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Paradise lost?

“Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed” (Genesis 2:8).

Follow me to an overgrown garden. We cannot enter it, but we can look inside. This garden was once lovely, but no more.

A perfect paradise

When God first planted this garden, he intended it to be a perfect paradise for the crown of his creation: people. God had carefully crafted the man out of the soil. With the breath of life filling the man’s body, God lovingly brought him to his first home: Eden. God made all kinds of trees grow in that well-watered garden; many provided tasty and satisfying food. Yet Adam wasn’t going to spend his days relaxing in paradise. The Lord had fulfilling work for him to do: tending that God-given garden.

When God caused the man to realize he was alone, there in the garden God made the woman, carefully crafted from a rib, to provide what Adam couldn’t find anywhere else. With creation complete, Eden truly was paradise—a place of perfect peace between humanity and God’s creation as man and woman wisely tended the garden; a place of perfect peace between husband and wife without the stain of sin, just as God intended marriage to be. Above all, Eden was a place of perfect peace between God and people as they lived together, walked together, and talked together.

Now in that same garden, God planted two trees—the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. While fruit from the tree of life could be eaten, God commanded Adam not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If that happened, death would be the result. God wasn’t trying to tempt Adam and Eve. Rather, they had the opportunity to show their love for him by obeying his command.

It was paradise as God intended . . . for a time.

A ruined garden

One day, the woman found herself in conversation with a serpent at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Soon she was doubting God and reaching for the forbidden fruit. Paradise became something it was not intended to be—a place of shame, fear, and blame; a place of darkness, guilt, and separation from God.

When the Lord came to visit his beloved humanity, he found them foolishly covering their naked shame and fearfully hiding from him among the trees, all while choosing blame over confession. Eden became a place of punishment as God had to speak heartbreaking words of judgment over his beloved humanity. Pain, conflict, toil, suffering, and death would come because they had willingly disobeyed his command. Memories of Eden would be painful for the rest of their lives.

For their own good, the man and the woman had to leave that garden. If they had eaten from the tree of life, they would have suffered sin’s consequences forever.

Yet before they left, God did what no one expected. He transformed that ruined paradise into a place of promise. What Satan had ruined, God would heal. What power Satan had wielded over people, a Savior would crush in the most unlikely way—with his own suffering and death. Despair became hope in the woman’s Seed who would restore peace between God and his beloved humanity. Paradise was ruined, but not lost. Paradise would one day be restored by the Savior to come.

PRAYER: Lord God, though sin ruined paradise on earth, grant us peace with you through the woman’s Seed. Restore our hope in you. Amen.

Author: Jeremiah Gumm
Volume 111, Number 03
Issue: March 2024

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