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THE GARDENS OF THE LORD

CHAPTER ONE:

A GARDEN CALLED EDEN

 

When God created the heavens and the earth, He made an especially beautiful, delightful place. He put a lot of thought into its design, its function, its beauty. He planned and dreamed about it with an expectant, loving heart. It turned out to be a paradise.

It wasn’t elaborate with golden streets smooth as glass; nor were there walls with foundations of precious stones. There were no gates made of pearls. This place wasn’t glorious as heaven’s New Jerusalem is described.

In fact, there wasn’t anything majestic about it: no mountains or valleys with breathtaking views like in other parts of the earth. It had no massive and powerful ocean nearby, no windswept desert landscape, no powerful waterfalls from heights of the earth. Rather, it had an enclosed and private feeling to it. This special place was made with a distinct purpose in mind.

It was a garden. God named it “Eden,” which means “delight.” And that’s the kind of place it was.

The great decorator designed and planted everything in it Himself. It was beautiful, teeming with life so green, full of trees and colorful flowers. It had gentle brooks running over rocks, chirping birds, singing creatures, soft velvet carpeted grass, hidden coves under veils of ferns and vines, and gentle breezes carrying aromatic scents. It was blissful.

His delight in beauty was, of course, expressed everywhere on earth and in the universe all around it, but nowhere was it expressed so romantically, so hopefully, than in this garden.

He planted trees and plants bearing fruit. He created water and gave it to the land, carving out brooks and streams to nurture all the life He brought forth. He gave this new world sunshine lighting and warming it. He thought of air, of wind, and He ordered it to be gentle.

The Creator prepared everything, readying the garden just so. Then the big day arrived. Surrounded by His watchful angels, the Lord God knelt down on the ground in the garden. Bending over the soft, rich earth, He took dirt and formed a man in His own image. Breathing into its nostrils, the man came alive. The Lord called him Adam.

Adam was not like the other earthly creatures God made because he was alone, without a mate. Like God. But God saw that all was not good in this regard. Adam should have a mate.

 

Romantic love. There is nothing more delightful than being in love. If a male and a female have love that is pure, and if they can be together, there is no finer thing on earth. It can be passionate and stronger than death. This kind of love is sweeter than the love between parents and children. It is better than the love between siblings. It is more precious than the love between good friends. It is the best love.

God’s love can be all kinds of relational love. He loves with unconditional, sacrificial love. He loves as a perfect parent who loves His children. He loves as a brother through Jesus. He loves as a friend. And. And, with the strongest and best of all types of love, He loves as a lover in the fullest sense. That’s why He revealed Himself as our Bridegroom. It was His idea, not ours.

He wanted to be in love. He wanted “another” to love. Just like Adam wanted a “someone.” God, who created love, who is love, will not miss out. This special kind of love exists for His sake, as well as ours. However, human “eros” love is but a shadow compared to the original.

When God planned the first garden, He had a long-range plan. He knew how Adam would feel and did feel. He had planned to give Adam a mate all along. A part of Adam would be missing, but it would be in his “other” . . . and God smiled at the very thought of her.

God put Adam in a deep sleep and opened his side, removing one of his ribs. From it He formed Eve, his counterpart, who became Adam’s beautiful mate. She was very much like Adam, but almost opposite in some ways. She was smaller, softer, weaker, in a delicate, fragile sort of way, very sensitive, and extremely lovely. Together, they were complete. They were the image of God.

 

The Creator had in mind a way to someday find a counterpart, someone to fulfill His desires for love. He would, like Adam, have someone, too. He wouldn’t make her just from dirt, alive from His breath alone, she would come “from “ Him. She would take her place beside Him, to join Him, not just in daily life but in eternal life. His bride would come to be much like Eve. She had been formed from Adam’s side. The Creator’s beloved would be formed from His Spirit, since He was spirit.

The Lord God loved Adam and Eve. They loved Him, and they loved each other, as well. This greatly pleased the Lord.

In the midst of the garden, God gave Adam and Eve two special trees that bore fruit. They ate freely from one of the trees, but from the other one, the Lord forbade them to eat.

It was a matter of love—those two trees. For when they chose to obey their Maker, they truly showed Him their love and trust. And the Lord watched them together and enjoyed their love for each other and their love for Him. But when they disobeyed Him and ate fruit from the tree that was forbidden, everything changed.

The Lord God told them that if they ate from the forbidden tree, they would surely die.

God’s enemy, the fallen angel who had rebelled in heaven, tempted Eve telling her that they would not die if they ate the forbidden fruit, but that if they ate of it they would become like God, knowing good and evil.

Both Adam and Eve ate that fruit in spite of what God had told them. Part of what the devil said was true. Knowing good and evil, the next thing they knew after eating the fruit was that they were naked.

God found them hiding from Him, afraid to death of Him. No longer did they know innocence. They had changed. Everything else changed, too.

That’s when they realized they were cold. They’d never been uncomfortable before. They’d never been afraid before.  Something very bad was happening to them, they feared.

Their intimacy and openness, their nakedness in the presence of their Maker, was gone.  They did not want God to see them like this. They had withdrawn from Him already.

Something terrible, sin, had come between them and the Creator.

They trembled at God’s voice when He called to them, looking for them. “Adam, Eve, where are you?”

 

The Lord God knew already, knew when He couldn’t find them that they had disobeyed Him. When He found them cowering from Him, He spoke softly yet sternly to them about what He would do to help them.

First, He covered their guilty nakedness with the skins of an animal. This was hard for God to do, for He loved the animal He killed for their sakes. And, He knew, this was only the beginning . . . His children would need to use this bloody ritual of sorts, to be repeated over and over in the days ahead.

Blood sacrifices and offerings would pave the way for something so terrible, and so wonderful, that God kept this part of His plan to save them to Himself.

God came up with a long range plan, a way to cover sin by means of innocent blood. This, He knew, would only cover their shame; one day He would remove it from them. That day would prove His love and faithfulness to them. That day He would enter into death Himself and awake from it, swallowing up death with His life—his innocent blood the price to pay. Afterwards, no longer would anyone die if His life was in them. And, like Adam, who was put into a deep sleep while Eve was formed from him, so, too, God’s holy and innocent Son would be put into “death’s sleep” so that His bride could be formed from Him, made from His very nature and being. This was His secret, His future plan, and the only thing that could comfort Him that sad day when sin and death came to His beloved Adam and Eve.

He knew all the pain, suffering, sickness, sin, evil—even murder—which would follow them and their children. And He knew they would not know Him intimately, nor live in harmony with Him, as they had. Though His heart was full of pain, He gave the orders. They were forcefully driven out of the garden. An angel was commissioned with a heavenly weapon, a sword of fire, to guard the entrance. They were not allowed near the one special tree that gave life anymore. They couldn’t come back into Eden—not for a long, long, time.

 

The Lord dreamed of another time—He would make good come from all of this. But it wouldn’t be easy. It would cost Him dearly. The tree of life would be carved into the shape of a cross. He’d see to it. It would be love at its best, and hate at its worst. But to display love at its best, He decided it would be worth it.

He wanted a mate—a counterpart. He wanted to be a devoted lover. Yes, after it was all over, it would be worth it.

He could see His bride even now, in His mind’s eye. She was beautiful, pure and holy, like Him. She would love Him completely. He would buy her costly robes of righteousness and adorn her with precious, rare jewels. Not earthly ones. These would be spiritual: refined, priceless gems. He would forever cherish her, would lay down His life for her—O, how he wanted her! She would be His forever. And she would reign with Him. He would cherish her and give her His life. Passion and love would blaze between them for eternity.

 

Check back soon for Chapter Two: A Garden in Israel

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