8 The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. 9 And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
10 Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads. 11 The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one which skirts the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good. Bdellium and the onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one which goes around the whole land of Cush. 14 The name of the third river is Hiddekel; it is the one which goes toward the east of Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates.
Genesis 2:8-14, NKJV
A Garden and a River
The beautifully poetic language of Genesis 2 continues in verses 8 and 9. We find that God planted a garden (the Garden of Eden). In this garden, He placed the man whom He had formed. Also in this garden God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.
In verse 9 we have the first mention of two specific trees: the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil: two trees with two purposes. As we continue through the book of Genesis the purpose of these trees will be brought to our attention.
Verses 10 through 14 are an aside. We pause in our history lesson to consider the river that went out from Eden. After leaving the Garden of Eden, it parted and became four riverheads. Those these rivers may not have a great significance to us in the 21st century, but we must realize that they certainly were well known to those who were the first who had the opportunity to read the completed book of Genesis.
The original readers knew of the River Pishon and Havilah, the land of gold, bdellium, and onyx. They were also familiar with the River Gihon, the River Hiddekel, and the River Euphrates. Why did God take the time to mention these four rivers and the lands they flowed through? It does not really seem to have any great significance to the narrative of the creation of Adam and Eve, does it?
Satan has made a great attempt through the centuries to discredit the whole story of Adam and Eve. Satan would lead us to believe that Adam and Eve never even really existed. As a matter of fact, there are many today who would tell us that Adam and Eve just were fictional characters used to represent the beginning of mankind.
Is this true? No! Adam and Eve really did live on this earth as God's first created humans. Those who first read the book of Genesis, though not able to locate the Garden of Eden, certainly knew where the four rivers were and the lands they flowed through. They understood that God was speaking of real events that really happened.
We tend to lose the significance of this in our own familiarity with the story of Adam and Eve. We must be very careful that we do not relegate them to the world of fiction. They were, indeed, real people. Just as the four rivers were real and the lands of Havilah, Cush, and Assyria were real, so were all of the events recorded in Genesis 2 real.
Of course there is much more to this story than the mention of a garden and a river. As we continue through chapter 2, the events will gradually unfold. We find that this garden became a temporary residence for Adam and Eve. Through the temptation of Satan and their resulting sin, Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden.
Is that the end of the story? No! By the grace of God, it is proper for us to think of our future in heaven and on the new earth that God will create as a return to the Garden of Eden. God created a perfect world for man to enjoy, which was destroyed by sin. When the new earth is created, we, as children of God, will live on that new earth forever. We will see wonders that we never saw on this earth which has been polluted by sin.
Let us, then, continue our walk on this earth in thankfulness to God who loves us so much that He has given us a way to escape from the sins which, left to ourselves, would destroy us forever. Through Christ, alone, we have joy, hope, and peace as we look for an eternity to come where we will live with Him forever.
What an amazing God we serve.
God Bless You,