This year, as we are getting closer to Easter, where the thoughts of many Christians and the religious world turn towards the cross and Jesus' death, burial and resurrection, I wanted to cover these messages again. But this time, I was thinking of a fourth garden - Paradise (which means "garden"), referring to the third heaven, the dwelling place of God.
Lord willing, this time I will get the third and (now) fourth studies written up. I plan on covering one per week until Easter (plus, a supplemental message from Days Of Praise devotionals: Make It As Sure As You Can).
The Story Of Four Gardens:
Part One - The Garden Of Eden
In Genesis chapter one, we have the account of Creation. Adam, the first man, was created on day six. God then created a garden eastward in Eden and placed man there in this perfect, sinless environment. Eden means “delight, pleasure.” There, all Adam’s needs would be met, and it would be a peaceful, blessed existence.
Genesis 2:15-17 And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
Only one command that Adam must not disobey, one command to test his love and obedience to the Lord God.
Then God made Eve, the first woman, from the rib of Adam. They were now one flesh, united together, walking in daily fellowship with the Lord… Until the serpent came along.
1) The Devil.
Genesis 3:1a Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.
The New Testament clearly teaches that it was the Devil that was speaking to Eve through the serpent. (See Revelation 12:9; John 8:44) Subtil means “cunning, crafty.” Martin Luther made this statement: “Satan’s first appearance was under the tree of knowledge.” It is also interesting to note that Satan’s first words were ones of doubt and distrust in what God had already clearly stated.
Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
“Did God really say? Did God really mean it? Can you really trust God?” These were some of the doubts the Devil was attempting to sow into Adam and Eve’s hearts. As an angel of light, a messenger (but not of God), he was creating confusion and deception. (See 2 Corinthians 11:3, 14; 1 Corinthians 14:33) Eve should never have hearkened to that voice.
Genesis 3:2-3 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
Here Eve does something good: she quotes the Word of God. But then she adds to it! God said “don’t eat of the tree”; He did not say “don’t touch it”. Once you start questioning the Word of God and moving from its solid mooring (by adding to, subtracting from, or twisting it), then you are on a dangerous, slippery slope. (See Revelation 22:18-19; 2 Peter 3:16)
Genesis 3:4-5 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
Here, we see the Devil outright contradicting God (ye shall not surely die), and enticing Eve with forbidden knowledge. Basically he is stating, “God is withholding something from you. He really doesn’t have your best interests in mind. Why not try this fruit yourself – and you can determine whether it is really good or not. Instead of having God rule over you, telling you what to do and not to do, you can be your own gods, be your own authority.” While most may not fall for the religious lie that they can literally become gods (as taught in Mormonism, the New Age religion, and various cults), many do fall for the lie that they can be their own gods – controlling their own lives, using their own fallen wisdom to direct themselves, instead of letting God and His Word be their guide and final authority.
First doubt, and then deception. The slippery slope was becoming less firm, sloping ever downwards. The road to Hell started with questioning God, but it didn’t end there. The temptation to partake of what God clearly commanded against was becoming more and more appealing. And the consequences became less and less intimidating… If death really wouldn’t come, then it really couldn’t hurt to eat of this fruit.
Genesis 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
"Hm, this does look like a good tree, not really much different than all the rest that we’ve been eating from. Actually, this fruit is quite pleasant looking, quite appealing – can’t be all that bad." And then the clincher: and a tree to be desired to make one wise. Not only was she listening to the serpent, she was now believing his word instead of God’s! There was no way the appearance of the fruit would have caused her to think that it could make her “wise”, but the Devil had planted those seeds of doubt, and now they took root.
For a more in-depth look at the temptation of Eve, please read my study, Three Avenues Of Temptation.
She took of the fruit thereof, and did eat. She disobeyed God’s clear command and ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In her deception, she probably was thinking, “I didn’t drop dead immediately – the serpent must have been telling the truth!”
And then here comes one of the saddest notes of the Scriptures: and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. Adam was with her all the time! And he didn’t step in and rebuke Eve for listening to the serpent, nor did he chase it away. Instead he observed, and then partook after Eve did. Despite the lies and deception, the consequences of rebellion against God still took effect – just as God said would happen.
Genesis 3:7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
Their eyes were opened! But not in the way that Satan promised. They now did know good and evil, but it was no longer knowledge from a state of innocency, but from a state of guilt! And it was knowledge without the means to apply it - they no longer had the power to do good, but were enslaved to the evil. Notice the contrast between Genesis 2:25 and 3:7. Sin brought shame. They needed to cover this up somehow – hence the aprons made of fig leaves, something they themselves put together. But religious works can never truly cover or deal with the sins of man.
And death had come. Not physical death at first (though the process was now begun and they would eventually die physically) – but spiritual death, which is separation from the Lord God. We will see this clearly in the next part of this study.
6) Disrupted Fellowship.
Genesis 3:8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.
Now instead of fellowshipping with the Lord like they had been doing every day since they were created, here they sought to run and hide from Him.
Genesis 3:9-10 And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard Thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
God knew where Adam and Eve were, He knew what they had done, and He knew how their sin created shame and fear in their hearts. His words were intended to draw them out of hiding and to bring a confession of guilt from them.
Genesis 3:11-13 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.
At first, Adam and Eve are attempting to play the blame game, blaming others for the sin they have committed. However, they do acknowledge their own guilt and part in what had transpired: and I did eat. What Eve had spoken was true, she was deceived by the Devil. (See 1 Timothy 2:14) This is not an excuse that God would accept, however, as she needed to accept the blame for herself. If she had not been listening to the Devil, she would not have been confused and led astray by his lies!
7) Distressing Judgement and the Promised Deliverer.
Genesis 3:14-15 And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel.
Before sin entered into the world, God had His plan prepared. Now it was time to set it in motion. Judgement was pronounced on the serpent for being the willing instrument that Satan used. And judgement was threatened to the Devil for his enticing Adam and Eve to turn from the Lord and do evil.
There was also a promise given in several parts:
1) There would be enmity between the Devil and the woman.
2) Enmity between the seed of the Devil (physically-born children of man) and the seed of the women (spiritually-born children of man - born again of God).
3) A promised Redeemer – the seed of the woman. He would be the virgin born Son of God. This Deliverer would one day be bruised on the heel – implying a temporary wound that He would recover from (this was fulfilled when Jesus was crucified on the cross for our sins, died, was buried, and arose three days later), and the Devil would be bruised on the head – this was to be a mortal wound (fulfilled when Jesus defeated him by His death on the cross, and one day would completely bruise Satan underfoot – see Hebrews 2:14-16 and Romans 16:20).
Genesis 3:16-19 Unto the woman He said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam He said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
Here Adam and Eve are faced with the consequences of their distrust and disobedience to the Lord God: Sorrow, the curse, thorns, sweat, death. As the head of the human race, it was Adam’s disobedience that brought death into the world and upon all his descendents. The first Adam brought sin and death upon all mankind, the last Adam would one day restore all that was lost in the first Adam’s fall. And this Promised Deliverer would deal with each of the effects of the curse, but that will have to wait until our next study, The Garden Of Gethsemane.
Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
1 Corinthians 15:21-22 For since by man came death, by Man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
1 Corinthians 15:45-47 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second Man is the Lord from heaven.
8) A Determined Note Of Faith.
Genesis 3:20-21 And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living. Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
The Lord clothed Adam and Eve with coats made of the skins of animals – this meant an animal had to shed its blood to cover their sin and had to die to clothe their nakedness and shame. All these animal sacrifices were a picture of and a prelude to the Lamb of God who would one day shed His blood and die upon the cross of Calvary to take away the sins of the world. (John 1:29) This plan was made before the foundation of the world, and would eventually be carried into effect about 4000 years later. (See 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:2; 1 Peter 1:18-20; Revelation 13:8) As time went on, more was revealed about this Promised Deliverer, but the basics were already given: Someone would come and save them from their sins; this Messiah would be their righteousness (the covering for their sins)
Genesis 3:22-24 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of Us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
Adam and Eve were now banished from the Garden of Eden into a sin-cursed world. The toil, sweat, and sorrow that they now faced would remind them of what it was once like in the Garden, and cause them to look for and long for the coming Messiah, who would remove all of sin’s curse.
It was doubt in God’s Word that initially brought disobedience, sin, and death into this world – and it would be faith (trust) in God’s Word and in the coming Messiah which would bring salvation to those who believed.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
October 30th, 2004
The Story Of Four Gardens:
Part One - The Garden Of Eden (above)
Part Two - The Garden Of Gethsemane
Part Three - The Garden With The Empty Tomb (coming soon)
Part Four - Paradise, The Garden Of Eternity (coming soon)