Recently UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) named the “Garden of Eden” as a UNESCO World Heritage Site! The Huffington Post Headlines read, “Biblical ‘Garden Of Eden’ Becomes World Heritage Site”, so it must be true!
In southeast Iraq you’ll find the Chibayish marshes near the southern city of Nasiriyah. The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers feed this area and it is claimed that this is where the actual “Garden of Eden” from the Bible was located, or more accurately the place where the “story” of the “Garden of Eden” originated from.
This raises a couple of questions:
- Was there truly a “Garden of Eden.”
- Is this the site that it was located.
In this two part article series we’ll answer those questions, plus a few more.
First, we must understand that the way that we answer those two questions will be based very strongly on our “worldview.” And what I mean by that is that if you believe that the Word of God is true and Genesis is a historical account, then you will understand the evidence that we see in the world around us differently than if you believe that the Bible isn’t true.
What we have in the world today is not an evidence problem; it’s an interpretation of the evidence problem! We all have the same evidence and the evidence does not speak for itself! The evidence is always interpreted and our worldview impacts the interpretation. Remember the Media Correct: Mayhem! article?
Let me show you what I mean as we address the issue at hand. Here’s what we read about the Garden of Eden in God’s Word:
8 The Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. 9 Out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
10 Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers. 11 The name of the first is Pishon; it flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 The gold of that land is good; the bdellium and the onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is Gihon; it flows around the whole land of Cush. 14 The name of the third river is Tigris; it flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.
To answer question #1 let’s consider two important points.
- First of all, Genesis is written as historical narrative and not as allegory, poetry or myth. This would mean that what we read about the Garden of Eden was an actual account and not just a “Bible Story”.
- Jesus believed that Genesis was written as actual history. You’ll find 25 times in the New Testament where Jesus quoted Genesis. And, by the way, every time He quoted Genesis, He quoted it as actual, historical accounts! If Jesus can take Genesis as real history, you better believe I can regardless of what anybody else has to say on the subject.
That being the case, YES! The Garden of Eden was a real place. And because it is a real place we can understand why we see all of the craziness that we see in the world today.
God tells us that at the end of creation everything was VERY good. There was no death, no tears of sorrow, no suffering! When people want to challenge a loving God because of all the suffering we see in the world today we must let them know that it’s not God’s fault that we see the suffering!
What God wanted is what He gave to us. Perfection! BUT, in order to achieve true perfection, you and I must be given an opportunity to receive or reject what He gives us. In their case, it was life in a perfect place.
As hard as this may be to understand, from a biblical, historical account that’s what happened. Man rejected what God gave us and we’re suffering the consequences today because of it. And it’s not just Adam’s fault because all of us have rebelled against God. It’s called ‘sin’ and we’ve all done it.
The amazing thing is that while we were/are rejecting God, He loves us so much that He’s provided a way to be reconciled with Him. Man’s “real” rebellion in a “real” garden has had “real” consequences. But a “real” God came to earth as a “real” man, named Jesus. He lived a perfect life and then willingly went to a cross to die for our sins. Because of this, we have “real” HOPE!
Yes, the Garden of Eden was a “real” place. What are you doing with that truth?
But, what about question #2, has UNESCO got the location of the Garden of Eden correct?
In order to get that answer, you’ll have to tune in next time! Until then . . .
Carl Kerby is an inspiring, motivating and highly respected Christian speaker. With more than 20 years of ministry experience, Carl shares his extensive knowledge and understanding of God’s creation in his presentations, outreach events, books and other resources as the President and founding board member of Reasons for Hope, Inc.