Read Psalm 15.
Eden wasn’t just a garden. It was the place where heaven and earth connected, interlocked, became one. It was the spot where the spiritual realm and the natural world came together, where God dwelled with human beings. In that sense, Eden was a temple, set high atop a mountain.
Yup, the garden of Eden was on top of a mountain. While the book of Genesis is silent on that detail, Ezekiel tells us that the garden was on “the holy mount of God” (Ezekiel 28:13–14).
A mountain setting for the garden makes sense. People in the ancient world associated mountains with the realm of the gods, since people couldn’t easily climb them. Plus, from the vantage point of the valley below, mountaintops were literally in the sky—in the heavens—and far away from the prying eyes of mortals.
But there’s another reason why it makes sense that Eden was on top of a mountain. In Scripture, God often meets with His people on mountains. Think about it— Mount Moriah (Genesis 22:1–18; 2 Chronicles 3:1), Mount Sinai (Exodus 3–4:17; 19–20), Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:16–46), Mount Zion (Psalm 132:13). Something with God always seems to be happening up on a mountain.
And then there’s the ministry of Jesus. He preached His most famous sermon on a mountain (Matthew 5–7), prayed before choosing His twelve disciples on a mountain (Mark 3:13–19), was transfigured on a mountain (Matthew 17:1–8), prayed on a mountain before His arrest (Luke 22:39–46), and commissioned His disciples to preach the gospel to all nations on a mountain (Matthew 28:16–20).
Here in Psalm 15, David asks two very important questions: “LORD, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain?” (v. 1). The “tent” and the “holy mountain” are both references to God’s temple, and in David’s day that temple wasn’t really a temple; it was the tent David erected to house the ark of the covenant (2 Chronicles 1:4). But the point would be the same, even if Solomon’s temple had already been completed and could be seen glistening in the sun: David wants to know who can draw near to God.
The answers to David’s questions are important, but they’re a lot more powerful if we know our home was once with God upon His mountain. David is asking about more than entrance requirements to the temple. He’s asking, “Lord, who can join You in the place where heaven meets earth? Who can return to Eden, if only for a bit?”
What follows is unexpected if only the earthly temple is in view. There are no priestly restrictions, no purity rites, no sacrifices listed in this psalm. Instead, David begins describing a holy life. “The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart” (Psalm 15:2). The only one who is truly blameless, truly righteous, and who is Himself truth is Jesus (John 14:6; 1 Peter 2:22). By all measures, it is only Jesus who can stand on God’s holy mountain.
Abraham, Moses, Elijah—all those who had mountaintop experiences with God—were only able to do so because of their faith. Though they could not see Christ perfectly in the dim light of prophecy, they trusted God would send the Messiah and that He would provide a way back to Eden (Hebrews 11:13–16; 39–40). Each Old Testament mountaintop experience with God pointed to Jesus. Each foreshadowed Christ.
In Christ and through His Spirit, we are being made more like Him each day (2 Corinthians 3:18), and one day will be as He is (Romans 8:29; 1 John 3:2)—the exact sort of person David describes in Psalm 15. By grace, you and I can dwell in God’s sacred tent. We can live on God’s holy mountain. And we can be with God forever, as it was always meant to be.