The Garden of Eden is not a fictional entity. The Bible provides a very clear location of where the Garden was situated. The Bible says: “A river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads” [Genesis 2: 10]. The riverheads are Pishon, Gihon, Tigris, and Euphrates.
There has been some debate as to the exact location of the garden. However, considering the geographical locations of the four riverheads, one would assume that the garden was located somewhere between modern day Iraq and Iran. The Bible provides some insight into the richness of the land on which the garden was situated; a land abundant in precious natural minerals, such as gold, bdellium, and onyx.
In addition to these natural resources, the Bible says, “the Lord God made every tree grew that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the garden, as well as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” [Genesis 2: 8-9]. The richness of the land and the abundance of beautiful nature and food would suggest that the garden was purposefully designed by God to provide our forebears, Adam and Eve, with maximum comfort and plenty.
God’s favour toward man was not just in the abundance of these blessings, but even more so, was the high esteem that God bestowed to man and the role that He gave man in the grand scheme of creation. The Bible says, having created “every beast of the field and every bird of the air”, God then brought them to Adam to see what he would call them; and “whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name” [Genesis 2: 19]. Such was the amazing love and extraordinary relationship that existed between God and man. In effect, man became the custodian of God’s own creations. What a position of trust and power!
God understood the enormity of the responsibility at stake for Adam, so He decided to give him a “helper comparable to him”. The helper was going to be a soulmate, with love at the heart of the relationship. Hence, out of the rib bones of Adam [the rib bones, symbolising the strong bond that would bind Adam and his partner, Eve, at the heart], God made him a helper. And once again God gave Adam the special privilege to give His latest creation a name. The Bible says, “And God brought her to the man, and Adam said: ‘This is now the bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called ‘woman’. Because she was taken out of ‘man’” [Genesis 2: 23].
Having been so honoured and blessed with such abundance, Adam and his wife, Eve, were set for a life of blissful dwelling in the Garden of Eden and an eternal loving relationship with God. However, as with any responsible transaction, there were rules and boundaries that would come with such honour and responsibility. The boundaries were configured in the representation of the fruits of the tree of life and the tree of theknowledge of good and evil [both located in the middle of the garden] that God explicitly instructed Adam and Eve not to eat.
These two trees were located right in the middle of the garden, so they could not be mistaken. They were meant to serve as a reminder to Adam and Eve, that the privilege they enjoyed notwithstanding, they were mere mortals, made from the dust of the earth, and were never purposed by God to gain immortality and ascendancy. Hence, the consequences of disobedience would be catastrophic and ultimate fatality.
So right in the middle of abundance and all the insignia of beloved children, Adam and Eve faced their challenge and test: to eat or not to eat that which God had instructed them not to eat; to obey or disobey God. This is the Eden Test. God had done so much for man – bestowing him with abundance of good things, love, and honour. One thing only that God requires of man is obedience. The Eden Test is a test of man’s obedience to God. But in this man [our forebears – Adam and Eve] failed woefully. As Christians, our Eden Test is basically, a test of our faith and obedience to God.
What are the lessons from the Eden Test?
First, the acknowledgment that our God is an Almighty God and Creator of the whole of the universe and its inhabitants. God owns life and all knowledge. He created us to be loved, blessed, and honoured; and to have a special relationship with Him based on trust and obedience.
Secondly, God purposed that we would belong to His family. God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” [Genesis 1: 26]. However, with this amazing favour and love that God has toward man, comes responsibility and accountability. Man is responsible for all that God has placed in his care but also accountable to God, “for God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” [Ecclesiastes 12: 14].
Thirdly, that although God is loving, nonetheless, He does not take kindly to sin. Our relationship with God is set on defined boundaries, as laid down in the Bible [the Word of God]. Satan insidiously crept into the Garden of Eden and deceived Adam and Eve and caused them to disobey God’s explicit instructions with devastating consequences.
We are reminded in 1 Peter 5: 8-9 of the need to “be sober, be vigilant because your adversary, the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom to he may devour. Resist him, be steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings [tests] are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.”
But how do we resist the devil, so we do not fail when we are facing the Eden Test? Paul the Apostle offers some divine wisdom in Ephesians 6: 10-17; “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For, we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace, above all, taking the shield of faith with which, you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”
Fourthly, our forebears [Adam and Eve] gave in to Satan’s schemes and deception. They sidestepped God’s instructions and allowed Satan to assume ascendancy and to influence their judgment. Our Lord Jesus Christ in his teachings warns that “no one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” [Matthew 6: 24].
We need to ask ourselves the fundamental question, who do we serve? Which side do we belong to? Are we on the Lord’s side? Joshua exhorted the children of Israel, saying, “Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” [Joshua 24: 14-15].
Fifthly, each one of us will have Christian faith tested. We will face trials and tribulations. However, we are reminded in 1 Peter 1: 6-9 that, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honour, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen, you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith – the salvation of your souls.” AMEN!