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What do you think Paradise looks like? It’s worth knowing that God once created a Paradise for a man and a woman to live in. Let’s look at what God did when he designed and created a paradise on earth as recorded for us in Genesis (Genesis 2:4) It begins by saying this is the account: when the Lord God made the heavens and the earth. Up to this point the text has been talking about the creation, but now it is saying, this is what becomes of that creation. (Gen 2: 5-6) Up to this point there had been no rain, and there are no human beings to cultivate the land yet, so only natural vegetation had appeared, but now we begin to see the process that will eventually lead to cultivation. Having described the creation of man in verse 4-7, next in verse 8-15 he tells us how God constructed a garden paradise. (Gen 2:8-9) The word Garden is used here but the original word used just means safe enclosure area and the Greek translation of this is the word that is paradise He then names it Eden and he places all kinds of trees including fruit bearing trees, but He also put in place two other specific trees. The Tree of Life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This is a critical point in the story, because by giving Adam a choice we see the beginning of humanity living with free will.
Verses 10-15 goes into great deal about its geographical location. I know some people love to research and try and place the garden geographically. But the fact is only two of the 4 rivers mentioned are identifiable today and remember this was prior to the flood which would have significantly re landscaped the whole Euphrates flood plain anyway.
But this we do know about the first responsibility given to mankind was not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and his second responsibility is to take care of the garden. Interesting isn’t it, God intended for Adam to work. Interestingly the Egyptian culture that proceeded the Abrahamic faith was one that said work was degrading. They believed that idleness was desirable and that created a culture that required the ownership of slaves. Tending to the garden was one of the benefits of living in Paradise. Sin later would result in that work become a real toil and a strife, but motivated creative work was part of the original plan of God for all of us. Meaningful work is a gift from God, not a punishment for sin. Now I understand some people are unable to work due to illness or incapacity but if you are in any way able too.
At this point in the passage when we see God gives a command. (Gen 2: 16-17) God says every tree is good to eat and you can go eat all you want.
But there is this one tree you should not eat from and that is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The critical thing that is said here is, that in the day you eat it, you will certainly die. This phrase you will die refers to two things. It means you are going to die physically, but he will also die spiritually.
He issued a command (Vs 16-17) and in the remainder of this chapter He give Adam a companion. (Gen 2: 18) It is interesting to note that after God had made everything so far, he has repeatedly said this is good. He then creates man and put him in paradise, and he says, “it is not good”, man needs something extra, because it is not good for man to be alone. This passage talks about the fact that God gives him a mate, and this has to do with the marriage. Before I unpack this, I want to state very clearly that there are exceptions. God does not expect or plan for everyone to marry.
1 Cor Ch 7 tells us that some people have a special gifting where it is a spiritual advantage not to be married. They are then able to travel or commit more time to the Lord’s work. God does not wish us to live in isolation even if we are unmarried. It may be God plan for some of us not to be married, but it is not his plan for you to be isolated. He says to Adam it is not good for a person to be alone. God says to Adam I am going to create a helper for you, a companion. A companion and a helper, not a slave and not a subordinate and not inferior.
The word translated helper in the Old Testament is the same used to describe God’s relationship to us. The Greek word comforter is the same word as the Hebrew word used here. The woman is supposed to be the husband’s helper and comforter. To fully relate to that statement, we need to read the next couple of verses. (Gen 2: 19-20) We get a flash back to chapter 1 and Adam is seen to be naming the animals, which tells us he had authority over them, but when it comes to lifelong companionship for humankind only another human will do. (Gen 2: 21-23)
The woman is not created out of the dust of the ground. She was taken from him and formed for him. She came from his side, to stand by his side as his equal. (Gen 2: 24-25) Becoming one flesh refers to something much more even than just the physical. The physical co-habitation serving as a gateway into a hopefully deeper spiritual co-habitation. This is marriage, two becoming one. Right at the beginning God defines marriage as a spiritul, social and public contract between a man and a woman. At this point there is no shame, because there is no sin. And they are totally at spiritually at one with each other. They are literally in Paradise.
I want to conclude now by making some observations and applications about the elements of Paradise? What did God give to Adam? Quite simply, a garden, a tree, and a girl. For a man Paradise is a safe place to live in, a God you can serve, and a woman you can love. Paradise can be nothing more than, work, worship and the right wife. For a woman it can be a good relationship with God, a good relationship with her husband and a safe place to live in. Widening the perspective this also tells us that for anyone paradise is just about having a proper relationship with God, a proper relationship with other people and meaningful employment or activities to fill you day. The problem for many people is they look outside of these three areas for their perfect life. Sadly, some people are inclined to think that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. God has told us what paradise is like, he even put a hedge around it for us. Whatever activity you do you should take pride in doing it and you should be doing it in such a way that it at some level it makes the world a better place. Because by doing it you are subduing the world and bringing in a small way a little bit of paradise onto this earth. Putting it simply Genesis 2 is teaching that Paradise is having a proper relationship with God. A proper relationship with other people. And some form of meaningful work or activity. And an ability to keep those things in their proper place and keep them in balance.
In the Garden