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THEOLOGY > Man > Man's Original State > Lived in Eden 


God prepared a home for Adam and placed him in it: “Yahweh God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed” (Gen. 2:8). Adam’s home is spoken of in three different ways: “a garden eastward in Eden” (2:8), “the garden of Eden” (2:15; 3:23, 24; Joel 2:3), and simply “Eden” (Isa. 51:3; Ezek. 28:13; 31:9). Thus, three points can be concluded: one, Adam’s home was a garden; two, it was located somewhere in Eden; and three, Eden was probably located east of where Adam was created.

“Eden” means “delight,” and the Garden has come to be equated with Paradise, man’s idyllic original home, which is indicative of the future bliss that man will enjoy in eternity. Trees pleasant to the sight and good for food were there (Gen. 2:9), including “the tree of life” in the middle of the Garden and “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Gen. 2:9). And a river was there, a river that arose in Eden, watered the garden, and then divided into four rivers. Of the four rivers named in the Scriptures only two are known, the Tigris (Hiddekel) and the Euphrates (Gen. 2:10-14). Identification of the Pishon and Gihon is impossible. From these limited geographical references, the conclusion must be that the Garden was located somewhere in the area of ancient Mesopotamia or Armenia.

Eden is spoken of as a definite place: Gen. 2:8, 10; 3:23-24; 4:16; Isa. 51:3; Ezek. 28:13-14; 31:9, 16, 18; 36:35; Joel 2:3. In the Scriptures the Garden is depicted as a real place; it is not presented in any mythical or ephemeral manner. The literalness of Eden is related to the literalness of Adam; and both of these are foundational to a proper understanding of the New Testament teaching regarding the Second Adam and the redemption He purchased on a literal hill. This is to affirm that the Old Testament story in Genesis does not stand in isolation but is essential to the rest of the Revelation. To relegate the account of the Garden to myth or legend is to undermine the historical nature of later Revelation that anchors the redemptive activity of God to the historical process. If Adam and Eden are historically questioned, then the Second Adam and Calvary should be brought into question also. They stand or fall together (see: Two Men-Adam and Christ).

This position is in opposition to that interpretation which makes the Garden symbolic, so that the message is in the symbolism and not in the historical incident. Such is illustrated by the Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible: “Eden symbolized the state of the unbroken fellowship between God and man” (23). In this perspective is lost the historical nature of the Fall; and if the historical Fall is jettisoned, then it seems that the historical nature of the Atonement must also be revised. But such thinking undermines the entire historical nature of the Christian faith, which is not removed from history but claims to be the working of God within history. To remove Christianity from history is to eviscerate the message, and to leave the followers with a faith that is vain (I Cor. 15).

Man was to tend and keep the Garden (Gen. 2:15), that is, man was to cultivate the Garden and protect the Garden. The latter word, “keep” is the same word translated “guard” in Genesis 3:24. In connection with Adam’s immediate work in the Garden was his larger assignment of Dominion (see: Dominion Mandate). Man was not created to be idle but to work, a work that was reflective of God’s directive to man and reflective of the work of God Himself. And it was in obedient labor that man would find meaning and fulfillment in his existence.

In the Garden God came to man. From the beginning man was not left in isolation and loneliness but was the recipient of a fellowship with the Creator that was initiated and sustained by the Creator. Adam and Eve did not go to God and visit with Him, but God came to them in order that there might be fellowship. God is ever the gracious Initiator.

Always in relationship to God, man is dependent upon God, dependent upon the grace of God that takes the initiative in establishing a relationship and in maintaining the relationship. Man was not created to exist in solitude, but was created to know and to enjoy his Maker. In this manner the psalmist expresses it: “In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11); “My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God” (Ps. 84:2); and “There is none upon earth that I desire besides You” (Ps. 73:25).

Adam experienced fellowship with God in the Garden. The Scriptures record God “walking in the garden in the cool of the day” (Gen. 3:8). The fact that man was created did not cause such a divide between God and Adam so that communion between the two was impossible; in fact, man was created so that he could have fellowship with God (see: Fellowship with God). The great gulf between the two came with the entrance of sin into the life of man; it was not a limitation that was part of man’s initial state.

Even after his sin God still came to man where he lived in the Garden, and it was there that God confronted man with his disobedience and pronounced the accompanying curses. As then, so it is now. God comes to man confronting man in his condition of sin and rebellion; and man may hide but God comes looking and calling. From beginning to end the sequence is the same: the Good Shepherd looks for and finds the lost sheep, and then He brings the sheep to the fold.

To be the recipient of God’s seeking grace is to be blessed. Security is not in my finding the Father, but in the Father’s finding me. I am not saved by my looking but by His finding.

Blessed is the man You choose,
and cause to approach You,
that he may dwell in Your courts.
Ps. 65:4

When removed from the Garden by God, it is not sure where Adam lived; but the Scriptures record that after Cain killed his brother he “went out from the presence of the Lord and dwelt in the land of Nod on the east of Eden” (Gen. 4:16).

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