Imagine a little boy. It's thousands of years ago, thousands of years even before Jesus is born. This little boy would get up every morning, and he would play with the other little girls and boys, and laugh, and do his chores.
Every now and then something very special would happen. He would see this old, old man come slowly out of his hut and take a seat on a large rock in the sun. And the little boy would run up to him crying, "Great-grandfather, Great-grandfather!"
The old man would grab the little boy up and hug him, and say, "What do you want, little Enoch?" And little Enoch would say, "Tell me a story, Great-grandfather. Tell me a story!"
"What story do you want to hear?" the old man would ask.
"Tell me about the Garden, Great-grandfather," the little boy would answer. "Tell me about the Garden."
"Ah .... the Garden," said the old man, smiling. "It was so beautiful. There were plants and trees everywhere, and flowers all year-round. You see, there were four seasons — spring and summer, fall and winter, just like here, but it was never too hot or too cold. You didn't even have to wear clothes to keep warm or protect your skin from the sun."
"People went naked?" asked little Enoch with a giggle.
"Yes, but it didn't bother anyone then. It was just Great-grandmother and I, and so it was all right." He paused. "It was just right."
"Tell me about the animals, Great-grandfather."
"Well," answered the old man. "There was every kind of animal you can imagine in the Garden — sheep and cattle, lions and tigers, elephants and hippopotamuses." The old man reached over and mussed the boy's hair. "Animals like horses, only with longer legs and long, long necks, and spots. We called them giraffes, and they could eat the tops of trees they were so tall."
"Did the lions and tigers eat the giraffes, like they do our sheep, Great-grandfather?"
"No, Enoch. None of the animals ate other animals. Everyone and everything was at peace. Wolves and lambs, lions and cattle would lie down together to sleep. Great-grandmother and I would run and play with them all. We'd rub their bellies and, when needed, take thorns out of their paws, because we were supposed to take care of the animals. And we all could eat all the food we wanted because of the fruits and vegetables that came from the plants and trees."
"What did they taste like, Great-grandfather?"
"Oh, Enoch, they all tasted different and all tasted wonderful. What's your favorite food?"
"Beefsteak", said the boy with a slightly guilty look.
The old man laughed, "Well, there were huge tomatoes in the Garden that tasted just like the best beefsteak you ever ate! Then for dessert, there was one tree we called the Tree of Life, which had 12 different kinds of fruit on it, and when you ate that fruit it gave you such energy! You never got sick, and you never got tired, and you never got old, like I am."
"And while you ate," the old man added, "or played, or just sat back in the sun like we are doing now, the birds would sing. Birds were everywhere, thousands upon thousands, in every color and size, and they would all sing their beautiful songs in an incredible harmony, praising the Lord."
"Was that the best part, Great-grandfather?"
"No, little Enoch. As wondrous as the singing of the birds was, it wasn't the best part. The best part was walking with the Lord. Sometimes the Lord would come in the morning, at sunrise, and sometimes He would come with the evening breeze. We would walk, and we would talk, and He would tell me I was His very own."
"What did the Lord look like, Great-grandfather?"
The old man thought a moment. "I'm afraid I don't exactly remember, little Enoch. It seems like at times the Lord would be there walking and look like you or me or someone in the village — a human being. And at other times I remember not really seeing Him at all. I just knew He was there — a Spirit that you can't see with your eyes or touch with your hand, but you feel and see and experience everything different just because the Lord is there with you. There's nothing like it — nothing more wonderful, nothing more real."
"I want to go to the Garden, Great-grandfather!" shouted little Enoch. "Right now!"
A sad look crept into the old man's eyes. "I'm sorry, Enoch. You can't go to the Garden right now. Great-grandmother and I made a terrible mistake, and nobody can go right now."
"But I want to walk with the Lord!" replied the boy.
A smile returned to the old man's face. "Ah ... now that you can do, little Enoch. That you can do."
"How?" Enoch asked, jumping on the old man's lap and climbing up right next to his face.
"Believe, little Enoch. Believe in the Lord. Believe that He is with you and that He loves you more than anyone else can. And He will walk with you, and talk with you, and tell you you're His very own. Then one day, little precious Enoch, if you walk with the Lord, He will take you to that Garden you so much want to see. You will live there together with Him, forever."
The old man kissed the boy, and the boy kissed him back. Together they sat on the rock in the sun while they listened to the birds ...and praised the Lord. [Genesis 5:1-5, 19-24]
Doug Tweed and his wife Christie are founders of Friends of the King Ministries. Readers may reach Doug by visiting the website friendsofthekingministries.org