“And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2:8-9).
|“The Garden of Eden” Jan the Elder Brueghel (1568-1625)|
It’s July. It’s garden season. Everyone in this rural county in North Georgia has a garden, it seems. The tomatoes and yellow squash are coming in gangbusters. People around here are self-sufficient. They know how to fish for lunch, shoot dinner, maintain a garden, skin a deer, and BBQ a hog. They keep their tractors running and their farms afloat.
It’s pretty here, too. As a result from working the land, people cherish their land. They are good caretakers.
|A friend’s garden, not the one I’m helping
with this week. Different friend. EPrata photo
This week I am working a garden. Yes that is unusual for me. I do not like outside. I know it is there. I see outside through the window. I don’t need to go into it. So why am I working a garden? Because I have married friends who have a large garden. They went away this week on vacation and they asked me to tend the garden while they are gone. They said I could eat the produce from the garden and also share it with others. I love serving the brethren, so of course I said yes.
I don’t have experience with gardens and such. I’m from Maine and the growing season is so short it barely makes it worth it to put a garden in. So I have been introduced to gardening this week. Gardens are very much on my mind.
When I picked the yellow squash, cukes, and tomatoes the other day I battled bees and wasps. There were lots. The squash blossoms were huge and inviting to them and apparently none of them had declined the invitation, and hence there was a lot of buzzing to battle. Also, I had to check for snakes in the underbrush, because, well, Georgia has snakes. Apparently my fig latex allergy isn’t limited to fig latex but any plant from the tomato, squash, or cuke family. My friends have planted tomatoes, squash, and cukes. I emerged the first day with huge welts that burned and stung. And itched.
|Bee: potential ouch. EPrata photo|
The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:15-17)
I came home and put the produce I’d picked in a sink of water that also had some vinegar in it. When I plunged them into the water and let them soak, the maggots came out. So. That was gross.
Gardening may help the dinner table but it seems to me that the gardener is exposed to too many irritants and dangers in order to make it yield. All gardeners and farmers know this, but it’s stressful and difficult to work the land.
|Thorns. Another ouch. EPrata photo|
It didn’t start out that way. Initially in the Garden of Eden, “The Garden of God” (Ezekiel 28:13) it was easy to work the garden and it was beautiful, with no thorns or irritants or stinging insects or venomous snakes on the ground.
The two greatest perfidies that ever occurred on earth both took place in gardens.
Man and Woman disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. There was one rule. Don’t eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. But they did.
Why? Satan told them to. Which at the time I guess was more compelling than when God told Adam not to.
Satan is a cherubim, the highest and most beautiful angel. Yet evil was found in his heart and satan, whose given name is Lucifer, determined to war against God and supplant Him. (Ezekiel 28:15, Isaiah 14:13-14). He came down to the Garden, (You were in Eden, the garden of God; (Ezekiel 28:13) entered into a serpent and spoke to Eve and Adam. He said to eat the fruit. “Hath God said? You surely will not die.” They ate. They died.
Satan sinned in heaven and now he had brought it to man and woman and the garden. The garden was forever changed from a beautiful place with all plants, animals, and humans were at peace with God, to a thorny place at war with Him and each other.
“Cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread,” (Genesis 3:17b-19a)
|Garden of Gethsemane, 2011 CC, Ian Scott photo|
Satan entered into a serpent and brought the deepest evil known to humankind. And Satan did it again. He entered into a human this time, and brought the deepest evil known to mankind…when Judas kissed Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Betrayal!
When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. (John 18:1)
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.” (Matthew 26:36).
In the Garden of Eden, there was temptation, satan tempted Eve. (Genesis 3:4). In the Garden of Gethsemane, there was temptation also. Jesus asked the disciples to remain awake with Him, so they would not be tempted-
And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Matthew 26:40-41)
Judas came, along with a great crowd, while Jesus was speaking to the disciples about prayer so as to resist temptation. While Jesus spoke of the coming temptation, Judas arrived. Amazing. And inside Judas is who? Satan. Satan had entered into Judas a earlier that evening as Judas departed the final Passover Supper, (Luke 22:3) and went to find the cohorts to arrest Jesus. So once again, satan inhabited a being and tempted men. In a garden.
What was the temptation? I am not sure, but a short while later Peter did deny Jesus. There had been temptations to fight over position in the Kingdom, as the Disciples thought was coming soon. Perhaps it was a temptation as simple as running away, which they all did, Mark 14:50.
In the Garden of Eden man was the highest he could be, created perfect and blameless by a perfect and holy God. In the Garden of Gethsemane man was the lowest he could be, betraying and selling out God who created him for the price of a slave. And he did it with a kiss.
In one, satan inhabited a serpent. In the other, satan inhabited a man. In one, man walked perfect and righteous. In the other, Jesus as God-man walked, perfect and righteous. In one, temptation. In the other temptation as well. In one, the first Adam. In the other, the last Adam.
Sin has corrupted all gardens on the entire earth, including the one I’m working in. There are weeds and thorns and snakes and bees and wasps and prickers and allergies. … Creation groans for release from the curse pronounced upon it in Genesis 3.
The beauty that was lost in the Garden of Eden will not always be lost! We have hope. Jesus reconciled man to Himself at the cross. He came as the last Adam to be the sacrificial Lamb, endure all God’s wrath for the sin that happened in the Garden of Eden and every day since, and to impute His righteousness to His elect.
Creation groans under this curse, one it didn’t bring on itself! (Romans 8:22). But in that first garden? God gave us hope! (Genesis 3:15). At the conclusion of all things, He will reconcile earth. (Romans 8:19-21). He will restore all things! (Acts 3:21)
In the future, His entire creation become the Garden He intended it. What a day that will be!