Paradise

We were certainly given a break this winter in Indiana; the weather was much milder than usual. I don’t mind a bit of cold weather. The changing of the seasons is beautiful. My wife would disagree. She grew up in South Georgia where it rarely gets below freezing. She wouldn’t mind living in summer year round. Do you like tropical weather? Flowers blooming year round; no coats necessary. If you visit a climate like this, you might even refer to it as paradise.

This week, we are going to explore the first created environment for man and woman, Eden. What was this place like? Since they ran around naked or in fig leaves, the climate must have been warm. Was it paradise? That is an interesting word. In English, the word is not necessarily related to the weather.

paradise: a place or state of bliss, felicity, or delight (Webster Dictionary)

The word in Greek (paradeisos) includes the dynamic of bliss but refers more specifically to the surroundings. It literally means “an enclosed park”. It was often used to describe a garden. In the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) the English-tranlated word garden is rendered paradeisos. No doubt, there is a connection with the original garden (Eden) and paradise.

When Jesus is hanging on the cross, he says to the repentant criminal

(Luke 23:43) “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

So what is the connection between Eden and Jesus’ reference to paradise in Luke 23? Was Jesus referring to restored creation? Are those who place their faith in Jesus going to one day return to Eden? John describes the new heaven and the new earth in Revelation 22. The similarities with Eden are substantial.

When we compare our broken world to paradise, there is much to be desired. Eden seems more like a pipe dream than a reality. Yet throughout Scripture, we get hints of the restoration of Eden. While our world seems as far away from Eden as it ever has been, Jesus promises to restore, to make all things new. Join us on Sunday as we explore Eden; there is much to learn from initial dwelling of mankind.