Editor’s Note: Today in our A Light Dwelling advent series, Jasmine Timm shares a beautifully written post about our created purpose — to tend a garden alongside God — and what happened when sin entered that garden. Jasmine reminds us how God provided a way, gave us a great Hope, that we will one day very soon return to live and to work in an eternal garden city as creation, darkened by sin, is restored by the Lord God, the Light of the world.
By Jasmine Timm
“I’ve finally realized that all I really want is to live a simple life and tend a garden,” a woman recently told me. I think she hinted at something profound regarding the human condition. As most people age, the desire for simplicity grows. The appeal of a busy life wanes, and the allure of grandeur loses its shine. As life crawls on, most of us are left with a longing for home, a simple, peaceful life with the ones we love. This is no accident. It is in our DNA.
The first human breath to fill the air took place in a garden. The world was filled with darkness, a vast, empty void, and then out of the silence came a heartbeat. God had crafted His image out of dust and set them — a man and a woman — in a garden.
This garden was special, like no other we have ever seen or tended to. It was a different type of garden because God Himself walked in it:
And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day…Genesis 3:8a
The Garden of Eden was a place inhabited by God Himself. It was the place He crafted by His own breath to dwell with the people He created. It was established as His kingdom, where He would reign as rightful King alongside those He graciously crafted to reign with Him. He created man and woman to be co-laborers of this kingdom, to help care for and tend to the garden and all the life that filled it. Under the care of their Creator, mankind was meant to care for the creation. It was a wonderful garden, far beyond what we could dream or imagine, and God Himself dwelt there among a sinless creation.
But tragedy entered the garden.
As God walked in the garden in the cool of the day, “the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden” (Genesis 3:8b). Why? Because they had welcomed the darkness offered by a crafty serpent, and this darkness tainted their own bodies and souls. Rather than relish the light of God’s glorious presence, the darkness beckoned them into shame and hiding. The garden was no longer the glorious home it once was to them.
The Garden of Eden was God’s original temple. Eden was a place full of light, where God’s glory lit up everything it touched. Darkness had no place in the garden, that is, until sin entered the world. The presence of sin in the world resulted in an anti-creation as the darkness spread and threatened to destroy all it touched. It disrupted holy relationships between God and humanity and between humanity and creation, and it required that newly stained people be cast out of the presence of the holy God. Tragedy struck the garden, and God’s glory appeared to be eclipsed by evil as man and woman left home to stumble in a dark land outside of Eden. But God was not surprised. In fact, He had a plan to enter into the dark land outside of Eden Himself.
As we saw last week, the first stage of God’s plan to re-enter into the presence of sinful humanity was in the tabernacle. He made a system for sin to be disposed of in order to once again dwell among His people. The people struggled to reciprocate God’s desire for connection and took for granted the fact that the God of the universe humbled Himself to dwell in a tent.
But God had more to His plan.
To replace the tabernacle, God provided instructions to King David for the construction of a more permanent building, the temple. This temple was built not by David, but by his son, Solomon (1 Kings 9:3). A great deal of the Old Testament is dedicated to describing the parameters for constructing the temple, and this is no accident. The care that went into the temple construction harkens back to Eden. Garden imagery filled the temple, reminding the reader of the original temple of Eden, where God Himself dwelled. The temple was the place where heaven met earth, just as the God of the heavens set His feet upon earth as He walked through the garden in the cool of day.
The temple was not a plan B or a haphazard fix to replace the tabernacle. It was part of God’s intentional design to draw humanity back into His presence, to provide a glimmer of hope for the great return to Eden. The temple in Israel had priests in place who were meant to keep and tend to the temple, just as we were created to keep and tend to the garden. It whispers of hope for humanity, causing us to lift our gaze in the darkness to see what God will do next in His restoration of the creation.
We learned last week that Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of the temple. He wades into the darkness, and through His incarnation, He establishes God’s reign on earth for good. He is the place where heaven meets earth. He is the first and final King who has come to establish a new temple priesthood to reign alongside Him in a garden restored to its original glory (1 Peter 2:9). It is in our DNA to long for a simple life in which we tend a garden. Yet, to our surprise, this life will not be simple. It will be glorious. We will be drawn out of the land outside Eden, no longer to stumble in the darkness. We will see God as He is, and when we see Him, we shall be made like Him (1 John 3:2). No more darkness staining our bodies and souls.
One day soon, the light of God’s glory will fill the renewed creation once more, and once again we will be able to tend a garden. We will be home all because our Immanuel has stepped into creation to restore it. It will be the garden city we’ve always dreamed of, a “simple life” of glory in a garden where Light Himself reigns.
And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.Revelation 21:22-27