How he walked in glory, there in the garden of God. In an orchard green of fruited trees, he walked with God through dewy grass. The scent of honeysuckle and myrrh hung upon the morning air. The sound of bees and rustling leaves danced in the still of the garden.
From high upon the mountainside, he gazed upon the world: blue valleys rich with henna and lilies, streams snaked about the foot of Eden. A river flowed down from Eden to water the garden of God. They walked among the fiery stones, through the gold that lined the riverbeds. Emerald, onyx, and lapis lazuli; topaz, jasper, and chrysolite; turquoise, carnelian, and beryl. Every precious stone could be found on the walls of God’s garden temple.
But though the man could walk with God, and though the world was teaming with life, he stood as a mountain amid the plains; like a sun with no moon, the man was alone. His creator and Lord was so high above him. The birds and the beasts beneath his feet. He had no one—no one—to call his equal. No bone of his bones or flesh of his flesh. Like an apple tree among the oaks of the forest was the man of God amid his garden.
And so, the Lord caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and after he fell his true love arose. As he opened his eyes, she rose like a star. She rose like the moon in a twilit sky. She blossomed like a rose of Sharon in the desert. She shone like a fragrant lily of the valley.
And Adam beheld his beautiful bride, his beloved Eve clothed in beauty and grace.
“This, at last, is bone of my bones; she is called woman, for she was taken out of man.”
Like Solomon, he adored his wife. Like a king, he honored and treasured his queen.
“How beautiful you are, my darling! Your eyes are soft and gentle like doves. Seeing you is like seeing the Spirit of God, for you are like a dove hovering in the garden, hovering over the rivers of life.”
Eve met his eyes and she loved her beloved. In the garden of God, their hearts became one. And looking around at the trees in the garden, her love echoed the future as she said to her one:
“The beams of our house are juniper trees; our rafters are cedars, our canopy firs. I am a rose of Sharon among flowers, a lily of the valley in the garden of God.”
But all was not perfect in that sanctuary, for an angel of light chose to sow darkness. He would plant the seed of an idea—a doubt—to grow and take root and spread thorns in the garden.
In the middle of the garden were two trees; the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life grew side by side. Both bore fruit, and both were of God, but the fruit of evil, God warned, brought death.
“Truly?” asked the angel from beneath shaded boughs, “Did God truly say you can’t eat any fruit?”
“We may eat any fruit of any tree in the garden, but this one brings a knowledge that will cause us to die.”
“He lies,” hissed the angel, in defiance of his creator. “He knows you’ll be wise knowing good from evil. He knows you won’t die, but you’ll rule like gods, if you eat of this fruit he’s forbidden.”
But Adam stood silent, listening to the snake, and he failed to protect his wife and his home in God’s garden. As he watched, she took the fruit; she plucked it and ate. She gave some to him, and he ate it as well. Rebellion considered became rebellion committed, and upon their transgression, their eyes became open. Their souls were laid bare. Their weakness, exposed. In horror, they understood their treacherous ways. They had fallen into sin and betrayed their creator. Death now walked in the garden of God.
At the sound of his footfall, rumbling like thunder, they fled to the bushes clothed in fig leaves. What once had been pleasant—God’s presence, his justice—now was the death knell of doom and destruction. Just as his face had once shone down upon them, now surely his judgment would burn them to ash.
“Where are you hiding and what have you done?” asked God, though he knew, yet he loved them even still. For God’s holy justice is tempered with mercy. Though humankind fell, their creator had a plan. “Because you have done this, you must leave my temple; my arbor, sanctuary, my haven in the trees. But when time is full, I will give Eve an offspring, a seed to uproot the thorns of the devil. Though death bites his heel, he will crush Satan’s head. He will carry the curse you brought down in my garden.”
And down from the garden Adam and Eve fled from God’s presence. As our ambassadors in God’s court, they had waged war against heaven. No sinner can stand before his face and live. We were cast from his temple and could no longer walk with God in glory among the fiery stones. And the way was shut, and the gates were closed, and thorns sprung up from the parched cursed earth.
For forty days and forty nights—for six thousand years—we wasted and wandered outside the gates of that holy of holies; his garden, his temple, the arbor of heaven.
And then something happened that stunned even angels. A footfall was heard in the garden of olives. No billowing smoke or thunder was rumbling, yet God walked with us in the cool of the day. Bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh, he was called Immanuel, for he was taken for man. The sound of his voice and the breath of his prayers gave life in the still of the garden once more.
Yet Satan was watching, and Satan was fearful. He hated this one who was human and yet God. This one adversary, foretold of old, left his Father’s home to hold fast to his bride. So, Satan conspired to separate us from God; to end this inexplicable, God-Man of promise. He lurked in the garden in the cool of the day. Gethsemane’s boughs cast wide their shadows as death and life walked in the garden.
Did the serpent feel victorious to see Jesus crucified? Nailed to the tree of our knowledge of good and evil? Or did he by chance notice the undoing—that Jesus was raised up where Adam once fell?
The thorns that had sprung up from the ground crowned his head and he died in our place who were cast from the garden. He undid the curse brought down long ago. As his flesh was torn, so the curtain was torn, and a way opened up to the presence of the Father—to the holy of holies, the sanctuary of heaven, where peace and joy flow forevermore.
As he rose from the dead, the stone was rolled back, and death could no longer hold us in darkness. Just as Adam fell asleep so that Eve might arise, so Christ fell asleep that we might rise too.
Now down from heaven comes a beautiful garden; the temple of God with one tree at its center. His mighty great roots bridge rivers of grace and the Spirit of God hovers on the waters, declaring peace where chaos once reigned. He is calling us home to be one with him; calling us home, back to God’s garden.
Now the garden of God stands ready for his bride. Emerald, onyx, and lapis lazuli; topaz, jasper, and chrysolite; turquoise, carnelian, gold, and beryl; each precious stone adorns the walls. The fruit of the tree never goes out of season. Its leaves never wither. Its boughs never fail. In the shade of its branches, we’ll walk in the garden. We’ll walk with God amid the fiery stones.
But Satan is cast out; his forked tongue is silenced. He fell down like lightning from the garden of God. Christ struck him down as Adam should have before. The accuser cannot accuse, nor can the deceiver deceive, for our one has defended his bride and his garden.
“Heaven draws near, my darling, my one! Come with me to my garden, my bride bought with my blood. The winter is past; the storms are over and gone. Flowers appear where once thorns broke the earth. The season of singing has finally come. The cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree bears fruit and the vineyards all blossom, pouring their fragrance amid the walls of my garden. Arise! Shine! For your light has come and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.”
Cover image by Florian Giorgio.