“They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden” (Genesis. 3:8). Genesis chapters 1-3 act as an echo chamber where the wording allows each thought to resound many times. Thus, the words describing the terrifying estrangement linger long: “I heard the sound of you.… I was afraid.… I hid myself” (Gen. 3:10).
Whatever impact this account leaves on modern biblical interpreters, there is no question that it impacted subsequent Bible contributors. In the greatest prophetic vision of the Old Testament, the memory of Paradise Lost is the fixed reference point for the future state for which the prophet is yearning.
The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:6–9)
Isaiah paints a beautiful picture of Paradise Lost. What the prophet foretells is an incredible vision of Paradise Regained. The prophet evokes in the fondest images possible of peace and harmony lost and then restored. More than once, Isaiah returns to this theme before sending it off to posterity to become the vision for the promised future state in the New Testament along with the “before” state in Genesis (Isaiah 25:6–9; Isaiah 65:17–25).
In the New Testament, the crisis in Genesis is recalled time and again. It is the crucial point of reference for its message. We see it in the temptation stories in the Synoptic Gospels, where Jesus seems to retrace the steps of Adam and Eve. As in Genesis, Jesus confronts a tempter who seeks to shake His confidence in God. Yet unlike Adam and Eve, Jesus emerges victorious, refusing to bow to the satanic innuendo (Matt. 4:1–11; Mark 1:12–13; Luke 4:1–13). The contrast is striking as the similarity, yet it is the similarity that puts the encounter in the proper perspective. Jesus is traversing familiar ground—the ground where the first human beings adopted the serpent’s point of view. The echoes of Genesis are meant to enable us to revisit the account between the serpent and Eve and thus gain an appreciation for the scope of Jesus’s triumph. And it is because Jesus Triumphed that we have a hope for Paradise Regained.