GOD AND GARDENS
I love beautiful gardens. Although I appreciate walking through a temperate rain forest and admiring the natural flora, I especially appreciate a well-planted and maintained garden. And it seems that so does God. Throughout the Scriptures, garden language is used to describe God’s presence and blessing. This is powerfully seen in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. And even after mankind fell from innocence and was expelled from God’s garden paradise, Eden, God’s original “Creation Mandate” still summoned mankind to Edenify the earth. Ultimately, in the new heaven/earth God’s dwelling place with mankind is described as being in a garden (Rev. 22:1-5). In fact, it seems that God went to great lengths to ensure that the earth could indeed be Edenified. Because, after God had created the universe, and He focused on our extraordinary planet, He designed our planet to have the unique qualities making lush gardens possible:
* a finely-tuned gaseous atmosphere;
* a perfectly tuned gravitational rate (9m/sec);
* a biosphere that ensures symbiotic replenishing;
* a water to land ratio which distinguished saltwater from fresh-water;
* water in three states (including icy snow-capped mountains located strategically around our planet near the equator ensuring a continuous supply of melting-ice fresh water);
* tectonic plates which help to distribute nutrients ;
* microbial life;
* sea life;
* volcanic and earthquake activity distributing minerals into the food chain and precious metals nearer to earth’s surface;
He then reserved a special mountain-top field where He planted a garden. It was a life-giving garden with many fruit trees, a stream of mountain fresh water flowing through it (that would eventually flow down the Edenic Mountain and become four rivers – Gen. 2:10).
And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east,
and there He put the man whom He had formed.
Into this divinely planted garden the Lord brought the man. This was a garden that God loved. He charged ’Adam — His image-bearer — with the privilege of tending it, for it was a mystical garden. It had at least two supernatural trees and welcomed many supernatural heavenly beings, including the Lord Himself, as regular visitors. It seems that God was showing ’Adam that this is what He wanted him to do to the rest of the planet – to Edenify it.
¶ The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.
GOD CREATED MAN TO BE A GARDENER
Not only was the Lord a regular visitor to the garden He had planted (as intimated in Genesis 3:8), but even after mankind were expelled from Eden’s divine garden, gardens (and mountain-top gardens in particular) became associated with man meeting and walking with God. Even after Eden it seems that God loved to be associated with gardens and His blessing upon a land is frequently described in horticultural terms.
For the LORD comforts Zion;
He comforts all her waste places
and makes her wilderness like Eden,
her desert like the garden of the LORD;
joy and gladness will be found in her,
thanksgiving and the voice of song.
JESUS, MOUNTAINS & GARDENS
Perhaps this is no more apparent than in the life of the incarnated Christ. He often met with His Father in a garden at the top of the Mount of Olives called Gethsemane – and especially as He approached His cross (Luke 22:40-46).
¶ Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He said to his disciples,
“Sit here, while I go over there and pray.”
And it was not without significance that when the body of Christ was buried it was buried in a garden tomb.
Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden,
and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.
If gardens are symbolic of God’s presence and blessing, wilderness, barrenness, deserts are symbolic of the devil and his presence.
¶ Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
But the goat on which the lot fell for Azazel (the devil) shall be presented alive before the LORD to make atonement over it, that it may be sent away into the wilderness to Azazel (the devil).
But God’s original “Creation Mandate” for mankind was to take dominion over creation (Gen. 1:28-30). God introduced mankind to what this looked by bringing him into the garden He had planted on Mount Eden. It was a holy garden. In one sense Eden was a temple because a temple is where God dwells, and God and man can meet. This is actually an apt description of Eden. But if this is the case, then it might reveal that God not only wanted ’Adam to make the earth like Eden – a lush, fruitful, garden paradise – but also where people anywhere on earth could meet with God. Therefore, Edenifying, is not just about planting and maintaining (a) beautiful garden/s, it’s also about introducing people to God, so that they too can be reconciled to God and meet regularly with Him wherever they are. This is why I hope that our world increasingly experiences Edenification. And I hope that both aspects of this Edenification might be evident around our church grounds, our church’s 300 or so ambassadors, and especially from our pulpit for generations to come.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’
Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.
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