Two Gardens

Lindsey Jodts, Groups Pastor, South Barrington | January 11, 2024

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. 
Hebrews 4:9-11

Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the human he had formed. 
Genesis 2:8

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 
Revelation 21:1

In a world where hustle is praised and grit is glorified, perhaps it’s not a coincidence that God commanded us to sabbath. It’s not just a suggestion, a thing to be earned, or something we can theologically exposit from the Bible, but it’s there, clearly and directly, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy…For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (Exodus 20:8, 11).

In stark contrast to the non-stop pace of modern life, on either end of the Bible sits a garden. The first is a beautiful place of newness and creation, discovery and delight. The second is a garden city, with a river flowing from a throne, bodies at rest, and peoples of every tribe and nation in communal shalom. It is not just a pause from our days that God calls us to when we sabbath, but a chance to re-enact Eden and anticipate the new Jerusalem. 

In his book Sabbath, Dan Allender reminds us, “The Sabbath is a feast day that remembers our leisure in Eden and anticipates our play in the new heavens and earth with family, friends, and strangers for the sake of the glory of God.” 

In their journey out of Egypt, God invited the Israelites to experience the goodness of sabbath rest in the promised land. They were given an early-access pass to shalom, to play and abundance, rest and delight. But in their short-sightedness, they sought their own way forward. They doubted God’s promise of glorious rest, and, as a result, they lost their chance to experience the promised land (Deuteronomy 1:35). What can be learned from the failings of those who came before us? Perhaps, among other lessons, it’s that we should trust God’s heart for us. God’s longing for us is to experience the ultimate delight and joy that will come when heaven once again meets earth in fullness. In the interim, however, let us not forget that we were made in Eden with hearts that long for eternal glory. That is the heart of sabbath. 

Next Steps

Spend some time in imaginative prayer. Reflect on a favorite place–somewhere in nature, a cool spot in your favorite city, or the setting of a favorite memory. Meditate on what makes that place special and invite Jesus into the setting with you. As you reflect, write down what you notice. From your reflections, choose one thing that you can use as a starting point to practice a sabbath moment this week. Alternatively, read the Eden narrative in Genesis 1-3 or about the new Jerusalem in Revelation 21-22 and use reflections on that imagery to guide your sabbath.