The history of the work of redemption is a work that God continues from the Fall of man to the end of the world. There are three epochs within the history of the work of redemption. The first is from the Fall of man to the Incarnation of Christ. The second is Christ’s Incarnation to His Resurrection. The third is from Christ’s Resurrection to the end of the world. In the first epoch, God’s works are forerunners and earnests for the work of Christ during His Incarnation to His Resurrection. Since God’s works are for the purpose of Christ’s incarnate ministry, one may discern how the events, persons, and institutions of the Old Testament anticipate Christ’s work. In the following essay I will show how the Garden of Eden from the book of Genesis is a type that anticipates Christ’s work of uniting His people in the presence of God in heaven.
Before examining the type it must be defined. A type in the Bible is a person, institution, or providential act that reveals some aspect or aspects of Christ and His work of redemption. In Genesis, the Garden of Eden is a type of God’s house where He invites man to dwell in His presence. We learn in Genesis 2:8 that the garden is not the whole land of Eden, but a special place in the eastern part of Eden. In Ezekiel 28:13-14 the prophet tells us that the Garden of Eden was located on the holy mountain of the Lord. Mountains reach toward the heavens and are the closest earthly points to God’s invisible dwelling place in the Biblical cosmology. It is on a mountain where God meets with Abraham to stay his sacrifice of Isaac (Gen. 22), where God meets with Moses to give him the Law (Ex. 19), and where God has Solomon build God’s earthly house, the temple (2 Chron. 3:1).
Further evidence of the Garden of Eden as a type of God’s heavenly house is discovered in the construction of the Temple in 1 Kings 6 and 2 Chronicles 3. Into the cedar were carved buds and flowers and palm trees, overlaid with gold. There were wreaths of chainwork and pomegranates. There were precious stones ornamenting the house. In the holy of holies two cherubim guarded the ark of the Lord, where God’s presence dwelt. Only the high priest could enter the presence of the Lord. In the Garden of Eden was every fruit-bearing tree as well as gold and other precious metals. When the man and woman were removed from the Garden, God placed cherubim at the gate to guard against Adam and Eve returning. Like the High Priest, only the Son of Man would be able to enter God’s house to gain access to God’s presence and to receive eternal life for the people for whom He was the mediator (Heb. 9).
Both the Garden of Eden and the Temple are types of God’s heavenly home, and they represent unimpeded fellowship with God. After the Fall, that fellowship was impeded by sin, and so fellowship with God could only come through a mediator (High Priest) and offering for sin (blood, representing the life of the sacrifice). In Christ we see all of these representations converge. In Christ the fullness of the Godhead dwells (Col. 2:9), which makes Christ the true temple (Jn. 2:21), and the cornerstone of God’s house, into which His people are built (1 Pet. 2:4-5). By recognizing the Garden of Eden as a type of the glorious house of heaven, where the people of God are not only in His presence, but also united with Him in the Son, one learns of the greater glory of God’s plan and the purpose these Old Testament types serve in revealing God’s glory to His people.