The Location of the Garden

Although we commonly use the terms Eden and Garden of Eden synonymously (as the Bible occasionally does also), Genesis 2:8 tells us that the Garden was planted by God on the east side of the area known as Eden - a land which originally lay to the north of Palestine (cf. Ps. 48:2; Isa. 14:13; Ezek. 28:14; and the discussion of the rivers, below). When man lost fellowship with God and was driven out of the Garden, he evidently went out from the east side, since that was where God stationed the cherubim who guarded the Garden from intruders (Gen. 3:24). This raises an interesting question: Why were the cherubim placed only on the east? A likely answer is that the Garden was inaccessible on all other sides (cf. Song of Sol. 4:12), and that entrance had to be made through the eastern "gate" (this would agree with the meaning of the ancient word paradise, meaning an enclosed garden); in Milton's poem the devil entered the Garden by leaping over the wall (cf. John 10:1):

So clomb this first grand Thief into God's fold: So since into his Church lewd hirelings climb. [4.192-931

Apparently, the godly tended to stay near the eastern entrance of the Garden for some time - perhaps bringing their sacrifices to the "gate" - for when Cain fled from "the presence of the LoRD" (a technical term in Scripture for the official center of worship), he headed for parts farther east (Gen. 4:16), away from God and godly men.

It is thus significant that the entrance to the Tabernacle was from the east side (Ex. 27:13-16): to enter God's presence through redemption is a gracious re-admittance to Eden.

Ezekiel's vision of the universal triumph of the Gospel shows the healing River of Life flowing out from the doors of the restored Temple (the Church, Eph. 2:19-22) toward the east (Ezek. 47:1-12); and, as a precursor of the day when the wealth of all the nations will be brought into the household of God (Isa. 60:4-16; Hab. 2:6-9; Ps. 72:10-11; Rev. 21:24-26), the birth of the King of kings was honored by wise men bringing gifts from the east (Matt. 2:1-11).

A major key to the location of the original Garden of Eden is the fact that the four great rivers which watered the earth derived from the one river in Eden (Gen. 2:10-14). The Flood drastically altered the geography of the world, and two of these rivers (the Pishon and the Gihon) no longer exist. The other two rivers are the Tigris (Hiddekel in Hebrew) and the Euphrates, which do not now originate from the same source, as they did then. But the Bible does tell us where these rivers were located: the Pishon flowed through the land of Havilah (Arabia); the Gihon flowed through Cush (Ethiopia); the Tigris flowed through Assyria; and the Euphrates flowed through Syria and Babylon (from whence it now meets up with the Tigris, about 40 miles above the Persian Gulf). The common source for these rivers was, of course, north of Palestine, and probably due north, in the area of Armenia and the Black Sea — which is, interestingly, the place where the human race began again after the Flood (Gen. 8:4). Eden, as the source of water, was thus the source of blessing for the world, providing the basis for life, health and prosperity to all God's creatures.

For this reason, water becomes an important symbol in Scripture for the blessings of salvation. In the individual believer, salvation is a well of water springing up into eternal life (John 4:14); but, just as the river of Eden was fed by a multitude of springs (Gen. 2:6, NIV), the water of life becomes a river of living water, flowing out from the Church to all the world (John 7:37-39; Ezek. 47:1-12; Zech. 14:8), healing and restoring the whole earth, so that even the desert lands become transformed into a Garden (Isa. 32:13-17; 35:1-2). As the Spirit is poured out, "Jacob will take root, Israel will blossom and sprout, and they will fill the whole world with fruit" (Isa. 27:6).

Finally, a very important aspect of Eden's location is that it was on a mountain (Eden itself was probably a plateau on the mountaintop). This follows from the fact that the source of water for the world was in Eden: the river simply cascaded down the mountain, parting into four heads as it traveled. Furthermore, when God speaks to the king of Tyre (referring to him as if he were Adam, in terms of Man's original calling) He says: "You were in Eden, the Garden of God. . . . You were on the holy mountain of God" (Ezek. 28:13-14).

That Eden was the original "holy mountain" explains the significance of God's choice of mountains as sites for His redemptive acts and revelations. The substitutionary atonement in place of Abraham's seed took place on Mount Moriah (Gen. 22:2). It was also on Mount Moriah that David saw the Angel of the Lord standing, sword in hand, ready to destroy Jerusalem, until David built an altar there and made atonement through sacrifice (1 Chron. 21:15-17). And on Mount Moriah Solomon built the Temple (2 Chron. 3:1). God's gracious revelation of His presence, His covenant, and His law was made on Mount Sinai. Just as Adam and Eve had been barred from the Garden, the people of Israel were forbidden to approach the holy mountain, on pain of death (Ex. 19:12; cf. Gen. 3:24). But Moses (the Mediator of the Old Covenant, Gal. 3:19), the priests, and the 70 elders of the people were allowed to meet God on the Mountain (after making an atoning sacrifice), and there they ate and drank communion before the Lord (Ex. 24:1-11). It was on Mount Carmel that God brought His straying people back to Himself through sacrifice in the days of Elijah, and from whence the ungodly intruders into His Garden were taken and destroyed (1 Kings 18; interestingly, carmel is a Hebrew term for garden-land, plantation, and orchard). Again, on Mount Sinai (also called Horeb) God revealed His saving presence to Elijah, and re-commissioned him as His messenger to the nations (1 Kings 19).

In His first major sermon, the Mediator of the New Covenant delivered the law again, from a mountain (Matt. 5 :lff.). His official appointment of His apostles was made on a mountain (Mark 3:13-19). On a mountain He was transfigured before His disciples in a blinding revelation of His glory (recalling associations with Sinai, Peter calls this "the holy mountain," in 2 Pet. 1:16-18). On a mountain He gave His final announcement of judgment upon the faithless covenant people (Matt. 24). After the Last Supper, He ascended a mountain with His disci-

pies, and proceeded from there to a Garden where, as the Last Adam, He prevailed over temptation (Matt. 26:30; cf. Matt.

at the beginning of His ministry). Finally, He commanded His disciples to meet Him on a mountain, where He commissioned them to conquer the nations with the Gospel, and promised to send them the Holy Spirit; and from there He ascended into the cloud (Matt. 28:16-20; Acts 1:1-19; for more on the significance of this cloud, see Chapter 7).

I have by no means exhausted the list that might be given of Biblical references to God's redemptive activities on mountains; but those which have been cited are sufficient to demonstrate the fact that in redemption God is calling us to return to Eden: we have access to the Holy Mountain of God through the shed blood of Christ. We have come to Mount Zion (Heb. 12:22), and may boldly approach the Holy Place (Heb. 10:19), granted by God's grace to partake again of the Tree of Life (Rev. 2:7). Christ has built His Church as a City on a Hill, to give light to the world (Matt. 5:14), and has promised that the nations will come to that light (Isa. 60:3). The prophets are full of this mountain-imagery, testifying that the world itself will be transformed into Eden: "In the last days, the mountain of the House of the LORD will be established as the chief of the mountains, and will be raised above the hills; and all the nations will stream to it" (Isa. 2:2; cf. Isa. 2:2-4; 11:9; 25:6-9; 56:3-8; 65:25; Mic. 4:1-4). Thus the day will come when God's Kingdom, His Holy Mountain, will "fill the whole earth" (see Dan. 2:34-35, 44-45), as God's original dominion mandate is fulfilled by the Last Adam.

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