The following are my personal notes for a lecture I gave at a charismatic church in my hometown. It was part 3 of an 18 week series which studied Messianic pictures in the book of Genesis, and their implications to our understanding of the gospel and the kingdom of God.
“A River Flows From It”: The Garden of Eden and the Messianic Era”
Base texts: Genesis 2:8-10, Exodus 27:13, Ezekiel 47:1-12, Rev.22:1-5
So far we have looked at the presence of Christ at creation in the form of the Word, and co-creator with God. We’ve seen Him “hovering” over His creation, showing the picture of the time when the knowledge of Him will “cover the earth”. We have also seen the Light of the Messiah incarnate at creation, only to be concealed and substituted with the physical sun and moon and the earth, and to be revealed later.
Now, we will look at God’s redemption of mankind. After the fall of man, and the exile from the Garden, God begins the process of bringing us back to the place of innocence in Paradise.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.” (Matt.13:44-46)
PERFECTION AND PEACE IN THE BEGINNING
“The Lord planted a garden towards the East, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden…” (Gen.2:8-10)
The Hebrew literally says: “The Lord planted a Garden of Delight from the very beginning…”
“kedmah” = “kedem” (root word), = eastward
The east is always the direction of “moving towards God”. (The “near” and “far” view).
“Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever’, therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. So he drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.” (Gen.3:22-24)
In Judaism, the Tree of Life is considered a metaphor for the Word of God; the “supernal or inner Torah, or hidden Torah”. John uses this idea in his rendering of the “Word made flesh”, associating the Lord Jesus as the physical manifestation of the “hidden Torah”. Therefore, John equates Jesus with the Tree of Life.
“I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I give for the life of the world is My flesh.” (John 6:51)
THE PATTERN OF DELIGHT
“Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I am going to show you, (as) the pattern of the “tabernacle or mishkan” and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it.” (Ex.25:8-9)
Q: What is this “pattern” that the Lord is telling Moses of?
“And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven…” (Rev.14:17)
“The width of the court on the east side….” (Ex.27:13) Hebrew is literally “kedmah mizrahah” or “on the east toward the rising sun.” It is a pattern of “delight”, mirroring the delight of Eden and the Temple of the Messianic Era. This entrance was covered with a curtain made from the three royal colors; blue, purple and scarlet. It was in the court near this gate that judgments were rendered. The main entrance to Solomon’s temple was also from the east, and opened to a “hall of judgment” (1 Ki.7:7).
“kedmah mizrahah” also suggests the idea of “as far as the east is from the west”.
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (Ps.103:12)
“….if He were on earth, He would not be a priest at all, since there are those who offer the gifts according to the Law; who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for ‘See, He says that you make all things according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.’” (Heb.8:4-5)
CHRIST IS THE PICTURE IN THE PATTERN
Everything in the tabernacle had significant symbolic meaning. For instance, consider this verse from David’s Psalm:
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Ps.119:105)
The table of showbread and the menorah provide the light which shows the way to the Holy of Holies.
Showbread in Hebrew is “lechem panim”, meaning “bread of the presence” or “bread of faces”.
This is the concept behind the “soul mirror” in James chapter 1:
“For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:23-25)
The “perfect law” is the “inner” or “supernal Torah”; the “bread of faces”. James is talking about the “hidden Word” which was present at creation. This is the “law of Christ”.
Additionally, the author of Hebrews identifies the veil as Christ’s flesh. (Heb.10:20)
We’ve already seen that eating the Tree of Life gives eternal life (Gen.3:22). The Jews identify the Tree of Life as a metaphor of the Word or Torah. John says Jesus is the “Word made flesh”. Jesus says you must “eat his flesh and drink His blood”. (Jn.6:55-58). What is the ark?
The ark is (according to the pattern of the metaphor), the “heart” or “chest” of the Lord. What is in the Ark? Three things: The rod of priestly authority, the manna and the Law. So the Law is at the very heart of Jesus. He is, in fact, is the Law made flesh. He is the Divine Presence, or Divine Word, which is promised. He is the “hidden wisdom” revealed to the righteous.
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (Jn.14:15) Obedience to the Law is one of the signs of the New Covenant. (Jer.31)
THE TEMPLE IN THE MESSIANIC AGE
Exodus 40-48 deal with the Third Temple, which will be built by the Lord Himself upon His return:
“Then he led me to the gate, the gate facing toward the east; and behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the way of the east.” (Ezek.43:1-2)
“…this is the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell among the sons of Israel forever.” (Ezek.43:7)
The gate that faces east is the Golden Gate, which directly faces the Mount of Olives, where Jesus will return and gather his saints.
This gate is where the Messiah will enter the city upon His return. Also known as the Mercy Gate (Muslim) or Beautiful Gate (Acts 3:2). Many wealthy Jews pay large sums of money for the right to be buried near this spot as it is believed that the Messiah will resurrect them at His coming, with the blowing of the shofar, and will then rebuild the Temple. The Muslims centuries ago filled in the gate with 15’ of stone to prevent this. This is also where Jesus rode into the city on a donkey. From the east.
(Read Ezekiel 47:1-12)
“By the river on its bank, on one side and on the other, will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither and their fruit will not fail. They will bear every month because their water flows from the sanctuary, and their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing.” (Ezek.47:12)
“They will say, ‘This desolate land has become like the garden of Eden; and the waste, desolate and ruined cities are fortified and inhabited.’ Then the nations that are left round about you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will do it.” (Ezek.36:35-36)
“While many aspects of the (New Covenant) are partially fulfilled already, there are significant aspects of it that await complete fulfillment in (the) Messianic Age. The connection of this glorious age to the garden of Eden reveals (our hope) for restoration. God is faithful. When he promised he would bless the descendants of Abraham (Gen.12:1-3), the promise was unconditional, confirmed by this proclamation in Ezekiel”
- New American Commentary, Boardman Press, pgs.317-18
What we need to know: The New Covenant is not complete yet. Jesus completed our atonement for sin, and sent us the Holy Spirit as a down payment on the promises, but we are in the “restoration period” between the first and second advents of the Messiah. We still await the final redemption.
FAITH AND HOPE
Consider carefully the words of the great apostle:
“…You were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession…” (Eph.1:13)
The idea of being “sealed” is similar to being “hidden”. Paul elsewhere states our lives are “hidden with the Messiah in God.” (Col.3:3)
So once again we see the concept of God “concealing” or “hiding” something for a future time. He concealed the divine Light and withheld it for the Messianic age. He also hides the name of the Messiah. In the same way, after man is exiled from the Garden of Eden, the Garden is “concealed” or “hidden” from view. While it is often alluded to, it does not reappear until Revelation. In a similar way, our glory in Christ is also “hidden” or “concealed” but will be revealed by the Messianic Age, when we are transformed “in the twinkling of an eye”.
THE LORD’S RETURN
“In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley…..And in that day living water will flow out of Jerusalem….And the Lord will be king over all the earth; in that day the Lord will be one, and His name one.” (Zech.14:4,8-9)
“Hear O Israel, The Lord our God, The Lord is One” (Deut.6:4) The Shema
Remember the hidden name of Messiah in Psalm 72?
“Let them fear You while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.” (Ps.72:5) (acronym for mashiach)
Consider this messianic picture of the return of Messiah for his bride in Song of Solomon:
“Who is this that (looks down = Heb. Grows = Eng.) like the dawn, as beautiful as the full moon, as pure as the sun, as awesome as an army with banners? I went down to the orchard of nut trees to see the blossoms of the valley, to see whether the vine had budded or the pomegranates had bloomed. Before I was aware, my soul set me over the chariots of my noble people.
Come back, come back, O Shulammite; Come back, come back, that we may gaze at you!” (Song 6:10-13)
“The orchard of nut trees” in vs11 is considered in the Mishnah to be a veiled reference to the supernal Law or Torah concealed. It is also looked upon as a metaphor for the Garden of Eden. For our purposes, it represents the glory of Christ “hidden” within the shell of our mortal state, yet ready to be “harvested.”
From Jewish legend on Song of Solomon:
Replying to the great compliment given to her by the harem women, the maiden sheds a little more light on how she was captured and brought to Jerusalem after wandering into an orchard of nut trees near her home one spring. Before she fully understood what was happening, she had been spirited away to Jerusalem and was now facing a marriage to Solomon, binding her forever into the royal household…
WE MUST WORK TOWARDS THE KINGDOM OF GOD WITH PATIENCE AND OBEDIENCE
“…what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God…..Therefore, beloved……be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the scriptures, to their own destruction. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
THE INHERITANCE OF OUR PERSEVERENCE
- We will eat of the Tree of Life which is in the Paradise of God (the restored Eden) (Rev.2:7)
- We will have the hidden “manna” (Rev.2:17)
- We will have a new “white stone” with a secret name inscribed on it (Rev.2:17) (This relates to the stone of the breastpiece of judgment in Ex.28:29)
- We will rule with Him over the nations (Rev.2:26)
- We will have our names permanently in the Book of Life, and the Lord will confess our names before the Father (Rev.3:5)
- We will dwell forever in the heavenly temple and will have permanent citizenship in New Jerusalem (Rev.3:12)
- We will sit with the Lord on His throne (Rev.3:21)
- We will have fellowship with the Lord at His table (Rev.3:20)
FROM OLD TO NEW
“Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself. Yet He did not stretch out His hand against the nobles of the sons of Israel; and they saw God, and they ate and drank.” (Ex.24:9-11)
“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints…..Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” (Rev.19:7-8)
“And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God.” (Rev.21:10)
“Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. An there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.” (Rev.22:1-5)
TEACH US TO PRAY
“Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed by Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For yours in the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” (Matt.6:9-13)