destroyed Satan at the Cross


After Adam and Eve had sinned against God and received the death penalty God promised them the Savior would come from the seed of the woman.  God spoke to the cursed serpent, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” (Gen. 3:15)  Here is a prophecy and a promise.  The “seed of the woman” Jesus Christ would vanquish the devil on the Cross. 


The crucifixion required the nailing of the hands and the feet to the cross.  In 1968 building contractors working in a suburb north of Jerusalem accidentally uncovered a Jewish tomb dated to the first century after the death of Christ. They found the skeletal remains of a young man who had been crucified. The evidence for this was based on the right calcaneum (heel bone) of the individual, pierced by an iron nail 11.5 cms. (4.5 inches) in length. 


The serpent’s head when it is bruised is irreversibly fatal.  If a man steps on a snake’s head, it will be irreversibly crushed—thus the imagery points to the serpent’s wound as being fatal. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself said that He had come to destroy the works of the devil (Jn. 12:31; 16:11, cf. Heb. 2:14; 1 Jn. 3:8). When Jesus died on the cross, He provided and made available salvation for all mankind (Jn. 3:16). He broke the power Satan had exercised over all humanity, and now provides victory over sin and the devil. Because of Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection, He inflicted a fatal blow to the devil’s domination over man (Acts 10:38; 26:15-18; Eph. 4:8; Col. 2:15; Js. 4:7). In the future, at Jesus’ Second Coming, He will permanently defeat the devil by removing him from the earth and casting him into hell forever (Rom. 16:20; Rev. 20:10).


Atonement for sin in the Garden


What is so amazing about God’s revelation is that He had this plan of salvation right from the very beginning in the Garden of Eden.  After Adam and Eve had committed sin “then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.” (Gen. 3:7)  As fig leaves cannot fully cover their shame and neither are the garments permanent "the LORD (YAHWEH) God made garments of skin, and clothed them." (Gen. 3:21)  The garments of skin came from a slain animal through the shedding of its blood.   This is to let them know what it meant to die because of sin.  Just as the first sacrifice was offered by the hand of the Almighty God to make atonement for the sins of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, so is “the Church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” (Acts 20:28) 



The River of God gives Life and Joy to the Whole World


“Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads.” (Gen. 2:10)


With the exception of the fourth river Euphratesthe other three rivers named here are geographically unidentifiable (Gen. 2:10-14). The number “four” is used often in Scriptures to signify things in the heaven and the earth like “the four winds from the four quarters of heaven” (Jer. 49:36; Mt. 4:31; ref. Acts 10:11; 11:5), “four winds of heaven” (Dan. 7:2; 11:4), “four winds” (Ezk. 37:9), “four winds of the earth” (Rev. 7:1), “the four corners of the earth” (Isa. 11:12; Rev. 20:8).


“Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden.” This river can only refer to the “River of God”. “And from there it parted and became four riverheads” means the River of God will benefit the whole world.


“There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, The Holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.” (Psm. 46:4-5)


The river from Eden points to two important events in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ. One is His baptism in the River Jordan to fulfill all righteousness (Mt. 3:13-17). The second is His giving the “rivers of living water” which is the Holy Spirit. (Jn. 7:38) Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.” (Jn. 3:5). Jesus taught His disciples this refers to the baptism of water and baptism of the Holy Spirit which are the two essential requirements of salvation in the Kingdom of God (Acts 2:38-39; 10:44-48; 19:1-7; Tit. 3:4-5). Baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ washes away sin and baptism of the Holy Spirit sanctifies the Christian. (Acts 22:16; 1 Cor. 6:11)


The Lord Jesus Christ said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.  He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’  But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” (Jn. 7:37-39)   Eden is the Paradise of God or Third Heaven, and it is the source of a river that watered the Garden which is the Church of God.  This river represents the Holy Spirit that came directly from heaven and poured down on the Early Church. 


“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:1-4)


The Garden of Eden is the type of heaven on earth.  In our Lord’s Prayer we say: “Our Father in Heaven, Hallowed be Your name.  Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Mt. 6:9-10)  When all the children of God do God’s will in the Church we shall fulfill this prayer and it will be like living in the Garden of Eden.



May God bless you


A sermon based on this article was preached by Paul Wong

to a Congregation in Houston, Texas on June 12, 2004

For comments please write first to: [email protected]


Paul Wong is a Christian minister and the President of ARK International.
His ministry also serves as an architectural service company in Houston.
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