God created us to live and serve in His presence, but our sin made us unfit for life in the garden.
I am fascinated by the thought of life in the garden of Eden before the fall. Scripture tells us, “The LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he placed the man he had formed” (Genesis 2:8). There, humanity once lived in perfect harmony and relationship with God. What was it like to have a clear conscience, no bills to pay, no broken marriages, no dirty politicians, no pandemics, no economies to collapse? What was it like to walk with God in the garden in the cool of the day?
Worship itself is a kind of simulation of returning to Eden. When we gather as the people of God in corporate worship, by the invitation of His grace to us in our Lord Jesus, we gather to walk with Him without condemnation or fear, without shame or regret, without hostility or envy, without anxiety or hopelessness. God created us to live in His presence as our first parents did before the fall—without any of those things that bring us pain.
But those things are present with us now because of sin. When Adam and Eve sinned against the Lord, they took on a sinful nature that’s been passed down to every last one of us since. The absence of one single perfect person apart from Christ Himself is evidence that this is an inherited condition. When God put Adam and Eve outside the garden, He set angels with flaming swords to guard the gate. As the late, great musician Rich Mullins said, “The Lord wasn’t joking when he kicked them out of Eden.” The image of those seraphs with burning blades had to have been a terrifying sight.
The severity of our separation from Eden was more than a separation from a place. It was a separation from a person—from God’s presence. We fractured our relationship with Him in such a way that we could not repair it. If humanity was to have any hope of ever standing within the confines of that garden again, it would be because we were not only fit for Eden, but for the presence of the Lord Himself. For that to happen, God would have to be the one to restore us. He would have to be the one to repair what we’ve broken.
When we think about the presence of God in the lives of His people, consider the miracle of redemption. Consider the magnificence of His restoring grace at work in our lives. Apart from His grace, our sin runs so deep that we cannot stand in the presence of God, no matter how hard we may try. But with His grace, the offense that set the angels with the flaming swords at their posts is not only pardoned; the offenders are restored to the kind of peace with our Creator that assures us that we will do one better than Adam and Eve. We will not walk with God in the garden in the cool of the day. We will sit at His banquet table as His beloved Bride in His kingdom forever (Revelation 19:6–9). All of this is by, and only by, the finished work of Jesus on our behalf.
Written by Russ Ramsey