Genesis 3 ends with Adam and Eve being banished from the Garden of Eden. That would be a pretty depressing end to the story, but the rest of the scriptures is a catalogue of how God chases his prized creation, humanity, and offers restoration. From the events of Eden unfolds the great biblical narrative of God working out the restoration of His people.
Where was Eden?
Genesis tells us that a river flowed through Eden and separated into 4 great rivers: the Pishon, the Gihon, the Tigris and the Euphrates. Despite these co-ordinates, Eden has never been identified by archaeologists or Biblical scholars. There may be any number of reasons for this. Perhaps the rivers altered course during the great flood of Noah’s time. Perhaps the water courses have changed for some other reason. We simply don’t know. But, just because it has not been located does not mean it no longer exists.
Reason for believing that Eden still exits:
Genesis 3 v24 is noteworthy: “After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.” The scriptures never say that God closed down or destroyed Eden. They simply state that sinful, blemished humankind was prevented from re-entering and eating from the Tree of Life.
When Jesus was crucified, two thieves were crucified alongside him. To one he said “today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23v 43) The word “today” is important. It stresses that it’s not at the end of time, but that very day the thief would be with Him. Paradise, by Jesus’ words is a present reality even if undiscovered by archaeologists. Paradise, of course is a name often used for Eden. It’s derived from a Persian word, “Paradaeza” and means an enclosed garden.
Re-entry to Eden.
We shouldn’t be surprised to see Paradise associated with the death of Jesus. The theme of Genesis is that humankind is made right with God through the sacrificial shedding of blood. Jesus is the ultimate and perfect sacrifice. He is the fulfilment of Genesis 3 v15: God’s promise that one day the offspring of Eve would defeat the serpent. Through his sacrifice there is no reason why humankind cannot be restored to perfect relationship with God. This is the greatest theme of all the scriptures.
The Tree of Life Today.
Revelation 21 and 22 describe John’s vision of the Heavenly City that God has created for his restored people. The description of the city in Revelation 21 is mind-blowing. Chapter 22 continues the description with the following words “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 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life….
A promise fulfilled.
Can I suggest to you that the Tree of Life remains in Heaven, Paradise where God lives and eagerly awaits His people’s return? The promise of restoration is fulfilled and entry to Paradise assured to those who believe in and accept Jesus’ sacrificial death. It is a gift from the Creator God.
Bible Quotations from New International Version