In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. This as you know is the opening verse in Scripture, which represents the beginning of all creation. God in his wisdom and brilliance created this wonderful world that we see.
God also shaped and formed man from the dust of the ground and gave him dominion (Genesis 1:26). After creating man, the Bible tells us in Genesis 2 that God planted a garden in the east, in Eden, and put the man (Adam) into the garden he planted. Over the years many have wondered what the Garden of Eden represents and they have also questioned where is the Garden of Eden?
Let’s put on our explorer hats and look closer to understand the truth about the Garden of Eden.
What Is the Garden of Eden?
The Garden of Eden represented something more than just a location. For starters when you consider the term “Garden of Eden” in the original Hebrew language, you get the term Gan Eden which means Heaven or Paradise.
The garden represented a sinless paradise where Adam and Eve had perfect communion with God the Father. Many scholars refer to it as “Paradise Lost.” Yet, in understanding the Garden of Eden, you see God’s desire for the life of every man or woman he created. There are three things specifically to consider:
God created Adam and he gave him a specific task. Adam’s job was to work the ground and keep it in order (Genesis 2:15). In addition to fellowship with God, there was a reason for Adam’s existence. The same is true of you. God created you for fellowship with him, but he placed you here on earth because he has a specific task or assignment for you to accomplish.
God allowed Adam to eat from any tree in the garden. God was establishing a simple principle – it’s ok to enjoy the fruits of your labor or the works of your hands. God had a specific assignment for Adam but he also made provision so he could complete the assignment. God not only has created you for a specific purpose, he will give you provision so you can accomplish what he desires you to do. One of the benefits of doing his work is he allows you to share and enjoy part of the works of your hands.
The work was not back-breaking slave labor, but I believe Adam found pleasure in what he was doing. Remember there was no sin in the world, so nature responded in a perfect environment. He found pleasure in his pure fellowship with God and he also found pleasure in accomplishing what God desired him to do. It is the same with you. You will find ultimate pleasure when you complete the task God has created you for.
The Garden of Eden or Paradise Lost can give us a picture of what our eternal destiny in heaven will be like. In eternity we will continue to have a purpose. We will experience God’s provision and we will have the perfect pleasure of God’s presence unhindered by sin.
Where is the Garden of Eden Located?
If you are asking where the Garden of Eden is, you are not alone. Many before you and many after you will search for the answer to this question. The biggest clue to help discover this answer is found in Genesis 2:10-14:
“A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.) The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Ashur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.”
Scientists and scholars alike have used this information to try to pinpoint the exact location of the Garden. Many have tried to conclude that because of the mention of Cush (Ethiopia) or the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, the Garden was located somewhere between Ethiopia and the fertile crescent in the Middle East.
Unfortunately, what you will discover is that many come to the general conclusion that no one really knows. The Institute for Creation Research (ICR) wrote a compelling article about this topic entitled Where Was The Garden Of Eden Located? One of the main reasons we are not able to pinpoint an exact location is the changes in the world that happened after the flood.
It’s quite possible and highly likely that the flood changed the makeup of the earth. This could have affected the very location of the Tigris and Euphrates, meaning they may be in different locations then they were before the flood. This change has made it difficult for scholars, historians, and archeologists to know exactly where the Garden of Eden is.
While it is possible to speculate, I guess the truth is we will probably never know for certain.
Was the Garden of Eden A Real Place?
We know it is mentioned in Scripture but because it can’t be located, some may question if it really did exist? Quite honestly, there are plenty who will try to call the “story” of the Garden of Eden simply mythological lore. However, part of the problem with this idea is that God was specific in not only planting a garden but in doing it in a specific named location.
The garden was planted in Eden. Not being able to find where the Garden is located does not mean it doesn’t exist. Furthermore, the garden was referenced by the prophets in Isaiah 51:3, Ezekiel 28:12-13, 31:9, 36:35, and Joel 2:3. What we also see is that Revelation 22:1-3 mentions the tree of life which was located in the Garden mentioned in Genesis.
Jesus also mentions the tree of life earlier in Revelation. In fact, the tree of life that Adam was not allowed to eat from once he sinned will be the tree of life we will be able to eat from in eternity.
“Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7).
In the Septuagint (a Greek translation of the Old Testament) the use of the word paradise in Genesis is the same word Jesus uses in Revelation. God the Father mentions it in the beginning. Jesus mentions it at the end. This agreement is another reason to add to the existence of the Garden of Eden.
So, where is the Garden of Eden located? Honestly, no one has been able to lock down the specific location though many have tried. What we do know is Paradise Lost will become Paradise Regained. God’s plan of perfect fellowship and communion with those who love him will be realized again and this will last for all eternity.
Despite the various ideas and opinions regarding the Garden of Eden, there is one truth that matters more than any other. Will you be there to experience it? Regardless of the exact location and whether we ever find it or not, God has made provision so you can taste the fruit from the tree of life in eternity. Regardless of where it is let’s make sure you are one of the overcomers so you too can enjoy eternal life in Paradise.
Photo credit: flickr/faungg's-photos
Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, author and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He has spent more than 30 years serving the body of Christ in various capacities and has just released his first book, The Pursuit of Purpose. If you have ever struggled trying to find God’s will, this book will help you discover the different ways God leads you into his perfect will. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.