Follow Me: Three Gardens With One Purpose

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Three Gardens With One Purpose

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Follow Me: Three Gardens With One Purpose

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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 1:1-3 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
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; John 1:14 John 1:14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
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; Hebrews 1:1-2 Hebrews 1:1-2 1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 Has in these last days spoken to us by his Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
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; Colossians 1:15-16 Colossians 1:15-16 15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
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).

We will meet Him again as Jesus, the Son of Man (Isaiah 53:7-8 Isaiah 53:7-8 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opens not his mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
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), and ultimately as the exalted Christ (Revelation 4:11 Revelation 4:11You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for you have created all things, and for your pleasure they are and were created.
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). 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 Matthew 12:28But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come to you.
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).

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 Isaiah 46:8-10 8 Remember this, and show yourselves men: bring it again to mind, O you transgressors. 9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
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).

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 Genesis 2:15And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
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). 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 Genesis 2:7And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
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) into the living being that Scripture declares to be a “son of God” (Luke 3:38 Luke 3:38Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.
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).

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 Genesis 1:26And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.
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)—and that is “to bring many children into glory” (Hebrews 2:10 Hebrews 2:10For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
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, 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 Genesis 2:21-24 21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; 22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her to the man. 23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall join to his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
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). 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 Revelation 12:9And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
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)—entered and pointed to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:1-6 Genesis 3:1-6 1 Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, Yes, has God said, You shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 2 And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die. 4 And the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die: 5 For God does know that in the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. 6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also to her husband with her; and he did eat.
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). 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 Genesis 3:4And the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die:
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). 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 Genesis 3:14-19 14 And the LORD God said to the serpent, Because you have done this, you are cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; on your belly shall you go, and dust shall you eat all the days of your life: 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; it shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. 16 To the woman he said, I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in sorrow you shall bring forth children; and your desire shall be to your husband, and he shall rule over you. 17 And to Adam he said, Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree, of which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat of it: cursed is the ground for your sake; in sorrow shall you eat of it all the days of your life; 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to you; and you shall eat the herb of the field; 19 In the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, till you return to the ground; for out of it were you taken: for dust you are, and to dust shall you return.
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), 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 Deuteronomy 30:19I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live:
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).

There is no way to alter this equation by human means alone. Genesis 3:24 Genesis 3:24So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
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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 Genesis 3:15And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; it shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.
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: “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 Romans 16:20And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
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).

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 Genesis 3:21To Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
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). 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 1 Peter 1:18-20 18 For as much as you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 Who truly was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,
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).

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!