Genesis Three (Pt.3): “The Lord God Planted A Garden”
When God created Adam and his wife, he provided everything they needed. The Scriptures tells us that God planted a garden for the man and his wife (Genesis 2:8). This garden provided a fully sustainable home, a workplace and a place of worship. They had no wants.
The garden of Eden begins a “garden theology” that continues throughout the Scriptures. Eden is the prototype of blessed safety and tranquility in the presence of the Lord—a paradise (Isaiah 58:11; 51:3; Genesis 13:10; Ezekiel 28:13, 31:8ff). We will see more on the biblical theme later, but let’s look at Eden, as Adam’s paradise. The garden served three purposes for Adam.
First, the garden was Adam’s home. It was a self-sustaining home, with the bounty of fresh produce at his fingertips, for the trees of the garden were “pleasant to the sight and good for food”(2:9). God also provided him with a wife for his home. By the way, don’t miss that this home was built on the institution of marriage (Genesis 2:24 cf.Matthew 19:1-9). This was a privileged provision by God for a man to live in. It was Adam’s responsibility to “protect” it (2:15).
Second, the garden was Adam’s workplace. He had been given dominion over all of God’s creation—to worship the creator and protect his creation. His first project was to name the animals (2:19). Here was a place where Adam and his family could be sustained physically from the yield of the trees and spiritually in the presence of the Lord.
Third, the garden was Adam’s temple, his place of worship. It was the place where God dwelt—“the garden of God”(Genesis 13:10; Ezekiel 28:13). There Adam would worship God daily as he cultivated the garden. Adam’s daily work—like our work today—was an act of worship (1 Corinthians 10:31). The word that the Lord used to command Adam in caring for the garden (“to dress”) could also be translated as “worship” or “serve” (Genesis 2:15). The word is used of the Levitical “service.”
The story of Genesis three is the story of how this was all ruined by the fall. Adam failed on all three levels of responsibility. He failed to protect his home and wife against the spiritual assault of Satan. While Adam pursued his own ambition, and his wife took on the leadership role, became the chief negotiator and Satan tore his home apart.
He also failed in his responsibility to his work. God had given him the task to “protect” and “care for” the garden. He abdicated his authority and allowed the intruder to destroy his workplace. The paradise of Eden became a “waste, a howling wilderness” (Deuteronomy 32:10) and a place of “thorns and briars” (Genesis 3:17).
Adam also failed to maintain order in his place of worship. He willfully turned from what was prescribed by God and followed a pragmatic path of worship that he thought would please himself. Eden became a “synagogue of Satan” (Revelation 2:9). If he will worship God again, he must leave Eden.
All of these failures culminated in the fall—sin when it had finished, brought forth death (James 1:15). Adam’s mind became “a troubled sea” (Isaiah 57:20). His home a place of turmoil and division, his work would be with sweat and tears, and among thorns and briars, and his temple defiled, no longer a place God and he could dwell together at peace.
As bad as this is—and it’s pretty bad—the rest of the Bible is the story of how this is all recovered in God’s amazingly gracious gospel of Christ.
My name is Aaron Dunlop. I am married to Grace and we have five children. I grew up in Northern Ireland and after seminary in Greenville, SC, I church planted in Victoria BC, Canada, and pastored there for ten years. In 2018 my family moved to Kenya where I worked among rural pastors.
Early in 2020, we returned to Ireland from where I am the director of The Krapf Project and associated missionary with UFM Worldwide, helping to prepare ministry resources for pastors in rural East Africa. In this blog, I write devotional, pastoral, and theological articles. I also write on the history of evangelicalism (especially 20th century) Church History and issues related to Missiology.