Of the men of the Bible two knew what it was like knew what it was like to have a personal, untainted, unobstructed relationship with God himself. One was Jesus, the Son of God. The other was Adam.
Adam experienced life in Eden-a name that’s become synonymous with paradise, and for good reason. Eden was God’s showcase. On display in this garden paradise was nature in perfect harmony, as the Creator intended. Genesis 2:9 says God filled the garden with trees that were “pleasing in appearance and good for food.” Imagine the beauty, the wonder, the divine artistry that Adam enjoyed.
God gave Adam the responsibility of working the garden and caring for it. But this was not a burdensome task. Based on how the nature of work changed later as part of the curse (Gen 3:17-19), we may assume that Adam derived deep satisfaction and a sense of fulfillment from his work in the garden. It’s very likely that his God-given responsibilities meshed perfectly with his gifts and abilities.
God told Adam to “rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth” (Gen 1:28). He brought every animal and bird to Adam to be named. Whatever Adam called each creature became its name.
Only Adam could explain what it was like to live on earth with only God himself and the animals as companions. Only Adam could describe the experience of waking from a deep slumber to find his female counterpart-his perfect companion and complement-next to him.
Adam walked with God-not in a metaphorical sense, but in a two-friends-taking-leisurely-evening-strolls-together way (see Gen 3:8). Adam enjoyed God’s company, and God enjoyed his.
Adam experienced a clean conscience. He knew what It was like to be naked and unashamed. Such was life in Eden.
Ultimately, though, Eden was not enough for Adam. The one rule God put in place- “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Gen 2:17)-proved to be too restricting for Adam, He let temptation get the better of him. Along with his wife, Eve, he disobeyed God and ate of the fruit.
And everything changed in an instant.
Genesis 3 describes the consequences of their actions. “This eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked” (v 7). They experienced guilt and shame for the first time.
Then when God came to walk in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, Adam didn’t join him. Instead, he hid from his Creator, his Sustainer, his Father. Never again in his lifetime would Adam be able to interact with his heavenly Father unashamedly.
The punishment for Adam and Eve’s sin altered the human experience. Among other things, the work that had once brought pleasure and fulfillment would become difficult and painful. And with the ideal of Eden corrupted, Adam and Eve were evicted from the garden. For the rest of their lives, they were forced to make their way in an inhospitable world.
More devastating than all of that, though, was the transformation Adam experienced in his relationship with God. Guilt and shame eroded the innocence that had once marked Adam’s life. Bitterness and hard-heartedness followed until the ideas of Eden were nothing but a memory. Intimacy was lost.
In addition to guilt and shame, Adam wrestled with unimaginable regret for the rest of his life. Genesis 5:5 says that “Adam’s life lasted 930 years.” For over nine centuries, then, he was left to wonder what might have been.
The good news is that God took the steps that human kind could not take to restore the relationship ruined by Adam’s disobedience. In his unfathomable grace, God sent his Son to pay the penalty for Adam’s sin-and for the sins of every one of Adam’s descendants. Jesus’ death and resurrection make it possible for believers to stand before God uncorrupted, as Adam did, and to have a personal, intimate relationship with him.