Fitness Program – Week 3 of 6

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WEEK 3 FUN FACTS:
Total Miles Walked Last Week: 1,129!
Arrived at Destination: The Euphrates River
Walked/Exercised the farthest: David Cross with 67 miles!  (this does not include the bikers who go reeeeeallly far!)

Good news, so far we have increased our overall mileage every week!  Keep up the great work!  My challenge for you now is to keep increasing the mileage every week!  This coming week let’s walk at least 1,130 miles.
Week 1: 943
Week 2: 1,109
Week 3: 1,129
We’ve made it to the banks of the Euphrates River.  We’re looking for the Garden of Eden!  So keep your eyes peeled!

The only information that we have for the location of the Garden of Eden comes to us from Genesis 2:
10 A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.) 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. 14 The name of the third river is the Tigris;it runs along the east side of Ashur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.
So, the Garden of Eden is located at the site of these four rivers: the Pishon, the Gihon, the Tigris, and the Euphrates.  This is a difficult spot to identify because we really only know where half of these rivers are.  We can only clearly identify the Tigris and the Euphrates.  There are many theories about the location of the Pishon and the Gihon, but none are certain.
The Tigris and the Euphrates can’t be underestimated when it comes to their importance in this region.  They give the land the name Mesopotamia because Mesopotamia means between two rivers.

Civilizations began around these rivers.  Irrigation was invented here as people began to manipulate the water flow for their own use.  They controlled where the water would go and could send it far away from the original river through canals.  This caused people to begin relying on each other in substantial ways because sometimes your water would rely on your neighbor’s irrigation system.  As the irrigation systems developed the need for laws and regulations developed.  And before you know it, you have a full grown society of rules and structure.
This area really is the beginning of life in many ways.  Most importantly for us, it is the location of the Garden of Eden.  Where exactly was it?  We don’t know.  But this entire region is an arid desert landscape, and to come across a fresh-water flowing river is to come across… paradise.  A Garden in the eyes of a person in this area could mean something very different than what you and I think of a garden.  Maybe Eden wasn’t a garden of beautiful flowers in perfect rows of color.  Maybe the garden was the richness of the the land between the rivers, a fertile area of good soil and fresh water.
Let’s sit down on the banks of the Euphrates here for a minute and talk about a passage of Scripture from Isaiah…

In the book of Isaiah, there is a great word of encouragement where Isaiah is giving comfort to God’s people.  He says:

The Lord will surely comfort Zion
    and will look with compassion on all her ruins;
he will make her deserts like Eden,
    her wastelands like the garden of the Lord.
Joy and gladness will be found in her,
    thanksgiving and the sound of singing.
Isaiah 51:3

God takes our deserts and gives them rivers of life.  God takes our dry times and brings forth gardens.  This what Eden is all about.  God giving us life.  This is what the people of Mesopotamia were celebrating, that a river of life flowed through their land.

*Rita chimes in*: “Hey, speaking of water, don’t forget to keep drinking while we’re on our journey!”

Something that I really like about this part of Scripture is that it identifies real places.  The Bible tells us, from the beginning, that this story is a real story from a real place.  It is not a fictional tale about an other-world.
As you exercise, thank God for the beautiful garden of our world.  If you happen to be walking outside, take notice of God’s creation around you — the mountains, the sky, the sun (or moon!).  These are all gifts from God!  Say a prayer as you walk and thank God for the garden of his creation!
Keep up the great work everyone!  So far we have walked from Gobekli Tepe, to Mt. Nemrut, to the banks of the Euphrates River.  See you next week!