Two Gardens

Dr. Ron J. Bigalke

Two gardens in the Bible—Eden and Gethsemane—prove the significance of choices made. Think of the tremendously different outcomes of decisions made in those two gardens. Two decisions were made, yet how dissimilar they were in what occurred as a result. Each and every day, you and I make choices similar to those made in the two gardens.

The Garden of Eden
The first mention of the Garden of Eden is Genesis 2:8 (“The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed”). Adam would be the only human to occupy the Garden until Eve was created (v. 18). The Garden of Eden was paradise on earth. “Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (v. 9). “Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers” (v. 10).

Based upon the description in Genesis 2:8-14, the Garden of Eden is usually said to have existed in the Middle East, somewhere between where the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers are located today. The description, however, cannot be harmonized with the geography of the post-Flood Middle East, or anywhere else on earth. Genesis says that one river “flowed out of Eden to water the garden,” which then “divided and became four rivers.” The modern Tigris and Euphrates Rivers begin in two different locations, and then join together just prior to flowing into the Persian Gulf. Furthermore, the global Flood would have destroyed and changed the surface of the earth, meaning it is impossible to know where Eden was originally located. The fact that two of the rivers mentioned in Genesis 2 have the same name as the Tigris and Euphrates today is not surprising, because Noah and his family most likely used pre-Flood names they were familiar with to designate post-Flood waters.

God created Adam with free agency, meaning he would be responsible for his acts and character. “Free” meant to act without compulsion from beyond himself, and this in accordance with his nature. Adam possessed “agency,” which could be exercised in action. God created humanity with the agency (power) to accomplish certain actions. The fact that God created humanity in His image, means those actions ought to conform to the likeness defining that identity. As a free agent, Adam immediately received from God the test of a prohibition: do not eat from “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” for the consequences would be death (vv. 16-17). Scripture does not explicitly state why God gave the prohibition, except to suggest that the result “would be to the praise of His glory” (Eph 1:9-12).

In the Garden of Eden, Adam’s decision to disobey God’s one command brought condemnation to all humanity. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus’ choice to humble Himself “by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:8), resulted in salvation for everyone trusting in Him to provide forgiveness for sins. Romans 5 contrasts the choices of Adam and Christ. All the condemnation and death that Adam brought into the world, Christ overcame.

Adam is, therefore, a type of Christ in that he is a representative man whose actions have implications for others. Scripture declares that Adam “is a type of Him who was to come,” namely Christ (Rom 5:14). The acts of Adam and Christ affect everyone they represent, yet there are differences. Adam’s actions brought condemnation and death to all humanity, yet from Christ “there resulted justification of life” to all who believe (vv. 15-19). The difference between Adam and Christ is what each man imputes to others through his actions. Adam’s disobedience made many sinners, whereas through the obedience of Christ, “the many will be made righteous” (v. 19).

Do you think Adam would have eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, if he knew the dire consequences upon himself and all his progeny? Probably not, given that foresight. Adam did have God’s Word and warning though, which we also have. In that sense, his choice is similar to those we make.

The Garden of Gethsemane
John 13 (vv. 21-30) contains Jesus’ announcement of His betrayal. He previously spoke only briefly concerning His betrayal, yet now instructed His disciples specifically. Even though Jesus spoke of the betrayer and had given the dipped morsel to Judas, the disciples did not anticipate that Judas would be the traitor, because he had been such an expert hypocrite. Though he fooled others, Jesus knew His betrayer, and so dismissed Judas from the company of His disciples and Himself. Judas needed to depart, for Jesus would not deliver His Upper Room discourse in the presence of His betrayer (chs. 14—17).

Judas apparently went directly to the Sanhedrin when he departed the Upper Room. He knew Jesus regularly went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray with His disciples. Luke 22:39 says it “was His custom” to go there. “Judas also . . . knew the place, for Jesus had often met there with His disciples” (John 18:2). Judas knew precisely where to bring the authorities.

Gethsemane is a garden among a grove of olive trees across the Kidron Valley, at the base of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. According to the four Gospels of the New Testament, Gethsemane is where Jesus agonized as He considered the crucifixion. It is where Jesus prayed His soul to the Father in such anguish that His sweat was like drops of blood: “And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground” (Luke 22:44). Jesus was overwhelmed with grief, even “to the point of death” (Matt 26:38; Mark 14:34).

He came with His disciples to Gethsemane, and then left them for a time to pray. Gethsemane is just outside the walls of Jerusalem, so Jesus easily could have seen the soldiers coming to arrest Him. Indeed, when He rejoined three of His disciples, whom He had instructed to keep watch with Him (Matt 26:38), Jesus found them “sleeping and resting” (v. 45). He awakened them and announced that the one who would betray Him was at hand (v. 46).

Jesus could see a large crowd approaching who would lead Him to death. Yet, to be obedient to His Father and because of His great love for those He came to save, Jesus remained in Gethsemane. “So Jesus, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth and said to them, ‘Whom do you seek?’” (John 18:4). Jesus did not wait for Judas to identify Him, but presented Himself to the Roman cohort and “said to them, ‘I am He’” (v. 5).

The history of humanity began in a garden, where God placed the first man He had created (Gen 2:8). Adam’s sin against God in that garden resulted in the Fall of humanity and death entering the world (v. 17; 3:17-19). Thousands of year later, the last Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ, entered a different garden to accept the cup that was His Father’s will (Matt 26:42; Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42). Ultimately, death will be swallowed in victory (1 Cor 15:54). In the first garden, “not your will but mine” lost paradise. Paradise will be restored because Jesus said, “yet not as I will, but as You will’” (Matt 26:39).

Decisions must be made everyday. The choices made in Eden and Gethsemane were diametrically opposed. When considering life decisions, great pause is needed regarding determinations to be made. One must decide whether one wants to be like Adam in the Garden of Eden and ignore God’s Word, so life pursuits become whatever is desirable and seems right to one’s own senses. Then, one must live with the consequence of those decisions and the overwhelming regret that accompanies those choices. The alternative is to be like Jesus in Gethsemane and to heed God’s Word, even when it requires sacrifice. One knows that the Lord can bless such faithfulness greatly beyond imagination.

Midnight Call - 03/2023

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