The Edenic covenant, named for its geographical setting, was established by God for man during the first dispensation, the dispensation of innocence. Our approach is twofold: to consider the Edenic covenant in its biblical context and to consider the timeless principles of  the covenant applicable today. A historical contract A definition and overview of the scriptural covenants between God and man will help us see the biblical context of the  Edenic covenant. A covenant is a binding arrangement between two or more parties designed to govern their actions and relationship. The term covenant is
derived from Hebrew words meaning “to eat” or “to cut,” referring to ceremonial actions surrounding the ratification of
a covenant, such as a meal or sacrifice. The Edenic covenant was unilateral with one conditional element added. It was a
command from God issued to Adam, the royal tenant of the earth. The sovereign Lord established the terms of this contract without man’s consent. The covenants of Scripture can be grouped as Primeval (Edenic, Adamic,  Noahic), Patriarchal (Abrahamic, Mosaic, Levitic, Palestinian, Davidic, Solomonic), and Prophetic (New, Eternal),  eleven covenants in all. Each covenant  has its unique terms and conditions  between God and man. One exception is  the eternal (or everlasting) covenant between God the Father and God the Son. (Heb. 13:20; 1 Pet. 1:18-21). The elements of the Edenic covenant are seen in
man’s responsibility and God’s provision  (Gen. 1:26-30; 2:8-17). Under the Edenic covenant, man had many responsibilities:
1. Populate the earth
2. Subdue the earth for the benefit
of human existence
Gardening 101
3. Exercise dominion over the rest
of creation
4. Sustain human life by eating
herbs and fruit
5. Tend the garden of Eden
6. Abstain from eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil God provided a garden of material  blessings and spiritual fellowship for man. However, the Edenic covenant also contained a provision of judgment  for man’s disobedience. The sentence was death (v. 17). The covenant was designed to test man’s obedience.  Love and obedience are often coupled
in Scripture (Jn. 15:9-10; 1 Jn. 3:18).  God desired the expression of man’s love through voluntary obedience to  His Word. Nothing short of that could  satisfy the heart of God. Man’s disobedience caused this covenant’s provision
of judgment and death to be activated upon Adam and all his descendents (Gen. 5:5; Rom. 5:12; Heb. 9:27). In this, we see principles that we will see again in other covenants. God created man with a unique design to serve  His divine purposes. He gave man the capacity for moral responsibility. He also warned man of the consequences of disobedience. It contains a key principle for all generations: obedience  brings divine blessing; disobedience brings divine judgment. There is a parallel charge set forth to the nation of Israel (Deut. 30:15-20). From a historical perspective, the  Edenic covenant was between God and  Adam and Eve. Its context was in the  garden of Eden within the dispensation  of innocence. Its terms were  primarily related to the trees of the garden. However, in a more general sense, the  principles of the Edenic covenant have a broader application to the subsequent  dispensations of world history. William  MacDonald, speaking of the forbidden fruit, states; “In different forms, that fruit is still with us today.” [Believer’s  Bible Commentary] 

Timeless principles By way of application, consider some  lessons for today that can be gleaned from the Edenic covenant.
1. Man has been given divinelyappointed responsibility for the earth. Man was placed in dominion over and
above the rest of creation. He is the pinnacle of God’s creative handiwork. The  earth was made for man’s blessing.

2. God commanded man to “be fruitful, and multiply and replenish the  earth.” This directive has never been
rescinded. God’s command silences the frettings of finite men about over-population (Ps. 127:3-5).

3. After giving man life, God immediately gave him work to do. Idleness is never positive; hard work is held in high
regard (Prov. 24:30-34; Eph. 4:28). 

4. Privilege entails responsibility. Man was placed in a beautiful garden,  but he was commanded to cultivate it
and guard its fruitfulness. In Matthew’s gospel, the kingdom of heaven is represented by numerous agricultural similes
revealing principles of fruitfulness and guarding against adversaries. If we are to be fruitful, our lives must be cultivated and guarded.
5. The title of this garden is more accurately “the garden of the Lord” (Gen. 13:10). We are servants in His fields. The
garden of the Lord was the first place of  God’s presence on earth. It was there,  in the midst of this garden, that man
learned how to walk with God, listen to God, speak to God, serve God, worship  God, and offer sacrifices of praise to His
same. Today, we gather to Him who is  in our midst (Mt. 18:20; 2 Cor. 6:16-18)  to learn the same lessons.


6. The name Lord or Jehovah is first found within the Edenic covenant. In  Genesis 1, it is God or Elohim, but in  Genesis 2 it is Jehovah Elohim who forms  human beings for divine fellowship (Gen. 2:7). This is the heart of God: He is  seeking for a personal relationship with
man whom He designed for that unique role. And when man broke that relationship by sinning, it was God the Son who
died to restore it (Jn. 17:20-26). 


7. God’s test of man’s obedience
involved two trees: the tree of life
and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Both trees were found in the  midst of the garden. The fruit of the
tree of life offered immortality. The forbidden fruit of the latter tree led  to death. Note that the tree of life was
not forbidden; its fruit could be freely eaten (Gen. 2:16). Thus, we see that it  was God’s desire for man was to enjoy
immortality without ever having any exposure to that which is evil. This  is still God’s desire for His children
(Php. 4:8; 1 Cor. 15:51-54).


8. Once man fell into sin, God graciously acted quickly, denying further  access to the tree of life in order to prevent man

from becoming an immortal, immoral being (Gen. 3:22-24). Thankfully, in the fullness of time, God’s work of

redemption through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ brings us immortality and eternal morality. Thanks to the last 

Adam, we are invited to partake of the tree of life (Rev. 22:1-2).


In summary, a bird’s-eye view of Scripture focuses our attention on three trees: the tree of death from the Edenic covenant (Gen. 2:17), the tree of
healing at Calvary (1 Pet. 2:24), and 
 the  tree of life (Rev. 2:7) in eternity. The   Edenic covenant sets the stage for the 

eternal purposes of God from creation to the glories of eternity. It will be there, in that heavenly garden, that we
will know the joy of listening to His voice and walking by His side, forever in the light of His glory. 

By: Sam Thorpe

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