The garden of Eden was representative of the idyllic state God intended man to live in. In his original creation, everything God made was good and was meant to be sustained for ever. It was only because Adam and Eve sinned against God that things began to deteriorate. After the earth was cursed, the garden of Eden became restricted and was guarded by angels. It says of Adam in Genesis 3:23-24, “Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”
It can be assumed that the garden of Eden still exists somewhere in the world, but the fact that it is inaccessible to man means that only God and his angels knows where it is. It is possible that the Assyrian Empire was established near, or perhaps just outside the entrance to the garden. In his parable of the cedar of Lebanon, Ezekiel referred to the Assyrian nation as a tree in the garden of Eden. He said, “The cedars in the garden of God could not hide him: the fir trees were not like his bough, and the chestnut trees were not like his branches; nor any tree in the garden of God was like unto him in beauty. I have made him fair by the multitudes of his branches: so that all the trees of Eden that were in the garden of God, envied him” (Ezekiel 31:8-9).
Perhaps the link between the Assyrian nation and the garden of Eden was the origin of human civilization. If Eden represented the ideal state, then Assyria was most likely the opposite, a degenerate pagan center of idolatry. The Assyrians were know to be cruel and were merciless to their enemies. The Assyrian campaigns against Israel and Judah were the most traumatic political events in the entire history of Israel. “The brutal Assyrian style of warfare relied on massive armies, superbly equipped with the world’s first great siege machines manipulated by an efficient corps of engineers. Psychological terror, however, was Assyria’s most effective weapon. It was ruthlessly applied, with corpses impaled on stakes, severed heads stacked in heaps, and captives skinned alive” (Assyrian Campaigns against Israel and Judah).
God’s reference to the garden of Eden in his parable of the cedar of Lebanon may have been intended to show the Assyrians as the end result of the fall of mankind. It could have been that the illustration was also an attempt to associate the Assyrians with Satan’s effort to challenge God’s sovereignty. Setting them up as the chief among sinners, God’s overthrow of Assyria demonstrated that there was no power that could stand against him. He said, “I made the nations to shake at the sound of his fall, when I cast him down to hell with them that descend into the pit: and all the trees of Eden, the choice and best of Lebanon, all that drink water, shall be comforted in the nether parts of the earth. They also went down into hell with him unto them that be slain with the sword; and they that were his arm, that dwelt under his shadow in the midst of the heathen” (Ezekiel 31:16-17).