2 – Better Than Eden

by Jill

Find out how Eden changes our lives and our future. Eden was to be like heaven where people work together to build their fulfillment and society together. But when sin entered human activity, the future of Eden and Earth changed.

https://www.nancyguthrie.com/even-better-than-eden

Transcript

[Music] Have you ever wondered how our journey started out in this great epic adventure of going from paradise to paradise?

That’s what we’ll talk about today.

[Music] Maybe that’s why God placed an angel at the Garden of Eden, to keep people away from the tree of life, not to prevent him from having something good would, but to protect them from something that had the potential to ultimately destroy the world.

Jodi Hedlund, come back to me.

Today we’re going to talk about the Garden of Eden, and we’re going to cover the book Even Better Than Eden, Nine Ways the Bible Story Changes Everything About Your Story by Nancy Guthrie.

I was intrigued by this book because it talks about what changed in the Garden of Eden and changed our walk in life in the Garden of Eden.

She points out that it’s interesting that the whole thing is in a garden because gardens are dynamic.

They change.

If you’ve ever had a garden, sometimes you have an area that just is blooming like crazy and is beautiful and other places that are withering away and this part sprouts in spring and this other part goes and fall, and people too are also dynamic and meant to grow, meant to really shine in the way that they’re uniquely created to shine.

And so garden and people have a good analogy to each other about what it meant to start off inside of a garden, or both meant to bloom.

When Christ came to accomplish what he meant to do, it’s not just to get back into the Garden of Eden to give us a home that’s even better than Eden, that will be better than the life that Adam and Eve enjoyed there.

We don’t think about it, but the Garden of Eden was not finished even at the time when Adam and Eve left it.

It was just starting out, the seeds were planted, things were growing and popping up.

It was a dynamic situation that was meant to improve, grow, and expand for all of eternity.

because of the short nature of Eden, it never had that chance.

Same thing with mankind.

It was meant to grow and expand and bloom and humanity was cut short too by that same piece.

But the one thing that we know when we talk about Eden is that it came out of a void.

It was formless, right.

That’s the beginning of Genesis 1-2.

Not only did God fill it with things, plants and everything.

But when I was walking around with my friend in this gigantic wild field, I realized that God creates systems too.

It’s not just about this flower and this animal and this thing.

It’s about this bee pollinating that flower, which grows into this fruit, which feeds this animal.

And then that animal is eventually eaten by this other animal.

The rain comes down, the whole winter comes back, the seed system falls again.

God created a system so that the world could be ever replenishing.

And not only that, but different things where there is life that lives in the cold and life that lives in the desert and life that lives almost in every different way and can adapt As things get colder as things get warmer.

The whole world is built into a system to thrive in whatever situations exist And when adam and eve were created they were given jobs.

They were supposed to identify the world They were supposed to rule over the world and We were created in that spirit of god with that creativity imagination thought and planning And she said, “God sees the emptiness in your life at the greatest opportunity because God does his best work with empty as he fills it with himself.

He filled the world with himself.

He filled us with himself too.

And so when we’re feeling that emptiness inside, that’s that chance for God to really take hold of us and allow us to become the full potential.

” in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had really great lives, a marriage.

They had everything they needed to be content and happy in this world with purpose, with every kind of fruit and every kind of thing that they could do except for one.

And this is where the problem came in, is that Eve allowed the perspective of the serpent to shape her perspective.

She She didn’t stand firm on what she knew to be true.

And inside of her, she wanted something more, but it wasn’t something better.

She was given better.

She knew good.

She knew purpose and all the things that God filled her with at the beginning.

But because she had that crevice of doubt, the serpent or the snake was allowed to get in there starting to ask her hard questions in a way that put doubt in her, that basically made her question the very thing that God told her, that she thought, “Maybe I will be more happy, more fulfilled, more satisfied if I have this thing I was told not to have.

” And it’s interesting too, because she probably should have known from the beginning that this serpent had nothing but bad intent for her.

First of all, none of the animals in the garden talked.

Secondly, the serpent was saying things that God did not say.

And that’s why I think it’s important in our own walk to understand what God really says about things.

When I read a lot of books that talk about the Bible or talk about what God wants, they take it out of context.

They don’t really know what it is God wants us to do.

And I wish that they would actually talk to a theologian when they did this.

I recently read this book about how to psychologically get over your fears and angers in life, and he slammed prayer.

But he never really talked to anyone who knew what prayer is, that knows that when you pray, it’s not about God being a vending machine.

But in this case, it wasn’t just about a misinformed person.

This was a person who was specifically saying key sentences, asking key questions to divert her.

So as discontentment rose in her where she started thinking, “Wow, I’m missing out on something.

God told me this, but I’m missing out on this other thing.

” That’s where things went really wrong.

That there was also the tree of life, not just the tree of knowledge.

And that is a tree that gives everlasting life.

But we wonder, why didn’t they ever eat from that tree.

That was never forbidden.

And it just may be that it hadn’t fruited yet.

Again, the garden was brand new.

But then when Adam and Eve were put out of the garden, an angel, a cherubim, was put in place to guard them, to keep them from it.

And the question is, is why would they do that.

And the answer may be because by eating of the tree of good and evil, now that sin entered their lives, with they ate of the tree of life, would that forever seal them as apart from God forever.

and that that issue of grace and the way back would never be open to them, almost like vampires living in this kind of condemned state.

And so in order to prevent eating from the tree of life and freezing us in that state, we will eventually eat from the tree of life, but not in that place and not in this state.

And the temptation itself is the same type of temptation that we see in our own lives all the time.

You always talk about when you’re trying to convince someone, they tell you to ask really good questions.

That splits people off from their opinion.

And that’s what Satan did.

He, one, took a lie, took something that was untrue, and used it as a question.

Well, God didn’t really say that, did he.

Tried to lead her into a bad place.

And then identified the one thing she wanted more than anything, and then started peeling her off in that same way.

It’s the same kind of temptation that Jesus felt in the desert when the devil told Jesus a lie, get Jesus to be discontent, except Jesus was perfect.

And so step by step, Jesus overcomes the very same temptations, one in the garden that tempted Adam and Eve, and then Jesus in the desert, and accomplishes the thing that Adam and Eve didn’t accomplish.

We can see that same pattern, and we see it ourselves when we’re ever tempted in faith, that the tempter is sometimes called the liar because he’s telling us an untruth about something we think is true, something we hope is true, but is not really true.

It’s completely severed from the key issue at hand.

And so when we see Adam and Eve being tempted, we can see that it’s really ourselves being tempted in that same way.

Someone mentioned about the Garden of Eden once, about whether it’s true or not, it’s a true story.

And the person saying it, he didn’t know, he didn’t believe that it was true, but he says it’s more important than true, it’s truth.

Because it’s so universal, the story itself is so important to each of us, it’s truth.

Meaning that when we get tempted to fall astray, to do the thing we’re not supposed to do, we’re being tempted in the same way that Adam and Eve are tempted, and we’re being tempted in the same way that Jesus was tempted.

Are we gonna do better and follow the example of Jesus, or are we gonna fall into the temptation that Adam and Eve both fell into.

And because of Jesus accomplishing all the things that Adam couldn’t, we’re gonna have that chance again to go into a paradise that’s beyond what Eden was, eat the fruit of life, just like we were always intended to be.

We’re gonna have a new garden, a new resurrection, and a new chance to live up to our fullest potential.

We think of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden as being a stagnant thing that it was created at the end point, but it was just created at the beginning.

There were worlds and cities and things to build inside this new world, and they just never had the chance.

In heaven, we get that chance.

But too, we feel disappointment, just like the disappointment Adam and Eve must have faced when they realized that they were being removed from Eden.

They were outside the gate, the angel was guarding the gate so they couldn’t come back in and there must have just been sadness, disappointment.

It’s the same kinds of sadness and disappointment we have when something we want to work out, something that we want to happen, something that we insist on having in our lives just doesn’t.

Her life, Eve’s life before this was meaningful, purposeful, and suddenly she was removed from it and had to find new meaning and new purpose.

Her life as a garden tender, as a world tender, was changed.

So was Adam’s.

And she mentions in this book then in Revelations chapter 2 verse 7, “To the one who conquers I will grant to eat the tree of life, which is the paradise of God.

” The tree of life is not simply something that was in Eden and now we lost our shot at it.

It is something that’s gonna stand in the middle of heaven and we’re gonna get to eat from that tree of life.

It is going to be our future and our never-ending glorious life.

We’re gonna have all the things that were promised in the beginning of Adam and Eve, we’re gonna have it forever.

And so that’s where they stand in contrast to each other, she says, that the tree of life was about forever living in paradise, but the tree of good and evil was about pretty much evil.

They saw good.

They lived with God.

They understood it.

They were beginning their path of them trying to decide what was evil, them determining what was good and evil when it was up to God to do it.

And it wasn’t even so much, she said, that God was keeping something from them.

He was preventing them from having something they were not prepared to have.

That’s something that only God himself understood the true evil that could exist in the world.

And knowing that if they ate from it, it would open that world to them when they were not prepared to have that world, when they shouldn’t have that world.

And you can see, I think that in our modern times, when people make the evil choice, people make the bad choice.

You see someone and you hope they do the right thing.

We hope that they do the good thing and then they don’t.

That is the influence of evil in our world.

And that is the influence of people deciding that they can determine what is good and evil.

Because most of the time when people determine what is good and evil without depending on God, they pick wrongly and it hurts everyone else around them.

And so the interesting question is, she said that the tree of life was meant to be a reward, but the tree of good and evil was a loyalty test.

And I think of it as a doorknob to the exit.

You can say that we want to be a free people.

When God created us, he wanted to have free choice, free will, and the ability to say no to him.

that ability, we’re just little robots.

And that’s no fun.

Have you ever talked to a chatbot on the internet.

You know they’re not real.

And it’s not a true experience you’re having with another person.

And if we didn’t have the ability to choose things, basically third rate chatbot is all that we would be.

We would just repeat back to God exactly what he wanted to hear.

And that’s not love.

That’s not creativity.

That’s not the intelligence and joy of creation.

that God has in himself that he gave to us.

And so while we don’t know, and it’s certainly gonna be exciting to ask God in the end, why is there a tree of good and evil in the garden when we weren’t supposed to eat from it.

I think in the end it was an exit.

I think it was that ability to say, “No, I’m gonna do it my way.

” And we can see what my way often leads to.

War, disease, and pain, and suffering, When God never wanted any of that for us, but we picked it for ourselves We even see in our own ways that we’ll see that God tells us something, you know in the Bible do this Don’t do that act in this way treat each other like a brother, you know All the things that God asks us to do and we say I don’t really see the point in it or there’s no harm If I just do this one thing, there’s not a problem here if I decide I’m going to do something else instead.

And that’s where it becomes a problem.

When we decide that we can make decisions better than God, when we can decide and justify whatever it is we want to do.

I always wondered in the back of my head if there’s really only one sin in the world, and that sin is, I know better than God.

Whatever it is that God tells us to do, gives us the life we’re supposed to live.

When we say, you know what.

I think I know better.

I think I can decide between good and evil.

I think I can pick what’s right and what’s wrong.

Maybe that’s the only sin there is, is saying I know better.

And yes, when Eve ate of the tree of good and evil, she did know the truth.

She did see evil for the first time.

She did have that choice to now pick evil over good.

And that’s the part that was supposed to be spared from them.

It’s not that God was preventing us from something that’s awesome and great, and boy, wouldn’t that be cool if we had it.

He was preventing us from having something He hoped we would never pick.

He hoped that we would never eat.

He hoped that we never choose evil over good, but yet we do it all the time.

And she saw the tree, she saw the fruit, and it appealed to her.

It was a delight to the eye.

Wouldn’t it be great to know the things that God knows and make these decisions for myself.

It sounds so easy and so simple.

And she said, “Sin is always reckless and foolish, and it never makes sense in the light of day.

It always takes away rather than adds to our lives.

It destroys rather than creates.

” And we wish, you know, I wish that Eve wouldn’t do it.

I wish I wouldn’t do it either.

We want to follow the good path, and yet we think we can do better.

When we give up what God told us to do, it always ends in a bad place.

And it always means that we’re basically putting ourselves in the place of God and determining what we want, what we think is right, what we think we should do.

And how many times is it not the right decision.

She thought it was interesting in general that a lot of times when the apostles talked about Jesus, in 1 Peter 2:24, “He bore our sins in his body on the tree.

” And a lot of times when they talk about it, they talk about him being on a tree.

Acts 13 29, “They took him down from the tree and laid him on the tomb.

” Isn’t it interesting, she feels, and I think too, that we failed at the tree of good and evil.

And Jesus died at the tree.

When Mary came upon the grave of Jesus and asked if the person who was inside, if he was the gardener, Because Adam and Eve were the gardeners, that it all comes back to a garden, it all comes back to a tree, and those same parallels happen.

Jesus accomplishes the same thing in the garden that Adam and Eve didn’t accomplish.

We were built into the image of God, but now that image is tainted and altered because of the choice that they made.

Jesus, on the other hand, is the perfect image of God.

And when we meet him in heaven someday, we’ll be a man the same way he was a man on earth.

And so, in the end, we don’t really know when it comes to Eden, how it would have progressed.

It got cut short.

There probably would have been clothes, there would have been buildings, it would have been cities.

Was there going to be new plants and new gardens and science and all the things that we have today, but just made impurity, perfect marriages, great jobs.

She mentions that God created the Sabbath and rest for us.

And what do we do.

We just press ahead all the time.

I grew up with a Jewish grandmother and she tried, even though I don’t think she really believed it in that same faith way, to keep the Sabbath.

It was for her more of a cultural activity.

So then she took her 10-year-old granddaughter and tried to teach her the Sabbath.

“Now just sit here and do nothing.

” I’m like, “Nothing.

Well, you can read a book.

” I like books, but me as a 10 year old was squirrely and I could not just sit there and rest.

And to be honest, I still find it difficult to rest.

But I think what’s interesting is I see more and more people talking more and more firmly about having a Sabbath, even if they don’t mean it as a religious concept, but that idea of just having a pure rest, of being with each other and not working or not striving all the time and taking that joy in the things we built the other six days and then resting.

Squirrely Jill as a 10-year-old didn’t do very well with it and I don’t think we do very well with it now, but maybe we need to learn how to do better.

For one day, can we put down our toys, she wonders, put down all her amusements, all the things we have, and take up the invitation to be seated with the people we love and to be seated with God and just enjoy our time with Him.

It’s hard for me, I will tell you, that is not where I usually like to go.

I like to be doing something almost every minute of the day.

Even when I watch TV, it’s funny, someone was talking about TV.

You know I never watch TV.

I am always doing something while I’m watching TV.

If I’m just sitting there and watching TV, chances are I’m sick, something’s wrong with me, or I’m just exhausted.

But it doesn’t happen often, and if someone needs to learn about the Sabbath, or what they called at the time the Lord’s Day, it’s probably me.

She says we take a look at it and we think it’s a restriction about how we’re going to use a day, instead of a pleasure or satisfying rest, or just being in the presence with God.

We go to church on Sunday and we look at our watch.

Boy, I will not tell you how many times I look at my watch.

Again, squirrely Jill just can’t sit and rest, but I could do a little bit better about that.

But that was a gift that was given to us in Genesis at the creation of the world, and we could do better to learn about it.

She talks about how it’s sanctification, meaning that it’s a separation from the rest of the world, that we are people who rest.

And it reminds us that God puts everything in order, and we too can take that day of rest and put it in order for ourselves.

So overall, I thought this was a really interesting book.

It talked about what we’re gonna get out of Eden and the things that we lost along the way when it came to that ability to create without that leaking in of sin, that ability to rest without being squirrely, that ability to walk with God when now we have to reach out to God in prayer and don’t see him walking next to us like we would have had we been in the Garden of Eden.

But all of those things that we miss, that we lost, are returned to us in the act that Jesus did the same pathway and instead of failing, succeeded.

And that will bring us back in the end to home.

And that’s where we’re gonna talk about our podcast next week, Home.

Where are we going to on this great journey.

So my challenge to you is to think about how you can do better when it comes to Sabbath.

And I’ll think about it too.

What can we do on God’s day to give ourselves that true closeness with God, that true rest that he meant for us to have after our six days of creating and thinking and doing all the amazing things that humans can do.

All right, everyone, thanks so much.

I appreciate you listening to the second podcast, In Small Steps With God.

And I hope that you like the podcast.

Subscribe to it, tell a friend.

Again, it’s starting out, and every time you start out a podcast, I learn that it can be a little clunky at first, but I’m getting my sea legs under me and we’re gonna make this podcast great as we explore our journey to God together.

And just remember that we can start walking on our journey towards heaven with small steps.

(upbeat music) [MUSIC].

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