Garden of Eden: Not So Perfect?

I mentioned this topic in passing on Sunday morning, as we began our study of the blessed life.  I do intend to delve into it more on future Sundays, but may not be able to give it full attention in any case.  Here is, not necessarily a full treatise but a good starting essay.

Was the Garden of Eden perfect?  I don't think so.
1.  I'm not thinking that perfection is possible outside of Heaven.
2.  The serpent was present in the garden.  And with him must have come his killer, destructive instinct.

When Jesus taught us how to pray, He taught us to ask the Father that His will should be done... NOT "as it once was in the Garden of Eden."  Instead Jesus pointed to Heaven as the permanent residence of both God and the enactment of His unblemished will. 

Before we were introduced to the serpent in that undeniably splendid garden, Genesis portrays to us a very important fact about life in the garden.

  Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.  Genesis 2:19-20
I hope that you have noticed that the imperfect will of man has been allowed to affect the outcome of things in the garden of God's making.  Yes, even though the garden was a haven where God could apparently physically experience friendship with His creation, His willingness to give humanity a role, any role, in it's dominion doomed the sanctum to a state of less-than-perfection.  It certainly cannot be argued that Adam was in any form a perfect man.  Romans paints Adam as a literary and literal foil for the one truly perfect man - Jesus.  Adam's imperfection and the allowance of his will in the dominion of the garden therefore preclude perfection from defining the state of being in the original sanctuary of God with man.
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned... if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ...  Romans 5:12 & 15
Additionally, the serpent's presence in the garden again calls into dispute any idea that the garden was perfect.  Let's point out that in our account of Eve's encounter with the serpent, Eve conversed with the creature quite confidently.  Perhaps talking snakes were commonplace then and there, but how many had the spiritual constitution to discuss the commands of God with the humans?  No, I don't think we can really assume that this conversation was the first interaction that the original humans had with the crafty beast.  Nor does it seem contextually fair to assume that the legged snake navigated one of the surrounding rivers moments before that conversation and slinked directly to the center of the garden for a 1-time interaction that would result in cataclysmic fall.

You see, I don't believe that Eden was designed to be perfect.  Or that it was the original "Heaven on Earth."  No, with just these two blows, the chance for perfection was beaten out of Eden with crushing strength.  I believe Eden was designed to be ideal.  And that is a far different goal than perfection.

Eden was the ideal location and environment for God to commune with the creation He so desperately loved.  Ideal for walking, talking, leading, correcting, affirming, teaching, loving.  Eden was created to embrace God's purpose for His creation: communing in close relationship and grace-filled love.  That does not, never has, and never will, require perfection.  The Garden of Eden was ideal: ideal for communing experience of friendship between God and humans.

Oh, let's not confuse righteousness with perfection... or the perfection of faith with human perfection.  Adam and Eve's righteousness was imparted to them in the covenant they had with God in the confines of the garden, like the righteousness of Israel was imparted to them by the covenant they had with God in the tabernacle & temple practices, and like our righteousness is imparted to us in the sacrifice of Christ.

Back to Eden.  Back to Ideal.  Back to practicing the communing presence of God, imperfect as we are.  Imperfect as our now-fallen world is.


Rhonda February 20, 2011 at 6:31 PM  
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