In the beginning God put people in a garden,

Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” – Gen 2:8-9

In the new creation, God finishes all his cosmic plans by putting us in a garden,

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse.” – Revelation 22:1-3

In between the gardens of creation and new creation we have the tabernacle and the temple with their cosmic symbols:

In addition to the temple, we have Jesus. In John 1-2 is depicted as being the temple, where (as N.T. Wright points out) heaven and earth intersect. Jesus said his disciples would see angels ascending and descending on him (John 1:51). That is a reference to Jacob and his vision. And Jacob called that place Bethel which means the House of God. Later the temple was the house of God because it too was the place where God dwelt and the intersection between heaven and earth.

16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” 17 He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”” – Genesis 28:16-17

Jacob understood that the piece of ground he was on was the connection point between heaven and earth. That was the first rudimentary temple in principle.

Going back to John 1, Jesus said of Nathanael in John 1:47, “Here is a true Israelite in whom there is no deceit”

Israel was the name given Jacob and Jacob’s name meant “heal grabber” or someone who trips you up…as deceiver! But in this Jacob-man there is no deceit. There are lots of references to Genesis 28 going on here!

Then in John 2 Jesus says he will tear down the temple and rebuild it in three days and that in saying that he was referring to himself!

Then we have Jesus fulfilling that prophesy in his crucifixion and resurrection…and when he was raised his tomb was in a garden and the women confused Jesus for a gardener…much like Adam! Paul wrote in Romans and 1 Corinthians that Jesus is the new Adam – the first human of a new creation way of being and living.

None of these thoughts are original with me…they have been pointed out by people like G.K. Beale and Mitchell Reddish in their books on Revelation. They have been pointed out by people like N.T. Wright, John Walton, and many others. It is fascinating to think about all the connection points in the Bible on things like this – there are hundreds more that could be mentioned! God has a grand plan and he is pointing the way forward. The entire creation comes full circle into beautiful symmetry and cohesive unity! This is the God we serve. There is no one like him! He knows the end from the beginning and takes us by the hand and walks us into the beautiful future that awaits his people!

Leave a Reply