Genesis 2:8 tells us, “…the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.” This is often referred to also as the garden of God. It was a literal place of course, but there is much more to it than that. When Wallace writes about the Garden he suggests that the real significance of the Garden is that it’s the place where God will dwell with man in intimate fellowship. He writes, “The description of the garden of Eden in Gen 2:4b–3:24 contains many of these motifs. These include the unmediated presence of the deity, the issuing of divine decrees (3:14–19, 22–24), the source of the subterranean life-giving waters which supply the earth (2:6, 10–14), abundant fertility, and trees of supernatural qualities and great beauty (2:9). Eden should not be understood as a garden planted strictly for the habitation of humans. It is essentially Yahweh’s garden which humans were invited to enjoy and cultivate. The narrative is therefore concerned with the issue of humankind entering and dwelling within the presence of deity.”[1] Paradise is being with God in intimate fellowship.

My Dad built a new house for us in 1961. We had been living further North near Miller Park in Omaha and he wanted to get us into the Holy Name Parish so he bought one of the only vacant lots in the area and built a house for us by himself from scratch. He began by building the basement, then he framed it all in after laying down the floor. We would drive over there to check it out several times during the summer of 1961 before we were ready to move it. By the end of August, he had built a nice house for me, my brother, my sister and my mother. But it was just “things” until we moved in and made it a home. God made a house so to speak, the Garden of Eden, but it didn’t become a home until we moved into it with God. What makes a home is the “fellowship” of the family.

God wants to live with his people. He had once dwelt in the Garden (it seems) with what Job and some other passages refers to as “morning stars.” He’s speaking of “The Sons of God” that is referring to the angels until things went bad. Ezekiel 28 is often interpreted as the fall of Satan from God’s favor and God casting him out of Eden. We read in that chapter, “You were in Eden, the garden of God…Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground…” As we read on in Genesis we see that the same fate awaits our first parents, Adam and Eve. They too rebel and are cast out from the presence of God. But Jesus came to bring those who believe in him back into the presence of God in a new home. Jesus told us all about that in John 14:1-3. He said, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

[1] Wallace, Howard N. 1992. “Garden of God (Place).” In The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary, edited by David Noel Freedman, 2:907. New York: Doubleday.