The Garden

"The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it." Genesis 2:15

The Bible's creation account paints a picture of what the world could be. In Genesis 3:8, God is said to be walking in the garden-- walking with humanity, amidst humanity. Part of humanity's mission was to work the garden (a place where they could live with God and each other): the inward mission was to cultivate God's presence at home.

"God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.' " Genesis 1:28 

It is important to look inward and take care of your own garden, but also to go beyond your garden. The word "subdue" here is the same idea as Adam and Eve working and taking care of the garden-- to make the whole earth like the garden, a place where God could dwell with humanity. The outward mission was to cultivate God's presence at home and also in all the earth. 

The Temple

But is this initial mission of Adam and Eve over? Consider Israel's temple, the place where God dwelled with humanity.

"Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them." Exodus 25:8

"I have indeed built a magnificent temple for you, a place for you to dwell forever." 1 Kings 8:13

The temple symbolized the whole universe: an outer courtyard, an inner holy place (where only priests could enter), and an innermost most holy place (where the High Priests entered once a year to atone for the sins of the people). This three-part structure symbolizes the earth, the darker night sky with the lampstand, and the invisble realm/God's heavenly throne room. Even though humanity has a broken relationship with God, the temple shows that God is still commited to dwelling with humanity in all the earth.  And like Adam and Eve, Israel also had a mission:

"... I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles" (Isaiah 42:6)

"This is what the Lord Almighty says: “In those days ten people from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.'" (Zechariah 8:23)


  • Know that God's plan is to make the whole earth a garden-like temple, a place where God dwells with us and we live with one another in harmony.
  • Know that humanity's/Israel's first mission was to cultivate God's presence on earth.
  • Ask yourself, "Where is the garden that God has put me in?" Start with your own situation, your own family, your own church, your own neighbourhood.
Questions for Small Groups
  1. Can you think of a time when you had a clear “mission” in life, similar to John’s mission to transform his UK home? What do you think are some benefits of a church having a clear sense of its mission?
  2. The sermon indicated that God’s vision in creation was and is to dwell with humanity in all the world. What does this tell you about God?
  3. Adam and Eve had a mission to both work the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15) and subdue the whole earth (1:28). How do you perceive the balance between an “inward” and “outward” focus at Runnymede?
  4. The sermon suggested a mission strategy of working on our own garden (i.e., our own church) before working on the rest of the world. Do you agree? Why or why not? 

Missed this Sunday's sermon? Watch it here!