As a kid growing up in a suburban area, our family never really did much gardening. My grandfather in Hendersonville, TN always had a small garden that he would work hard to tend and share the food that he grew in his garden with family, friends, and people in need. Every summer I would go to spend two weeks with him and we would work hard in his garden. I have never really developed a love for gardening but I certainly have great respect and admiration for those who work and enjoy the art of gardening. In God's Word, there are three gardens that are crucial to our understanding of the whole story of the gospel!
The First Garden (The Garden of Eden)
Genesis 3 records the story of sin in the first garden mentioned in the Bible. Adam and Eve, our original parents, sinned against the law of God when God gave them one simple law: "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." So this first garden records the tragic story of the human race and etches in the hearts of every person born since this garden a disobedience that leads to death. The Apostle Paul reminds us in Romans 5:12 "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:"
This first garden shows the depravity in the heart of the human race. Mankind in this first garden takes of the tree.
The Final Garden (The Garden of Paradise)
Revelation 22 describes a beautiful scene in the final chapter of the Bible. There is an eternal garden of God where there will be no death, no disease, no defilement, no disgruntlement, and no defectors. This final garden is paradise, it is what the first garden was meant to be. But this garden is perfect because it is the garden of God. It is the place where God Himself will allow no evil, there will be no temptation, it will be a place of perfect worship, harmony, unity, and glory! It is a place where the soul of mankind longs to dwell. This garden is a utopian paradise because God is ruling in this garden, there will be no competition for authority, honor, and worship; only true worshippers of Jehovah God will be in this garden thus it is paradise!
This final garden shows the delight in the heart of the human race. Mankind in this final garden is given of any tree he so desires!
The Middle Garden (The Garden of Gethsemane)
Sovereignly placed between the first garden in the Bible and the final garden in the Bible is the Garden of Gethsemane. It is this garden that links the other two gardens. The first garden represents disobedience, the final garden represents delight. The middle Garden represents the death of Christ. The only way to enjoy the final garden is to go through the middle garden. All have experienced the awful pain of the first garden, and all want to experience the pleasure of the final garden; you cannot enter the final garden without going through the middle garden!
In the first garden man bought into a lie and sin was inherited.
In the middle garden Christ resisted the lie and salvation was purchased.
In the first garden man fell into temptation.
In the middle garden the God-man believed God and resisted temptation.
In the first garden man rejected the will of God.
In the middle garden Jesus prayed "not my will but thine be done."
In the first garden man received a curse.
In the middle garden the Lord Jesus became a curse for us!
In the first garden man took from the tree.
In the middle garden Jesus Christ hung from the tree!
In the first garden man died.
In the middle garden the God-man died.
In the first garden man was condemned eternally.
In the middle garden the God man died temporarily.
In the first garden man died to never live again.
In the middle garden Jesus died, but three days later put death to death eternally by His resurrection!
The only way to enjoy the final garden of paradise is to go to the middle garden of agony and suffering and to accept the sacrifice of God for our transgressions from the first garden. As one songwriter wrote "I come to the garden alone.." If you are going to enter the final garden of paradise, you must personally come to the Garden of Gethsemane to ponder, praise, and receive the sacrifice of Jesus Christ alone. I love the unity of the Bible and the gospel as the whole story of Scripture unfolds in these three gardens! Although I never developed a love for gardening, I have grown to love telling the story of these three gardens that God gives us in His Word that gives the whole story!