193 -A WATERED GARDEN – I
“Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done” (Is. 46:9-10). The one speaking is Jehovah or Yahweh, or El Elion, or El Shaddai, or Adonai, for these are all names designating the same god of the Old Testament.
Let us study the oldest thing done by Jehovah: the Garden of Eden. Let us read the biblical description.“And Jehovah God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground Jehovah caused to grow every three that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is Pishon; it flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. And the gold of that land is good; the bdellium and the onyx stone are there. And the name of the second river is Gihon; it flows around the whole land of Cush. And the name of the third river is Tigris; it flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. Then Jehovah took the man and put it into the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. And Jehovah God commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die’” (Gen. 2:8-17). This happened about 3,360 years before the prophet Ezekiel, who lived in the days of Nebuchadnezzar, and of the captivity of the kingdom of Judah. Now Ezekiel wrote the following, from Jehovah: “Son of man, say to Pharaoh king of Egypt, and to his multitude, ‘Whom are you like in your greatness? Behold, Assyria was a cedar in Lebanon with beautiful branches and forest shade, and very high; and its top was among the clouds. The waters made it grow, the deep made it high. With its rivers it continually extended all around its planting place, and it sent out its channels to all the trees of the field. Therefore its height was loftier than all the trees of the field and its boughs became many and its branches long because of many waters as it spread them out. All the birds of the heavens nested in its boughs, and under its branches all the beasts of the field gave birth, and all great nations lived under its shade. So it was beautiful in its greatness, in the length of its branches, for its root extended to many waters. THE CEDARS IN GOD’S GARDEN COULD NOT MATCH IT; THE CYPRESSES COULD NOT COMPARE WITH ITS BOUGHS, AND THE PLANE TREES COULD NOT MATCH ITS BRANCHES. NO TREE IN GOD’S GARDEN COULD COMPARE WITH IT IN ITS BEAUTY. I MADE IT BEAUTIFUL WITH THE MULTITUDE OF ITS BRANCHES, AND ALL THE TREES OF EDEN, WHICH WERE IN THE GARDEN OF GOD, WERE JEALOUS OF IT” (Ezek. 31:2-9).
Just as in the beginning of the prophecy (v.2), Jehovah said, “WHO IS LIKE PHARAOH AND HIS MULTITUDE IN HIS GREATNESS?” the end of the prophecy says, “‘To which among the trees of Eden are you thus equal in glory and greatness? Yet you will be brought down with the trees of Eden to the earth beneath; you will lie in the midst of the uncircumcised, with those who were slain by the sword. SO IS PHARAOH AND ALL HIS MULTITUDE!’ declares Jehovah God” (Ezek. 31:18).
Chapter 31 of Ezekiel gives us the following fantastic revelation: When there were great warriors, there existed a second Garden of Eden. Really there were two gardens of Eden, and the first one, narrated on the second chapter of Genesis, was but the picture of the first one, even though the characters really existed, and also the place. Jehovah said, “I will open My mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old” (Ps. 78:2). Ezekiel, the prophet, gives us the key to uncover the enigma. But first, let us locate the Garden of Eden by the biblical narrative.
The first river, the Pishon, is the Jordan River, which surrounds the land of Havilah. Havilah was a region at the side of Jordan where Saul overcame the Amalekites (1 Sam. 15:7). Amalek was the grandson of Esau, son of Isaac (Gen. 36:12). The second river is Gihon, and this is the one that flows around the land of Cush, that was where Ethiopia is, near the Nile River. The third river is the Tigris, where Assyria used to be. The fourth is the Euphrates, a river that went through the city of Babylon. The first part of the enigma of Jehovah is that the four rivers that bathed the Garden of Eden are four nations. Egypt, symbolized by the river Nile or Gihon. The second people are the Canaanites, in the land of Canaan, symbolized by the river Jordan. The third is the Tigris River, or Assyria; and the fourth river is the Euphrates or Babylon, of the great Nebuchadnezzar.
We have analyzed the prophecy of Ezekiel, comparing it with the narrative of Moses in Genesis, chapter two. Just as in the first garden there were many trees, in the second Eden the nations and kingdoms were the trees of the Garden. The first tree that stood out, whose top showed up at the top of the other trees, was Assyria, the Cedar of Lebanon (Ezek. 31:3).
The waters in the Bible are peoples and multitudes (Rev. 17:15). Ezekiel says, “The waters made it grow, the deep made it high (the deep is a black, bottomless pit). With its rivers it continually extended all around its planting place” (Ezek. 31:4). The little rivers were the Assyrian armies sent to war to increase the kingdom by force. The birds of the sky nestled in their boughs (Ezek. 31:6). Birds symbolize demons. Jesus tells us that in the parable of the sower: “Some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and devoured them” (Matt. 13:4). Explaining the parable, Jesus said, “When any one hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road” (Matt. 13:19). The Assyrian kingdom “was beautiful in its greatness, in the length of its branches; for its roots extended to many waters” (Ezek. 31:7). “No tree in God’s garden could compare with it in its beauty,” that is, no kingdom or nation was like Assyria (Ezek. 32:8).
At this point, Jehovah declares: “I made it beautiful with the multitude of its branches” (Ezek. 31:9). Really, the power, the conquests, the killings, the cruelties were all of them works of Jehovah. So, as he formed the first Garden of Eden and placed Adam in it to till and keep it, he also placed Adam, that is Israel, in the true Garden of Eden to till and keep it. Israel is the firstborn of Jehovah, just like Adam(Ezek. 4:22; Gen. 2:7). The Assyrians were merciless and cruel. The conquered king was forced to go on all fours, as the footstool of the conqueror. The heads of the beheaded people formed mountains of skulls. Whoever reads the story of this people is horrified. Jehovah declares, “I made it beautiful with the multitude of its branches (Ezek. 31:9). And after that Jehovah pronounces judgment, “I made the nations quake at the sound of its fall when I made it go down to Sheol with those who go down to the pit” (Ezek. 31:16). One thing is for a man to become evil because he lives among evil men; another thing is for him to be created evil by god. In this way also, a nation or kingdom becomes merciless and bellicose, and another thing is for it to be created merciless and bellicose by an unmerciful god. Jehovah created Assyria, a cruel people, bellicose, corrupted, idolatrous and merciless. Pharaoh, likewise, workmanship of Jehovah, had the same disgraced fate (Ezek. 31:18). The apostle Paul gives us the following revelation: “And in the generations gone by He permitted all the nations to go their own ways” (Acts 14:16). While Jehovah manipulated the kingdoms of this world with wars, pestilences, killings and destructions, the true God had nothing to do with those terrible things. Is not that wonderful?
By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira