Thoughts about Eden make us look back and look forward. The beautiful garden where the first human beings were created is a symbol of a perfect beginning before sin shattered the creation. It was a protected place where God provided for every creature’s needs and had a face-to-face relationship with the man and woman, walking with them in the cool of the day. That Eden is gone. While the general location of the garden is indicated as the Tigris and Euphrates valley (along with two other water channels no longer functioning), all evidence of the paradise that was there has long been erased. The place exists, but the paradise is lost. What a fitting metaphor for the spiritual price we paid for the fall and the curse of sin. But a new heaven and new earth have been promised, an Eden-like place that will once again be the home of those who have been rescued from sin and given an eternal destiny with God.
Old Testament References
Apart from the opening chapters of Genesis and a passing mention in Isaiah 51:3 and Joel 2:3, Eden appears most often in Ezekiel (28:13;31:9,16,18;36:35). In all of these instance Eden is a symbol for paradise. It is the place where all was right in the world and everything was just as God had intended it to be. Eden is synonymous with perfection, with everything being the best it can be. Things are beautiful and fruitful there, with no thorns and difficulties to hamper daily life and no sin or shame to mar human relationships.
New Testament References
The garden isn’t mentioned by name in the New Testament, but three significant reminders of Eden can be seen as God unfolds a glimpse of the new heaven and new earth in the closing chapters of the Bible: the Tree of Life, the presence of God, and redeemed humanity (Rev 22). Every aspect of Eden, including rivers and trees, has been redeemed and re-created. And best of all, the close relationship between human beings and God has been rekindled as they see him face-to-face.
The angel showed me a river filled with the water of life, as clear as crystal. It was flowing from the throne of God and the lamb. Between the street of the city and the river there was a tree of life visible from both sides. It produced 12 kinds of fruit. Each month had its own fruit. The leaves of the tree will heal the nations. There will no longer be any curse. The throne of God and the lamb will be in the city. His servants will worship him and see his face. His name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night, and they will not need any light from lamps or the sun because the Lord God will shine on them. They will rule as kings forever and ever. (vv. 1-5)
Jesus hinted at this picture when he said to the believing thief on the cross, “I can guarantee this truth: Today you will be wight me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). Like the first man and woman, those who become citizens in the kingdom of heaven “may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city” (Rev 22:14). The paradise that was lost has now been reclaimed.
( THE A TO Z GUIDE TO BIBLE SIGNS & SYMBOLS Understanding Their Meaning and Significance Pg 86-87)