Follow Me: Three Gardens With One Purpose

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Three Gardens With One Purpose

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MP3 Audio (18.1 MB)


Follow Me: Three Gardens With One Purpose

MP3 Audio (18.1 MB)

We all enjoy garden settings. We often allude to “taking a walk in the park” or encourage people to “take time to smell the roses.” Gardens are delightful spots, with color and calm that allow us to come into alignment with our Creator and that provide peace and restoration.

Perhaps you’ve never considered the Bible in quite this manner, but all Scripture is placed between the bookends of two garden-like settings. Yes, one right at the beginning called Eden and another at the conclusion in Revelation 22 that describes the new heaven and new earth in Eden-like terms.

Another crucial garden setting appears in the middle of the Bible, uniting the other two in a singular purpose. It’s the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem, which is vital to entering the setting displayed in Revelation 22. Without the middle garden this column would end here, but the good news is that it doesn’t! This good news elicits important questions: Why? And how are the three gardens interlinked?

We embark here on an exploratory journey through each of these gardens. And as we journey, realize that we are never alone. The One who said “Follow Me!” to His disciples will be front and center each step through these garden settings as we enter them one at a time over the next three columns. In our first stop we meet Him as the Word by whom God created all things and by whom God has interacted with humanity (John 1:1-3; John 1:14; Hebrews 1:1-2; Colossians 1:15-16).

We will meet Him again as Jesus, the Son of Man (Isaiah 53:7-8), and ultimately as the exalted Christ (Revelation 4:11). And in all this journey down through the ages He continues to bid us, “Follow Me!” no matter what humanity has done or what you have done before, so as to meet His Father, our Father, who gave His Son to be a ransom for many (Matthew 12:28).

This is in fulfillment of the purpose laid out in the first garden. Indeed, God tells us that He declares “the end from the beginning,” stating that His will and desire will be accomplished (Isaiah 46:8-10).

Let’s consider that first garden, then. Given the coming restoration of Eden, what will be restored? Is it simply plants, trees and domesticated animals—or something more profound? Just what was established in the Garden of Eden?

God’s desire for family and close relationship

“In the beginning” is the renowned phrase that opens Genesis 1, drawing us to a realm of fascination and wonderment. Have you ever asked yourselves what it must have been like to experience a world dramatically different from that of today? As God fashioned the world He emphatically said that it was “good,” even “very good.”

Scripture states, “Then the Lord took the man and put him in the garden of Eden” (Genesis 2:15). The word Eden means “delight.” Imagine a world in which all was in perfect harmony with the Creator—in which there was seamless unity between God, man and nature. Disharmony, discord, disobedience, immorality, ungratefulness, disunity, hatred, impatience, brutality and pride had not yet been given birth in the heart of man. Rather, it was a world that lacked frustration of any sort.

Looking back just before this, we may notice God bending over and ever so gently taking the clay of the earth and sculpting the pinnacle of His physical creation—the first human being. It’s on the sixth day that He moves from saying “good” to “very good,” as He lovingly breathed the breath of life (Genesis 2:7) into the living being that Scripture declares to be a “son of God” (Luke 3:38).

God’s intent in this was presented just before man was formed. The divine Beings we now know as God the Father and Jesus Christ had one purpose in mind from the very beginning when They declared, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Genesis 1:26)—and that is “to bring many children into glory” (Hebrews 2:10, New Living Translation).

Imagine as Adam’s eyes first opened and his ears first received the audible sounds of God’s voice perhaps lovingly saying something like: Just look around! This is all to be yours. But most importantly keep your eyes on Me. Why? You are to be Mine, and I’m to be yours. You were created to reflect Me in all ways, inside and out, and to respond to Me like no other part of the creation—not merely by instinct, but by choice.

The remarkable intimacy of the relationship between human beings and their Maker was designed towards God’s purpose and pleasure—our selfless and total worship in heart, mind and soul toward Him due to His unwavering decision to first love and care for us.

As man looked around, he would see a river, herbs, trees, animals and, yes, after a divinely induced nap, something really special—a woman! (Genesis 2:21-24). But it was God, and He alone in the midst of all His creation, who made everything perfect. We can only intellectually savor what the experience of walking and talking with God with absolutely nothing coming between was like.

Broken relationship, man expelled from Eden

Soon the serpent—Satan the devil (Revelation 12:9)—entered and pointed to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:1-6). It seemed so wonderful, beautiful and alluring. Sin always does! No “cactus” plant here. The thorns would come later, after Eve fell for the first and greatest lie in human history: “You will not surely die” (Genesis 3:4). Really?

Initial indications seemed to promise ingredients of unknown wisdom. And frankly, it tasted good! How could life go on without a bite? The end result of Eve’s action and the additional crunch of her husband’s bite broke the bond of full and pleasurable worship of God. No doubt God felt the painful rupture as soon as it occurred.

Adam and Eve went into hiding from their Maker and even hid and covered themselves from one another due to new feelings of shame they experienced for the first time. Everyone started to blame everyone else. The man blamed the woman. The woman pointed to the snake. No one took personal responsibility. Some things never change! If the truth be known, they were all pointing the finger of blame at God.

But in the curse God pronounced (Genesis 3:14-19), He specifically and systematically pointed to each of them and sentenced humanity to a frustrating life apart from the delight of the garden experience. But it wasn’t the garden alone that had defined the experience, was it? No—it was being with God!

The relationship bond that initially existed between God and man was broken not by God’s design, but by man’s shortsighted choice. It’s here in the first garden, Eden, that we are confronted with the consistent and systematic life equation that for every cause there is an effect, whether blessing or curse (Deuteronomy 30:19).

There is no way to alter this equation by human means alone. Genesis 3:24 says that God “drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.” A sign went up at the garden gate: Closed until further notice!

The great decision and magnificent choice

Thankfully, however, God has made a magnificent choice transcending our mortal foibles. God made the great decision to create man in His image. But as this required man’s free will to make wrong choices, God had to choose what to do about that. And He revealed His magnificent choice when He proclaimed the first messianic prophecy recorded in all Scripture. It’s found in God’s words to the serpent in Genesis 3:15: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”

So often we think of prophecy in books like Daniel, Jeremiah or Revelation. But prophecy starts here in Genesis! The rest of the Bible is the fulfillment of this singular verse. The rest of Scripture displays how the serpent would be at war with the Seed of the woman—Jesus Christ Himself!

This verse speaks of the wiles of Satan, always nipping at the heels of God’s chosen Savior and covenant people and being an instigator of Christ’s death (yet only by God’s allowance to fulfill His purpose), but how God would ultimately triumph through His only begotten Son and crush the head of the snake (Romans 16:20).

This magnificent choice declared in the first of messianic prophecies would offer hope to the hopeless and a compass to the lost. Yes, even as humanity was being evicted from the Garden of Eden, God was already initiating a plan of return through the shed blood of more than an animal from Eden to provide Adam and Eve clothing (compare Genesis 3:21). Rather, this would require the blood of the very One who made them in the first place—the living Word of God, the One known in the Old Testament period as the Lord God, now in our time revealed as Jesus Christ.

The apostle Peter plainly states that we are redeemed, bought back from sin and death, through “the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb . . . He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you” (1 Peter 1:18-20).

Yes, the Seed of the woman is the way back to Eden—the Seed that would bring forth a precious life, a humbling death and glorious resurrection in preparation to reign on behalf of His Heavenly Father on the earth for a thousand years as a stepping-stone towards eternity.

But let’s not get ahead of the story. Jesus yet tells us, “Follow Me,” directing us to the next garden in Jerusalem, the middle garden, and to enter with Him and linger awhile where once again the echoes of the magnificent choice would further crystallize. He invited His contemporary disciples to come along to this same garden.

He desired their relationship too. Humanly, He needed them! But they fell asleep. And even when they awoke, they fled. In our upcoming visit to the next garden, I plan to stay there with you awhile along with our Master and learn from Him. Will you join me? Most importantly, will you join Him?

Until then, be careful what you bite into at first offer or glance. Not everything that glitters is gold, especially if it harms our relationship with God!