17th January 2014

Garden of Delight 

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 (NKJV)

My garden in mid-winter is a bit of a drab place. The cherry and the plum trees are bare, most of the herbs have died back, no flowers are in bloom, withered plants lie lifelessly on the ground, and untidy shrubs wait for pruning. The only activity is the birds that flutter frenetically around the feeders, peck hopefully around the pots and debris, and tug at the tufts of grass. 

It’s a far cry from Eden, the garden in which God intended men and women to live. Linguists suggest two possible origins for the word “Eden”: one is from ancient Sumerian meaning a large, open field; the other is an identical Semitic word used to portray a delight or something luxurious. Eden is also called “the garden of God”, a place full of perfection and beauty, from which its guardian cherub was driven out in disgrace because of the ugliness of his sinful rebellion (Ezekiel 28:12,16). In Eden, of course, was the “tree of life”, which pointed to Jesus who would give his life freely that we may live; and also in it was the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil”, indicative of our choice to try to live without God’s guidance. 

In the Bible salvation is likened to a return to Eden. For example, Isaiah discusses the City of Zion (the citadel of Jerusalem) as a metaphor for humanity that is rescued by God. Zion will be comforted and blessed in an unprecedented way: God “will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing” (Isaiah 51:3 NIV). The garden imagery for salvation continues in Revelation 22:1-3 where the city of God has the “river of the water of life” flowing through it, and “on each side of the river stood the tree of life…yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations”. 

God’s purpose and grace for each of us is “fullness of joy” and “pleasures forevermore” in his presence (Psalm 16:11). It’s going to be like walking every day in Eden, that bountiful garden of God’s delight. 

Glorious Father, thank you for the future you have prepared for us in Christ Jesus, and for the beautiful imagery used to describe it. In Jesus’ name.

Study by James Henderson


bible2About the Author:
James Henderson is the National Ministry Leader for Grace Communion International in the UK and Ireland.  You are welcome to attend any of our local congregations.  For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.wcg.org.uk under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.

Email:  admin@daybyday.org.uk

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