All nations and kingdoms have customs (unwritten codes of conduct and expectations that have become so ingrained in a people’s consciousness that they take on the force of law). They also have social norms (the manners, etiquette, graces, and standards of behavior that are regarded as normative for that society). Violation of those norms causes one to be labeled as “anti-social,” and sometimes even as “criminal.” In the Kingdom of Heaven, the King’s word is law, and it encompasses both customs and social norms. It is absolute and inviolable. Defiance of the King is not tolerated. Lucifer (satan) and one-third of the angels in Heaven discovered this the hard way when they mounted a coup against the King and were cast out of Heaven for their trouble. Adam and Eve made the same discovery when they found themselves banished from paradise.
In short, as an outpost of Heaven on Earth, the Garden-colony of Eden displayed the culture of Heaven. Culture is the culmination of all these elements: land, language, laws, constitution, moral codes, shared values, customs, and social norms. Culture defines a people. It is inherent; it comes naturally, which is exactly what God wants for His Kingdom citizens. He doesn’t want us to strive to obey laws written on stone tablets or laid down in books. He wants to write them in our minds and in our hearts so that they will become second nature to us. That way, we won’t have to think about living the Kingdom culture; we will simply do it.
By creating an outpost of Heaven on Earth, God wanted to establish a prototype of the original country of Heaven in another territory. Planting the Garden was a particularly apt way for God to accomplish His desire. First, the natural beauty, vibrant life, and abundant fruitfulness of the Garden are visible reflections of equivalent characteristics of God’s invisible Kingdom. Heaven is a spiritual country of indescribable beauty, vibrancy, and abundance because it is the center of power for the King of the universe, who is all of those things and more—infinitely more.
Second, a garden transforms the land it occupies, turning it from barren soil into a place of beauty, provision, and purpose. In the same way, the Kingdom of Heaven transforms the natural realm, wherever the two intersect, so that the natural realm becomes a true reflection of Heaven. God’s big idea was to reproduce the Kingdom of Heaven in the visible realm by planting a Kingdom outpost on the Earth and populating it with Kingdom citizens who would govern according to Kingdom government, live according to Kingdom culture, and expand Kingdom influence until it filled and transformed the Earth. Politically speaking, the term for this kind of governmental expansion is colonization. As a Kingdom outpost on Earth, Eden was a colony of Heaven established by a righteous, just, and benevolent King who is compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love (see Ps. 103:8).
But Eden was also a garden. And just as kingdoms expand by transplanting their governments and cultures in another place through colonization, gardens expand through the transplantation of seedlings and cuttings onto new soil and graftings into new plant life. God’s purpose was that His Kingdom citizens in Eden—His steward-gardeners—would expand the Garden and the government and culture of His Kingdom by transplanting them wherever they went. That is still God’s big idea—and His purpose for today. God is still in the horticultural business.
All Kingdom citizens share a common call and commission from their King to be royal gardeners, sowing seeds and planting “gardens” of Kingdom culture and government throughout the world until “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Hab. 2:14 KJV).
-Reclaiming God’s original Purpose for your Life