WHERE IS THE GARDEN OF EDEN?
The Sacred Scripture declares that God created the heavens and the earth in six days and rested on the seventh day. Read Genesis 1:1-2:6. It also states that all of God's creations were “good”, which means that they were “fitting”, “suitable”, or “pleasant” to Him. Yes, the earth and everything therein were created in good condition. “For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God Himself that formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else” (Isa.45:18).
However, there was a place called Eden which God had formed. The whole earth was not Eden. Eden was God's “paradise”, God's “delight” and God's “pleasure”. Eden means just that. And eastward in Eden God planted a Garden which was more beautiful than any other place on the earth, even Eden itself. Genesis 2:8-16 records:
Most Bible scholars believe that the location of the Garden of Eden was somewhere in the Middle East. Well, that is true. But where is the Garden of Eden actually located? While some may speculate that it was somewhere in present-day Iraq, near the Persian Gulf, others believe that it was the area near the headwaters of the two rivers, Tigris (Hiddekel) and Euphrates. Because of the order in which the four rivers, Pison, Gihon, Hiddekel and Euphrates are listed in the Scriptures, those Bible scholars, who believe that the Garden of Eden was somewhere in Eastern Turkey, feel that Pison had to be the first and the northern-most river since Euphrates is shown on today's map as the last of the four rivers in the south of the Mesopotamian Basin. They believe that it flowed through the present-day Armenian S.S.R. and then turned southward through Western Iran and emptied itself into the Persian Gulf.
Beloved, I beg to differ. Eden and its Garden were not located in either of those two areas. No one could actually know where Eden and its Garden were located unless the Spirit reveals them to him. A common fact often overlooked by most Bible scholars is that the existing surface of the earth is radically different from that of the period before the Flood. Today's maps do not show us the original land surface of Eden, but we could pinpoint the original location of the Garden of Eden. The land surface of the whole earth was transformed in the days of Noah when all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows and floodgates of heavens were opened. And floods of waters burst forth and poured upon the earth for forty days and nights. With such a great deluge, which caused all the high mountains to be covered by the waters, it would be a great wonder if the land surface was not transformed. With the constant pounding of the torrential rain upon the mountains, hills, valleys, plains and rivers for forty days and nights, the original formations and settings of all the geographical landscapes would inevitably be altered. [Note: The earth is made up of different types of soil. Hence, with tons of water on the earth, earthshakes and earth movements were inevitable.] Some mountain ranges had either been reshaped or altered into plateaus or hills; some headwaters would have been shifted that the rivers began to flow on new courses; lands and plains would have become valleys or had become 'bowls' holding large amount of waters; and mountain tops of hard rocks might have become islands. As large areas were flooded with water, terra firma would be weighed down, pushed or heaved in different directions. Such movements in the earth structures caused mountains to be brought low and valleys to be raised up (cf. Isa.40:4). The Great Rift Valley which stretches from Syria to Mozambique is a good example of such land movement. The Red Sea which is a part of this rift is still tearing itself apart inch by inch every year. [Note: One of these days the boiling pot under the San Andreas Fault in California will erupt and cause a great earthquake that a vast proportion of land will slide into the sea. There will be great tidal waves and many small islands around the Pacific will be covered with waters for many days. The land behind it will undergo a transformation. There will be even greater changes at the Second Advent of Christ in the Day of the Lord (Zech.14:4-10; Rev.16:10-21) and when the earth is made new again (Rev.21:1-2).]
By the revelation given unto me by the Lord, let me establish the location of Eden and its Garden. Geographically, Eden was a vast location. Remember that the Garden of Eden was planted in the east of Eden. It must be relatively smaller than the area of Eden itself. There was one place befitting the description “God's Garden of Eden” — “paradise”, “delight” and “pleasure”. It was the Land of CANAAN. Hence, the area stretching from the north of Canaan to Turkey and from the south of Canaan to the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt and westward must have been Eden. The large river that flowed eastward out of Eden to water the Garden no longer exists today as most part of Eden had become a sea after the great deluge. The Great (or Mediterranean) Sea was most probably a large area of plains and valleys with many large lakes and rivers flowing into them. Its coastlines were originally ranges of hills and mountains. There were four “heads” into which a large river from Eden flowed eastward through the Garden and split up after flowing out of the Garden. But only the Hiddekel and Euphrates rivers are identifiable although their “heads” have been displaced in the region of Eastern Turkey.
Where the four rivers originally were are not very important. Just remember that there were four of them. However, let me try and trace where the four rivers were most likely located.
The large river of Eden which flowed eastward through the Garden divided into four “heads” when it flowed out of the Garden. The River Pison was the first to break off from its 'mother' and flowed southward, most probably, zigzagging downwards along the mountain ranges of the Sinai Peninsula towards the top half of the Red Sea and crossed the Nubian Desert southward. The second “head” thrust toward southeast along the mountain ranges of the Arabian Peninsula and downward into the land of Ethiopia. The Nile River and the Red Sea are part of the Great Rift Valley. They might have been part of the two rivers, Pison and Gihon. Geographically, River Hiddekel and River Euphrates might have flowed along the mountain ranges of Lebanon and Syria, with River Hiddekel flowing as far north as Eastern Turkey, before they meandered downward through the Mesopotamia and emptied their waters into the Persian Gulf.
CANAAN IS THE GARDEN OF EDEN
Throughout the history of God's dealing with His people, the Land of Canaan had always been His focal point. This is well supported by facts found throughout the Old and New Testament Scriptures. The “goodly mountain” was Canaan (Ex.3:8; Deut.3:25; 4:22). It was the “pleasant land” of milk and honey, and the “glory of all lands” (Psm.106:24; Ezek.20:6,15; cf. Isa.8:8; 62:4; Hos.9:3; Zech.2:12). The Scripture tells us that God had chosen only one place on this earth to put His Name, and that was Jerusalem in the Land of Canaan (2 Chr.6:6, Neh.1:9). Before Jerusalem was chosen, Israel could worship Yahweh at any place where they could build an altar to offer their sacrifices. However, since the day when God made it the chosen place of worship, Jerusalem had been the only acceptable place of worship for the True Worshippers. Offerings unto the Lord were acceptable only upon the altar in the temple ground of Jerusalem (Deut.16:2-6). THE HOUSE OF THE LORD was in the City of Jerusalem.
When the children of Israel possessed the Land of Canaan, they made certain cities as cities of refuge (cf.Num.35). Ancient cities were usually built with high walls around them to give its inhabitants security and comfort in times of troubles. A high mountain was an ideal place for building a good strong city. And usually the ruler would live in and govern from the city which was also the capital of his empire where all national and religious activities were centered. With this understanding, we should realize what kind of city Abraham was looking for when God called him out of Ur of Chaldees to the Land of Canaan. Abraham “looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb.11:10). Amen. “In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge” (Prov.14:26 cf. Deut.33:27; 2 Sam.22:3; Psm.9:9; 46:7; 48:3; 62:7; 91:2,9; 94:22).
Yes, Jerusalem was the place where God revealed His Presence and made Himself known to Israel, His chosen people, the natural seeds of Abraham. When God wanted to reconfirm His Covenant with Abraham, He commanded Abraham to take his son, Isaac, to “the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of” (Gen.22:2b). Since 691 A.D. the mountain peak of Moriah has been occupied by the Mosque of Omar, better known as 'The Dome of the Rock'. This is the place where the Temples of Solomon and Zerubbabel once stood in their respective times. The word “Moriah” bears these meanings: “high place, awe, light, Lord”. The Jews even believe that this place is located at the center of the earth and that it was here that light first shone upon mankind. And was it not so that the Shekinah Glory of God came shining upon Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden when God came to fellowship with them in the cool of the day, at evening time? (cf. Gen.3:8). The Psalmists have declared: “For the Lord hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it” (Psm.132:13-14). (Don't you notice the hidden mystery of the Spiritual Jerusalem?) Yes, the city, Jerusalem, on Mount Zion is God's habitation forever. The Psalmists (in Psalm 48:1-2) describe the holy mountain as “beautiful for situation” (“fair and beautiful for elevation” – Amplified) or beautiful in its loftiness. It was the “perfection of beauty” (Psm.50:2).
The Land of Canaan was the very place where the Garden of Eden was located and where Man had his beginning in an environment rich with the beauty of God's creations. God's relationship with Man began here. It is therefore obvious that God had chosen this place where He would deal with His chosen people and dwell with them forever.
Satan has caused much trouble in this place since the dawn of Man. Today, many religious and political conflicts are still prevalent in the land. It is certainly not what we would expect of a land that is “beautiful” and “pleasant” and which was supposed to be a delightful paradise. Yet, the Lord God had chosen that place to make His Presence known and to put His Name in the midst of it. God has allowed His adversary to somewhat 'hinder' His Divine Plan for a season that the Gospel might be preached to the Gentiles (Rom.11:24-25). But eventually all things will be fulfilled according to His Eternal Plan. Yes, I believe the Light of the Shekinah Glory will soon shine upon God's chosen people again in the midst of Israel – for the last time – to establish Itself there forever.