David Kolander

Where Is the Garden of Eden?

by David Kolander on December 6th, 2023
Genesis 3:21-24

Have you ever wondered where the Garden of Eden was? If you have, you are not alone, because there are any number of books that have been written by people who just can’t figure out that we won’t ever be able to figure it out. Recently I read a note from one sarcastic scholar who doesn’t believe in the Bible, making fun of those people who have gone on long journeys looking for the Garden of Eden. He said that in the last two centuries alone, different people have thought they found the Garden of Eden in places like this: in Iraq, in Turkey, in Sri Lanka, in Mongolia, under the Mediterranean Sea near the island of Crete, in Sweden, in the Persian Gulf, in Egypt, in Florida, in California, in Missouri, in Ohio, and at the North Pole. Now that person was actually making fun of the Bible, sadly, but we shouldn’t be adding to people’s opportunities to make fun of the Bible by trying to figure out what we can’t figure out. What we can figure out, however, is that God doesn’t want anyone to ever go back into the Garden of Eden, wherever it was, because our reading from Genesis tells us that God put cherubim there at its east entrance – invisible angel-beings — with a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way back into it.

Now, if our perfect, wonderful God, who made a perfect world in six days, including the wonderful Garden of Eden, doesn’t want us to go back into it, there must be a pretty good reason not to go back into it, right? God tells us what that reason is when the persons of the Triune God spoke within themselves in verse 22 and said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”

But, God, I want to live forever. Don’t you want to live forever? Isn’t that what our whole life as Christians is all about – to live forever? It most certainly is, but the life that we would have lived forever if Adam and Eve had lived forever in the Garden of Eden after they had sinned in the Garden of Eden by eating of the forbidden fruit would have been a life that would have kept them – and us — from having the kind of eternal life that God wants us to have, where there will be no more sins and no more problems and no more tears, because if Adam and Eve had somehow gotten past those cherubim at the entrance with the flaming sword and eaten of the Tree of Life, they would have continued in a life that would only have had continuous sins and problems and tears – and there would have been no way out of it. They would have been stuck in an eternal life of pain, a home of horror, a garden of grief. So in love, God, we are told in the last verse of our lesson, “drove them out” – the impression we get from the word the Bible uses is that he may have had to even force them out. Yes, in love God drove them out, because he did not want that kind of life of death for them, his own dearly loved creation – or for any of us who have followed in their path.

But God didn’t just show his love in banishing them from the once wonderful place. He also showed his grace in giving them the promise that they would someday live in a new place that would have a wonderful Tree of Life, something they would never have to be afraid to eat of. More about that in a moment. But, first, did you notice something that can be easy to miss in a quick reading that shows what else God provided for them in his love? The opening verse tells us that “the Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” At one time they had felt no shame as they did not need clothing as they interacted with each other. But that all changed after the bites from the fruit at the temptation of the snake, and they found whatever fig leaves that would fit and tried to cover themselves before God, because they now felt a brutal, suffocating shame. God could have left them the way they were with those fig leaves, but he provided clothes for them – garments of skin to cover them and protect them and make them warm and comfortable, as Adam, we are told, would now “work the ground from which he had been taken.” Even though that once holy ground would now be filled with weeds as he worked it; even though his wife Eve would now sometimes see his leadership as something to chafe under and resist, even as Adam would be tempted to treat her disrespectfully; and even though those clothes would wear out and need to be replaced at times when perhaps it was difficult for them to afford replacing them; still the Lord in love gave them food and clothes and work and a purpose to live a life outside the Garden of Eden they had once been in until they got to another Garden of Eden from which they would never have to go out.

So, where is that Garden of Eden? Where is the place we will never have to leave – and never want to leave? Sometimes we want that garden to be this garden of our life on earth, right? And, just as God provided for Adam and Eve in their life on earth, so our Lord gives so many blessings of food and clothes and work and family and friends and countless more, which we do want to enjoy for as long we can. But you know the next thing we have to say. Satan does not want us to just enjoy those blessings from a wonderful God; he wants us to not appreciate those blessings or to covet more blessings or to blame God for not blessing us in the way we think we should be blessed. The devil is always slithering around in our mind, trying to get us to eat from any Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil we can find, tempting us to think that our knowledge of what is good and our knowledge of what is evil is more important than what God tells us or what God wants for us or what God demands of us – all of which leads us to look for any phony fig leaves we can find to try to hide our real attitude from God; to explain away our sinful actions which can’t be explained away; to blame someone else in our life that God has given us for the problems in our lives that certainly can’t possibly be our fault – until in love, God comes to us as he came to Adam and Eve in the Garden and says, “Where are you?” If you want to know where the real Garden of Eden is, you first tell me where you are, because when you and I realize there is nothing we can possibly hide from God, then, thankfully, we can know there is nothing we ever need to hide from God, because God in his love did not just provide some earthly garments of skin for us, but in his grace he has provided garments of grace for us – a perfect robe of the forgiveness and holiness of Jesus – and also a “time of grace” for us – the time while you and I live in this earthly garden of our world, during which he wants us to know for absolutely sure where there is a world without end.

… and how we get there. We don’t need to go searching for a place we can’t find, but we simply thank God that he has gone searching for us. And in his search God has found the lost by sending the one who came to seek and to save the lost, our Lord Jesus. What did our second reading from John’s Gospel say? The night before he died, Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled… My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” While we live in the house of this world, we really are in exile – banished from the once perfect Garden of Eden. But we live by faith in Jesus’ promise that there is another house that is the Garden of Eden regained – Paradise restored — a house that will be yours and mine that does not have an entrance guarded by cherubim with a flaming sword so we can’t get into it, but a house we will be ushered into by all the angels who will come on the clouds of heaven on the Last Day and take us right into it – a house that is our destiny because our Lord Jesus allowed himself to be banished from his Father’s house so he could come to this garden of grief and sin and in our place bear the griefs caused by our sin on the real Tree of Life called the cross, as he undid what the first Adam did by being the perfect second Adam who again opened the gates to what otherwise would have been shut forever – the Tree of Life to which we can reach out our hand every day and enjoy the sweet taste of Jesus.

So, as Jesus also said that night to his disciples, as we put our faith in him and his Word, he assures us: “My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”  Where is the Garden of Eden? It’s where our home is. It’s where our perfect home is. It’s where our home is that no longer has sins or problems or tears. Our home – our Garden of Eden – is where Jesus is, in our hearts by the faith we have in what he came to do for us — and in heaven where with the cherubim and all the hosts of heaven we will someday get to sing Hosannas of praise for being in the place we have always wanted to be – a place for which we didn’t even have to go searching. I pray that peace and that joy – yes, that Christmas peace and joy — makes all your Advent preparation a most wonderful time of reflection for you as you sing those praise-filled songs during these weeks ahead – and as you rejoice that your entry into the new Garden of Eden truly is absolutely for sure all because of the little Lord Jesus who made his first little home on that first Christmas xaway in that manger. Amen.

Sermon Archive
I’m New to Christ the Lord Request More Information

Copyright © 2024
Website by Sinclair Design Group