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"The Mountain of the House of
Will be established as the chief of the mountains,
And each of them shall sit under his
Vine and under his fig tree
With no one to make them afraid."
Not all of Eden was a Garden. Although we commonly use the terms Eden and Garden of Eden synonymously (as the Bible occasionally does also), Genesis 2:8 tells us that the Garden was planted by God on the east side of the area known as Eden -- a land which originally lay to the north of Palestine (cf. Psalm 48:2; Isaiah 14:13; Ezekiel 28:14). When man lost fellowship with God and was driven out of the Garden, he evidently went out from the east side, since that was where God stationed the cherubim who guarded the Garden from intruders (Genesis 3:24). Apparently, the Godly tended to stay near the eastern entrance of the Garden for some time -- perhaps bringing their sacrifices to the "gate" -- for when Cain fled from "the Presence of the LORD," he headed for parts farther east (Genesis 4:16), away from God and Godly people.
The geographical fact that Eden was on the North of Palestine, with the Garden entrance on the east side of Eden, is the basis for later Biblical teachings. Ezekiel's vision of the universal triumph of the Gospel shows the healing River of Life flowing out from the doors of the restored Temple ( = the Church, Ephesians 2:19-22) toward the east (Ezekiel 47:1-12); and, as a precursor of the day when the wealth of all the nations would be brought into the household of God (Isaiah 60:4-16; Haggai 2:6-9; Psalm 72:10- 11; Revelation 21:24-26), the birth of the King of kings was honored by wise men bringing gifts from the east (Matthew 2:1-2,11). This explains certain aspects of the Tabernacle. Entrance to the Garden-Kingdom of God is symbolized in the design of the Tabernacle, the entrance being on the east side (Exodus 27:13-16), thus teaching that to enter God's Presence through Redemption is a gracious re-admittance to Eden.
Of course, when most people think of Eden, they don't think of a Mountain. (But then, when most people think of Salvation, they don't think of the Garden of Eden!) When we think of Eden, we think of every kind of beautiful and fruitbearing tree, which God had planted in the Garden (Genesis 2:9). Before the Fall, food was plentiful. The Garden was a place of Blessing and Refreshment.
In the pedagogical (or "ceremonial") law, the Israelites were taught to see an Eden/Redemption relationship. One example is in the botanical character of the Tabernacle. The lampstand in the Tabernacle was actually a stylized tree, decked with artificial bulbs and flowers, all made of pure gold (Exodus 37:17-24). The Temple also was richly furnished with Edenic symbolism: the cedar walls displayed carvings of gourds, flowers, palm trees and cherubim, overlaid with gold (I Kings 6:15-36; cf. the vision of the restored Temple [Church] in Ezekiel 41:28-20). The Ark of the Covenant contained not only the Law but Aaron's rod which was miraculously covered with buds, blossoms, and almonds (Hebrews 9:4).
The Holy Spirit's record of the historical unfolding of redemption points us to a restored Garden by continually pointing out that Godly men live near trees (Genesis 18:4,8; 30:37; Judges 3:13; 4:5; I Kings 19:5; John 1:48; and see in a modern translation Genesis 12:6; 13:18; 14:13; Judges 4:11). In none of these passages is the mention of trees an "essential" detail of the story; were we writing it, we would have left the trees out. But God wants us to get a vision: His people live in the midst of abun- dance, surrounded by the blessings of the Garden as they are restored in Salvation. And as you read the Bible (as opposed to "studying" it, by reading only the verses found in a theology text) you begin to get this perspective. When you think of Biblical Salvation, words that should come to mind are trees, planting, and fruit. In singing about God's deliverance of His People into the new Eden, Moses said, "Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the Mountain of thine inheritance" (Exodus 15:17). The Godly man is "like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf shall not whither; and whatsoever his doeth shall prosper" (Psalm 1:3; cf. Jeremiah 17:7-8). The Covenant People are "as gardens by the river's side, as the trees of lign aloes which the LORD hath planted, and as cedar trees beside the waters" (Numbers 24:6).
You begin to think differently when you actually read the Bible every day (and not merely read about it). Only by reading the Bible and absorbing its thought pattern can you appreciate the meaning of "Vine & Fig Tree." When Israel is Blessed, we find every man sitting under his own vine & fig tree (I Kings 4:25), and the same is prophesied of all men who will live under the Blessings of the Messiah, when all nations shall flow to the Mountain of the LORD (Micah 4:1-4; Zechariah 3:10). As the Gospel runs like a river to all parts of the earth, the Spirit heals and restores the whole earth, so that even the desert lands become transformed into a Garden (Isaiah 32:13-17; 35:12). As the Spirit is poured out, "Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit" (Isaiah 27:6).
|The Garden is a human archetype. The great empires of the world have all attempted to duplicate the Biblical Promises of Eden, from the Hanging Gardens of Babylon to the Aqueducts of Rome and California. Man believes that he can disregard God's Law and still create the conditions of "blessing" with his own hands. Every form of political tyranny is a result of a failure to understand the implications of Edenic language in Scripture.|
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