Genesis 2:8-14 - The First Garden and Its Purpose: Eden, Man’s Ideal Place or Home

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Now, let’s picture the scene: man had just been created by God, forming man from the dust of the ground and God Himself breathing into Adams nostrils the breath of life.  Man is standing there for the 1st time in human history, in the midst of all the lush, greens, reds, yellows, oranges, blues, purples, etc., you get the point.  God now had...

·         the universe which He had planned and purposed.

·         the man whom He had planned and purposed.

·         the perfect man and the perfect universe—which He had planned and purposed.

But something else was needed.  Man needed a residence, a home, a place to live.  This passage of Scripture describes the place where man had his beginnings upon earth, the place where man was to live.  

It covers the features which God designed for man’s residence or home.  The place is called The Garden of Eden, the most beautiful and bountiful paradise man could ever imagine.  Eden was man’s paradise, his utopia.

            Note that God’s glorious goodness is seen in His design of the Garden.  The features of the Garden clearly show that God cares deeply for man—for man’s welfare, provision, security, joy, and happiness.  The Garden shows that God designed the ideal place for man’s residence or home.  This passage covers “The First Garden and Its Purpose: Eden, Man’s Ideal Place or Home.”

A.                 A real place, a garden planted by God (v.8a).

1.                  “The Lord God planted a garden…”  (v.8a). 

a)                  The Garden of Eden was a real place.

(1)                 The Garden of Eden was a real place, a real Garden planted by God Himself.  However, the reality of the Garden has been denied by some persons.
(a)                 Secular thought considers the Garden of Eden to be a fictitious story, just a fairy tale or fable.  He thinks the Garden is just the Biblical author’s imagination of how man first began his life upon earth.
(b)                Religious thought – some religious thought often looks upon the Garden of Eden as a symbol or type of the ideal environment or ideal earth.  This thought thinks that the Garden is the dream of the ideal earth and environment toward which man should work.
(2)                 But this is not what the passage says.  It says that the Garden was a real, physical place, created by God Himself.  How can we say this so confidently?  Because of three clear facts.
(a)                 The specific direction of the Garden is given: the Garden was planted in the East, in the land of Eden.  When Moses wrote this, he was leading Israel in the wilderness wanderings throughout the great Arabian Desert.  East of the Arabian Desert would point toward the Arab nations of the Middle East, specifically toward the great fertile plains of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
(b)                The general location of the Garden is given (Genesis 2:10-14).  Real lands are mentioned: Havilah, Ethiopia, and Assyria.  Real rivers are also given: Pison, Gihon, Hiddekel or the Tigris, and the Euphrates.  Apparently, the Garden was someplace close to where the Tigris and Euphrates join.  This would place the Garden in what is known today as southern Iraq.
(c)                 The very context of this section of Scripture points toward the Garden being historical.  What is being discussed in this section of Genesis is creation, the beginnings of the universe and of man upon earth.  If the earth and the universe are real and man is real—if the account of creation is accurate—then the Garden of Eden, man’s paradise upon earth, must be a real, historical place.  Part of man’s beginnings upon earth is bound to include a discussion of his first environment and home.  This is only logical; this is only to be expected.


!!!! b)                  Why is it important to stress that the Garden of Eden was a real, historical place?

(1)                 If the Garden was a fictitious place, then it means that the fall of man is a fable.  Why?
(a)                 Because the fall of man took place in the Garden of Eden.  Therefore, if the Garden is unreal, then it means there is no such thing as sin, as man being lost in sin and separated from God.  If the Garden of Eden never existed—not really—then man falling into sin never took place.
(2)                 If the Garden is just a symbol or type of paradise then redemption through Christ is not necessary.
(a)                 Man would not need God or Christ to save him and his world.  Man would be perfectly capable of creating the perfect environment himself.  All man has to do is work and work for the ideal earth, and eventually he will bring paradise and utopia to earth—all by his own energy, efforts, works, and goodness.

Paul said to the Romans "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—" (Romans 5:12)

He also said "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," (Romans 3:23, NASB95)

There is nothing you can do to save yourself "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  (Ephesians 2:8-9, NASB95)

It is God and God alone who saves us "not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”  (Titus 3:5-7, NASB95)

B.                Eden met man’s need for a home: A very special place to live (v.8b).

1.                  “There he put the man whom He had formed…”  (v.8b).

a)                  Man needs a place that he can call home.

(1)                 God knew man’s need, that man needed a place where he could be centrally located, a place that he could call home.  Therefore, God met man’s need: God created the Garden of Eden, the most beautiful paradise imaginable; then He took man and put him into the Garden. 
(2)                 The word “garden” (gan) means a place that is enclosed, protected, and sheltered.  It even has the idea of being covered, of being perfectly protected (Heb., ganan).  The word “Eden” (edhen) means a place of delight, of pleasure, of bliss.  Eden means a paradise.
(3)                 The point is this: the Garden of Eden was different from the rest of the earth.  
(a)                 The earth was perfect with a perfect and unthreatening environment, and it overflowed with an abundance of beauty and fruit. But the idea of Scripture is that the Garden of Eden far exceeded the earth in beauty and provision.
(b)                The Garden gave man a place—some land, some acreage—where he could live and establish a home and community; a place that was enclosed, protected, and sheltered from the elements of nature and of the weather; a place that provided the covering—the perfect home and provision—that man needed.  The Garden of Eden was a paradise for man.
(c)                 Matthew Henry points out: God did not put man in a palace made of silver and gold, nor in a house made of ivory, but in the most beautiful and artful place of all: nature—a Garden furnished and adorned by God Himself.

!!!! b)                  Man cannot blame his shortcoming on his environment.

(1)                 Man often blames his shortcomings and failures upon his environment. 
(a)                 However, remember how man began his life, “in a perfect environment,” in a paradise on earth but man still fell into sin (Gen.3).
(b)                No man can use his environment as an excuse to sin, fail or come short. 
(c)                 Environment has an influence upon every one of us; but a person is basically responsible for his own behavior and actions, Adam perfectly illustrates this.
(2)                 Our problem is not our environment, but our heart (Revelation 20:1-15).

We have no excuse for our sin "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”  (Romans 1:20, NASB95)

John says "If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.”  (1 John 1:8, NASB95)

Isaiah writes that "All of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”  (Isaiah 64:6, NASB95)

C.                Eden met man’s need for beauty and food and for spiritual surroundings (v.9a).

1.                  “The Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight & good for food...”  (v.9a).

a)                  The Garden was to provide for Adams need and pleasure – 3 basic needs.

(1)                 The Garden provided beauty, discovery, and encounter for man.  Every tree, bush, shrub, flower, and plant imaginable was there: each with its own height and width, leaf and bark, color and fragrance.  The Garden’s beauty and immense size gave man the very provision he needed to meet his mental, emotional, and appreciation of God’s beauty.
(2)                 The Garden provided food and shelter for man.  Every species of vegetation, fruit, berry, and nut was there—everything to satisfy the taste and nourishment of man.
(3)                 The Garden provided spiritual surroundings, a spiritual environment.  The Garden’s beauty and provision was bound to give man a sense of awe and worship—to stir praise and thanksgiving from man. 
(a)                 Creation glorifies God (Ps.145:10; 148:5) & is to be praised (Neh.9:6).
(b)                However, creation itself is not to be worshipped but the creator Himself (Is.44:12-20; Romans 1:18-23).
(c)                 No surroundings and no environment can fully meet man’s need for worship.  Only God can fully meet man’s spiritual need.

b)                  Most people in the fulness of life from three things.

(1)                 The possessions of the earth:

Remember, Jesus said "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses."  (Luke 12:15, NKJV)

The Psalmist says "A little that a righteous man has Is better than the riches of many wicked.”  (Psalm 37:16, NKJV)

(2)                 The pleasures of the earth:

2 Timothy 3:4 says the end times are going to be characterized by “traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2Tim.3:4).

Moses chose to “suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin” (Heb.11:25).

(3)                 The power of the earth:

John wrote " Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." (1 John 2:15, NKJV)

!!!! c)                  The promise of God to man (Matt.6:33; 6:24-24)

(1)                 God makes an unusual promise to man.  God will see to it that any person has sufficient food, shelter and clothing.  But, there is a condition.  The person has to “seek...first the kingdom of God and His righteousness”
(2)                 When one receives an abundance, three results should immediately follow.
(a)                 God should be acknowledged, praised, and the abundance should be shared.

D.                Eden met man’s need to live forever: the tree of life (v.9b).

1.                  “The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden…”  (v.9b).

a)                  The facts about the tree of life.

(1)                 The tree is named “the tree of life.”  It sat in the middle of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9).
(2)                 If Adam, the first man upon earth, had eaten of the tree, he would have lived forever.  Apparently, he had never eaten of the tree when he was in the Garden (Genesis 3:22).
(3)                 Ezekiel the prophet predicted this about the tree of life: when Christ returned, there would be trees growing that would continually provide—never cease to provide—food and medicine for the citizens of His kingdom (Ezekiel 47:12).
(4)                 The overcomers in the great tribulation will be given the right to the tree of life (Rev. 2:7).
(5)                 The tree of life will be in the New Jerusalem, the capital of the new heavens and earth.  The tree of life will sit in the middle of the main street of the capital and grow on both banks of the major river that flows through the capital (Rev.22:2).

b)                  What is the tree of life?

(1)                 On the basis of the facts revealed in Scripture, the tree is a real tree that bears life-giving fruit, fruit that gives a person everlasting life, that keeps a person from ever dying.  But note this: the tree of life exists only in a perfect world, only where perfection exists…
(a)                 only in the perfection of the Garden of Eden.
(b)                only in the New Jerusalem, the capital of the new heavens and earth
(2)                 The Point is this: God gave man every opportunity imaginable…
(a)                 to choose life over death
(b)                to choose God’s presence over alienation
(c)                 to choose eternity with God over separation from God
(d)                to choose peace over division
(e)                 to choose obedience over disobedience and rebellion
(f)                  to choose freedom over enslavement and bondage
(g)                to choose righteousness over unrighteousness
(h)                 to choose good over evil
(i)                   to choose purpose over uselessness
(j)                   to choose fulfillment over emptiness
(k)                 to choose perfection over corruption
(l)                   to choose God over self and Satan
(3)                 God gave Israel a choice as well (Deut.30:11-20).

c)                  Remember that God loves humanity (John 3:16; Romans 5:8)!

(1)                 God showed Adam His love by providing the Tree of life.  God shows us His love today by providing the Tree of life THE CROSS OF CHRIST!

!! E.                 Eden met man’s need to exercise his free will—his ability to choose knowing good and evil (v.9c).

1.                  “The tree of the knowledge of good and evil…”  (v.9c).

a)                  Several facts about this tree.

(1)                 It was in the center of the Garden (Genesis 3:3).
(2)                 It was good for food and pleasant to the eyes (Genesis 3:6).
(3)                 It was the only tree from which Adam and Eve were instructed not to eat.  God used the tree for man to exercise his freedom of choice, his spiritual drive and ability.
(a)                 Man was to choose God by obeying Him ( Genesis 2:16-17; 3:2-3).
(b)                If man chose to disobey God by eating of the tree’s fruit, man would know evil—what it is to be disobedient. He would experience evil personally and die, that is, be separated from God spiritually, physically, and eternally.
(4)                 It was one of the two trees chosen to exercise man’s choice between life and death (separation from God).
(a)                 Adam, the first man—the forefather of the human race—did just what we do: he chose to go his own way, to do his own thing & to disobey God.
(b)                He rejected the tree of life and ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

F.                 Eden met man’s need for water and irrigation (v.10-14).

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