Genesis chapter 2 starts off with God resting from His labors of creation. I didn’t really spend much time on this in my last post about Old Testament stories, but God’s rest is an interesting way to start off the chapter that then goes on to talk about how man is created, and the work he is given to do. Was God tuckered out after all that creating? Not likely – the heavens and earth came into being with just a word from God.
Rather, according to the ancient Near Eastern way of thinking about things, divine rest is associated with temple building. This is actually a theme that carries on throughout Scripture. The Tabernacle, the Temple, the Promised Land, and the new heavens and new earth in Revelation 21-22 all reflect the Garden of Eden. Revelation even talks specifically about the Tree of Life!
The Garden of Eden is not made simply to house God’s creatures; God planted it to be a place where God Himself dwells among them.
This, of course, unearths all kinds of questions for us. This concept of resting on the seventh day is huge throughout the rest of Scripture. Because God rested, we also should rest. Based on this concept throughout Scripture of divine rest being associated with God’s presence, it seems that rest is simply being with God.
And anywhere that God is must necessarily be beautiful, because he makes all things beautiful. Hence the dwelling place that God created – the Garden of Eden, the symbol of all that is beautiful.
I cannot even begin to imagine how incredibly lovely this garden must have been. God, the source of all life, brought life into it. What beautiful flowers, what heavenly scents, what shades of color!
Was it tropical, with bold colored flowers riotously growing all over everything like a Mediterranean garden, citrus trees and grapevines combining with the luscious smells of mint and rosemary?
Or was it more like an English garden, with beautiful pops of color each in their own section of garden, lavender and rose and apple blossoms scenting the air? It’s absolutely clear that God planted trees – maybe vast orchards of peach and cherry trees, or olive and lemon and lime.
No matter what flowers or fruit trees grew there, of one thing we can be sure: it must have been stunningly beautiful and lush. A river flowed right through it – a river for Adam to refresh himself in the heat of the day and to lull him to sleep in the cool of the night with its soothing sound of running water. A river to irrigate all the surrounding beauty. The river that became the source for the ancient world’s four largest rivers. Perfectly clean, clear, life-giving water! Before pollution, before allergies!
This garden is where God put Adam. God made him outside the garden and then placed him in it, showing Adam how to be a cultivator of all that is living. And, as we’ll see next time, this is also where God brought Eve to join Adam.
Together, in this dawn of the world, they were given that joyful task of being cultivators of an earth that was not yet cursed – cultivators of a garden that had no death or decay, only thriving life pulsing through it in land and beast. And they were there together with God, resting and talking with him in the twilight hours when the day’s work was finished.
Do you think of being with God as restful?