Why the Garden of Eden Is Also a Sanctuary and Temple of God

(Unsplash/ Aaron Russell)

Every believer is called to be a priest and a king. Our original purpose and eternal destiny is to minister to God with worship and prayer, and to steward the earth as a dwelling place of His presence and kingdom.

God originally put Adam in the garden in Eden to "tend and to keep it" (Gen. 2:15b, NKJV). This is actually the same terminology used to describe the work of the priests in the tabernacle of Moses! To "tend" means to serve or minister. They were there to "tend" to God and "keep" the tabernacle as a holy place of undefiled worship. When Moses wrote the book of Genesis, he knew the contemporary readers would see the parallels between their present-day tabernacle and the garden of Eden.

Theologians such as G.K. Beale have shown that we should also view Eden as a sanctuary or temple of God. Adam and Eve's mandate was not just to harvest fruit and vegetables in the garden. Their calling was to worship God and steward the garden as a place of God's presence, just as the Levites cared for the tabernacle. It wouldn't be too much of a stretch to think of Adam as a worship leader, not a gardener!

So when God commands Adam to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:22), He is giving humanity the mandate to expand Eden to the ends of the earth—to worship the Lord everywhere until the earth is filled with His glory (Hab. 2:14). This is our original purpose: to minister to God with praise and prayer and to steward the earth as God's resting place.

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In Christ Jesus, this calling as priests and kings is restored to the church. We are now called a royal priesthood (1 Pet. 2:5, 9)—a kingdom of priests unto God who will rule and reign with Christ forever (Rev. 1:6, 5:10). God's original purpose for humanity will ultimately be fulfilled through us, His people!

For more on how Adam was ultimately called to be a worship leader, not just a gardener, listen to the full episode of the Presence Pioneers podcast on the Charisma Podcast Network here.

Matthew Lilley is a worship leader, intercessor, Bible teacher and ministry leader with a passion for God's presence, extravagant worship and prayer, and a desire to see cities transformed by Jesus. He has served in national leadership roles in worship and prayer movements such as Burn 24-7 and Awaken the Dawn, and he founded Presence Pioneers in 2004 to connect, equip and plant presence-centered worship and prayer community.

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