COME TO THE GARDEN
By Dan Luehrs
Gardens are wonderful places; millions of people frequently visit public gardens and parks throughout the world. Just the name alone conjures up feelings of warmth, welcome, and peace. In fact, I have never heard of anyone not liking a garden of some type. Near where I live in Florida we have gardens called: Busch Gardens, Bok Gardens, Sunken Gardens, Botanical Garden, and Cypress Gardens, just to name a few. To be in a flower garden is to be surrounded by the natural beauty and life that invites people to come and adore its ever-changing decor. There are not two gardens alike in the world because there has never been two people alike that have created one. What one person considers being lovely, another would like to see something totally different in the same place. But no matter what ones taste is, gardens take much time and work to plant and cultivate, and I guess that's why so few people have gardens at their homes. We are just too busy with the things of life to take care of one and enjoy it.
"And the LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed" (Genesis 2:8 NASB).
God also likes gardens. In fact, it was He who created the first garden in Eden that He had placed man into for his good pleasure. "Eden" means, "delightful or pleasure," and I guess that's what gardens are, delightful! God, Himself enjoyed this garden so much that He walked through it with the man that He had created it for, "And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day…" (Genesis 3:8 NASB).
One of Jesus' favorite places was the garden of Gethsemane. The place was so well known to His disciples that Judas knew exactly where to find Jesus on the night that he betrayed Him. "When Jesus had spoken these words, He went forth with His disciples over the ravine of the Kidron, where there was a garden, into which He Himself entered, and His disciples. Now Judas also, who was betraying Him, knew the place; for Jesus had often met there with His disciples" (John 18:1-2 NASB). It is interesting to note that Jesus had to cross the brook Kidron. "Kidron" means, "a dark and gloomy place" that He had to cross to get to Gethsemane. "Gethsemane" means, "oil press." This was the place where the pressure on Jesus was so overwhelming that He sweat as it were great drops of blood. We, also, will have to go through some dark and trying situations for us to enter our own Gethsemane; our place of great pressure and dying to self as I have learned in my own life experiences.
Preston Eby wrote regarding the garden:
"Now in the place where He (Jesus) was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new tomb wherein was never man yet laid. There then because of the Jew's preparation (for the tomb was nigh at hand) they laid Jesus" (John. 19:41 KJV).
"Of this "garden tomb" we further read, "When even was come, there came rich man from Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple; this man when to Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded it to be given up. And Joseph took the body, and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out the rock; and he rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb, and departed" (Matthew 27:57-60 KJV).
We find by the Word of God, that in the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden belonging to a rich man named Joseph. That this garden was carefully tended is implied by Mary Magdalene mistaking Jesus for the gardener. In this garden, according to a custom of those days, Joseph had hewn out for himself a tomb in the rock; and in this tomb, upon a bed of spices most fragrant and costly, Joseph laid the body of our precious Lord. Let all men take note that it was in a GARDEN, overshadowed by darkness that cover the whole land, amid the quaking of the earth and the rending of the rocks, that Jesus Christ, the second Adam, died. It was amid the opening of tombs, from which rose many of the saints who had fallen asleep, that He ROSE FROM THE DEAD! And I can declare to you that when He arose on that glad morning He brought up with Him out of spiritual death all who believe on His Name throughout all ages; and He gave unto them eternal life. Death came through the first Adam in the Garden of Eden, and eternal life came through the second Adam in the Garden of the Cross-and of the Tomb.
In order to open the way into the greater Garden of the Lord, or the Kingdom of Heaven, our Lord went through two gardens. The first was the Garden of Gethsemane, in which He rose concerning the last garden, which is the Garden of the Cross-and the Tomb. In the last, He finished the work, which would open the Kingdom of Heaven to all, that would believe on His Name. It was in the Garden of Gethsemane that He chose that the will of the Father should be done and naught else.
Man began in a Garden. He sinned in a Garden. He died in a Garden. He was driven forth from the Garden. Jesus came. He passed through two Gardens. He opened up the third Garden. The third Garden is the first Garden. As the first Adam died in the Garden (of Eden), so the last Adam entered into death in the Garden (of the Cross-and Tomb). The first Adam brought forth death out of life in the Garden while the last Adam brought forth life out of death in the Garden." - (End of Quote).
Even though God created the garden of Eden perfectly in the beginning, Adam still needed to cultivate and protect it from intruders. "Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep (guard) it" (Genesis 2:15 NASB). God knew there was going to be trouble in paradise and that the enemy of our souls wanted to destroy this new place of fellowship between God and man. Yet the saddest news in the whole Bible is that God had to drive man out of this place of fellowship with his God because man did not guard it as he was told to. "So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life" (Genesis 3:24 KJV). Man now was turned away from the path to the tree of life that he once was on. He is now enslaved to sin and death, and only through the cross of Jesus can get back on the path of life again.
We must understand that the garden represents man in the presence of the life of God! Man with the incorruptible life of God available to him, even as we today have life through Jesus, the Tree of Life. Since God drove man from the garden of life, it could now only be God Himself who opens up the way for man to enter back into life to be made a partaker of the divine life! "No man can come to Me, except the Fathers which hath sent Me DRAW HIM" (John. 6:44). -- Again, "And I, if I be lifted up (on the cross) from the earth, will draw all men unto Me" (John. 12:32).
You may have said to yourself, "Boy, I wish I could have been in the garden of Eden with God." I have good news for you, you can! God has prepared a private garden just for Him and you!
THE GARDEN OF YOUR HEART
"Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me" (Revelation 3:20 NRSV).
God has now prepared this marvelous garden inside each one of us, so that we might have fellowship with Him at any time or place! Satan tries to duplicate the garden of God through yoga or eastern meditation, but he fails greatly! We, as the people of God, must learn how to open the door of our heart to have fellowship with Jesus inside of us, because now the kingdom of God and His garden abides inside our heart. The old hymn, "I Come to the Garden" catches the pleasure of us being alone with God in our garden. "I come to the garden alone, while dew is still on the roses; and the voice I hear, falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses. -- And He walks with me, and talks to me, and tells me I am His own, and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known." Only God and you alone know the pleasures of this secret place.
In the mid 1980's I learned of this garden as I was seeking the Lord, and now I try to enter it daily. Even though I must admit that I really did not know then what I had found, I knew I liked it and wanted to spend as much time there as I could! I began to seek the Lord in the evenings after work for two hours of worship and reading my Bible. This was strange for me because I was used to being so busy doing many other things that I enjoyed. But once I opened this door, entered the garden, and began fellowshipping with God in spirit, I had to enter again and again. Then He began to teach me His ways. I did not want to do anything else in my extra time but seek Him. It was almost like being in another world, and in fact it was. It was His world and all I had to do was open the door of my heart and He came in to fellowship with me! It was, and is a place of wonder of wonders, as if I had entered a new room. I would say to myself, "What is this place?" Yet, all I wanted to do was gaze upon Him and this heavenly realm. It had ruined me from enjoying worldly things. Even people in my church thought I had gone nuts, because I would not play softball or go to week night services or be a deacon or teach a Bible study because I felt this was God's will for me, to spend time with Him. I just wanted to be with God and sit in His presence and look upon His glory that I was now seeing so clearly. I didn't fully understand what was happening to me, I only knew that this was a place of peace and joy like none other. Yet it was a dark and costly place to enter, even as Gethsemane was. It was a place of being humiliated before Christian friends and family members because they did not or could not understand me, and would make fun of me and fight against me. "My beloved (Jesus) has gone down to his garden (us), to the beds of balsam, to pasture his flock in the gardens and gather lilies" (Song of Songs 6:2 NASB). Many years later a friend of mine would call me and say, "I now know what you meant when you told me about being alone with God! It is so wonderful and I now understand what you were doing down in your basement for those many years." I had truly found the garden of the Lord and His "beds of balsam" (fragrant spices). But oh the fight to get there! But oh, the joy that fills my soul!
We must open the door of our heart to have fellowship with Jesus. He will not make us seek Him. "For the gate (door) is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life (the tree of life), and few are those who find it" (Matthew 7:14 NASB). -- "But you, when you pray, go into your inner room (your heart), and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret (being hidden), and your Father who sees in secret will repay you" (Matthew 6:6 NASB).
The only way for this door to be opened is from the inside of us, for us to have true fellowship with God in spirit. He will not open the door to His treasury of truths if we are selfishly seeking to promote ourselves in any way. We must take the initiative to go down into the garden, which is a place of humility for our flesh and before our family and friends that know what we are dong. "My beloved has gone down to his garden." Just think how much He must humble Himself to come into us. Is it too much for Him to ask that we humble ourselves before Him and others? For when we come into His garden, it has a river flowing through it. This waters all those who come and humble themselves to the lowest level because that is where the waters of the Holy Spirit flow freely. This gives us great incentive for us to humble ourselves before Him so that we will never run dry. Water always flows to the lowest level. "And a river went out of Eden to water the garden…" (Genesis 2:10 KJV). David knew and partook of this river that flowed through the garden to quench his thirsty soul with its pure flowing waters. "As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for Thee, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God?" (Psalms 42:1-2 NASB).
We must do a better job of cultivating the weeds of sin out of our lives and guarding the garden of our heart than Adam did. The enemy of our soul will try to get us to walk in sin so that our fellowship with God is broken. He will fight us on this front of spending time with God more than anything else, because he knows that if we are spending time with God, we will be growing in the likeness of Jesus. Whomever we spend time with, we will become like. The devil will use friends, family, busyness, and many other distractions to keep us from spending time with God. But we must fight against his schemes. A.W. Tozer said, "Whatever keeps me from my Bible is my enemy, however harmless it may appear to be, whatever engages my attention when I should be meditating on God and the things eternal does injury to my soul." Amen! We are called to walk with God in our garden so that He can teach us His ways. What could be better in life than this?
"A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse (bride); a spring shut up, a fountain sealed" (Song of Songs 4:12 KJV).
Wade Taylor speaks of this verse in his book, The Secret of the Stairs: I quote,
"The Lord made an arrangement where she became as "a garden inclosed" SS 4:12a. Here, she was separated for a time from material influences and outside activities, unto the Lord Himself. During this time of separation within the garden, all that she had come to know about the Lord will become personalized (made personally real) within her spiritual experience. Then, in His time and place, that which she has become while within the Garden will find its full expression and outworking through her daily life experiences. She is about to experience what the Lord meant when He said, "Buy of Me gold tried in the fire" Rev 3:18b.
This "Garden inclosed" was designed to bring forth the very best from the potential that the Lord had seen to be within her. It was situated in a very beautiful setting. However, it represented a realm of intense "personal dealings," so she hesitated in entering. The Lord knew she would attempt to leave before He could accomplish all He desired within her. He therefore built a high wall around the garden, making it completely enclosed so she would not be able to leave. The Lord is able to keep us where He has placed us.
This high wall also hindered all, except the Lord, from entering. It separated her from the fellowship of her friends, and from those who would attempt to occupy her time. Also, during this set-apart time, her gifts seemingly failed to operate, and her "ministry" was cut off. Now, she was separated from all of the people and things, which she had become accustomed to and dependent upon in her spiritual life. She became as a "Garden inclosed," separated unto the Lord Himself.
The nine plants (SS 4:13-14) that are mentioned as being in this Garden are types of the nine-fold fruit of the Spirit. These represent the "quality" of life which is beginning to develop and become manifest within her, during this time of separation. The Garden in bloom speaks of the spiritual maturity now unfolding within her, a beautiful display of righteousness, peace, and joy, as she grows in spiritual understanding and wisdom. During this time of being set apart, there was often a desire within her for expression, or ministry: "If I just get out and share this." But the Lord had made her a "Garden inclosed."
Through being shut in by the Lord for a season, she became more sensitive in her ability to recognize His presence, and was able to respond more promptly to His desire for her fellowship. We were created for His pleasure (Rev 4:1 1). There are times when the Lord desires to be personally alone with us, that He might sup with us, and then we with Him (Rev 3:20). This will lead us into the experience of the "fellowship of His sufferings" Phil 3:10b, as He shares His burdens with us.
There are other areas of separation. There are those who are called to a ministry of intercession. Being an intercessor requires much more from us than our times of prayer. It involves our becoming identified with the problem, or need, in order to pray it through. Intercession is born of the Spirit and operates through inner travail. It means getting alone and wrestling with a burden until it is brought to birth through the agony of birth pains. A ministry of intercession is effectual and is worked out in the prayer closet, alone with the Lord. There are those who are called to this hidden ministry of intercession who are not known to man, but known only to the Lord, and have become as a "Garden inclosed" to Him.
There are others who are shut in with the Lord in hidden ministries, who have had a part in bringing to birth many lives. Some of these had a part in the forming of my spiritual life. During times when I was going through some very intense struggles, through the agony of their intercession and prayers, God was able to accomplish something special within me. Without them, I could not be where I am today. There is great responsibility and reward in a hidden ministry of this type. The Lord is looking to and fro across the earth for someone to "stand in the gap;" someone who will stand between the need and the Lord, and then travail until the Lord is able to move upon the situation and accomplish His purpose.
There are those whom the Lord leads into this "Garden inclosed" to remain there. Some of the Lord's choicest saints are separated from the world and enclosed within this Garden, that He might come to them as He wills, to enjoy times of fellowship and communion. The extravagance that the Lord expressed in His creation is evident to us, which we all enjoy as we witness the manifold and multi-colored flowers of spring, and then the rich brilliance of color in the departing leaves of fall. So also, He can afford the luxury of being extravagant in setting aside "whom He will" for His purpose and glory. Thus, within this "Garden inclosed" are those who are so completely given to Him that they are known to Him alone.
There are still others whom the Lord draws into this Garden to stay for only a limited time. He leads these back out again to become a witness of all they received while there alone in the Garden with Him Whom they love. Those who desire more of the Lord, but are not yet ready to be drawn into this Garden experience, will be able to pick fruit from the lives of these who had been within, until they also desire to come within this "Garden inclosed."
When the Lord came into the Garden to be with His Bride-as He had entered the Garden of old "in the cool of the day [evening]" Gen. 3:8, to walk with Adam-she experienced the peace and the joy that results from being in His presence. As she basked in the warmth of this presence, she prayed that the wind (the Holy Spirit) would come and blow upon her Garden. She desired new inward beauty that was developing within her to become as a beautiful fragrance that would flow out from her being, and bless Him." - (End of quote).
Jesus wants His garden to produce fruit so that He can eat of it. "Awake, O north wind, and come, wind of the south; Make my garden breathe out fragrance, let its spices be wafted abroad. May my beloved come into his garden and eat its choice fruits!" (Song of Songs 4:16 NASB). Notice the wording, "Make my garden breathe out fragrance!" These north winds are the hard and difficult days and years that we all are go through, but He says that this is what causes us to produce good fruit. So why would we run from these north winds when they are producing such a great work in us? He desires us to grow, so that our fragrance would blow in the winds and fill the air with His fragrance of love! "For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing" (2 Corinthians 2:15 NASB). Oh the bitterness of these north winds! But take courage, for the south winds will also come with great blessings!
God calls those who have fellowship with Him daily in their hearts His bride. "I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride; I have gathered my myrrh along with my balsam. I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey; I have drunk my wine and my milk. Eat, friends; drink and imbibe deeply, O lovers" (Song of Songs 5:1 NASB). He gathers His myrrh, the suffering that we all go through; nothing is wasted with God! But along with the suffering He gathers our spices so that we are a sweet smelling aroma unto Him. "But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place" (2 Corinthians 2:14 NASB).
He says, "I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey; I have drunk my wine and my milk." Then He says, "Eat, friends; drink and imbibe deeply, O lovers." Again He invites us to eat and dine with Him as He did in Revelation 3:20. But this time, He says, "Imbibe deeply O lovers," or become drunk with My presence and great love! Honey represents His strength that we receive from Him. The wine is the joy that comes to us in His presence, for it lifts all darkness. The milk is His sweet word that we are to receive daily to grow strong spiritually.
As I see it now, to walk daily in this garden with Jesus is to walk in heaven, and His Life that surrounds us "For in Him we live, and move, and have our being…" (Acts 17:28 KJV). It is a realm or level in the spirit with God that we, as Christians must attain to by maturing spiritually. When I say "attain to" I am not talking about working up a prayer life, but learning how to rest and yield to the Spirit of God by being infused with His life and presence; waiting in the Spirit as John the Revelator did in Revelation 1:10. "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day…" This is where the treasury of God's truths are all hidden, as John found out. It is in the secret place of our heart that God reveals them to us, because all things are hidden in Jesus. Jesus lives in our heart, in spirit, and as we spend time with Him in spirit He will reveal His secrets to us. "And I will give you the treasures of darkness, and hidden wealth of secret places, in order that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name" (Isaiah 45:3 NASB). We can live both in the natural and in the spirit realm at the same time, just as Jesus did. "And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven" (John 3:13 KJV). -- "And God raised us up with Christ (in spirit) and seated us with him in the heavenly (spirit) realms in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:6 NIV). Yes, believe the truth of God's word. You are already seated with Him in spiritual realms. Now go even higher in Him!
God's promise to us is that He will restore Zion (the church) to the likeness of the garden of Eden again.
"The LORD will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing" (Isaiah 51:3 NIV).
"They will say, "This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited" (Ezekiel 36:35 NIV).
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