Why was Satan allowed in the garden?
The description of the creation of Adam and Eve in Genesis chapter 2 is followed immediately by the appearance of Satan at the very beginning of chapter 3. Verse 8 of chapter 3 gives the further impression that God was accustomed to visiting Adam and Eve in the evening. Putting this together gives the distinct impression that the appearance of Satan was very soon, if not immediately after Adam and Eve were placed in the garden. This brings to mind the account of Satan coming before God in the book of Job (Job 2:1-2). There it was God Himself who brought Job to Satan’s attention, which led to Job’s trial.
In contrast, the story of Elisha mocking the prophets of Baal, “he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened” (1 Ki. 18:27), is humorous because we know that the true God is never “asleep” (Ps. 121:3-4) or inattentive to the events in His creation. So, we must realize that it was in God’s sovereign wisdom and will that Satan tempted Adam and Eve. He knew what would happen. In fact, as we will see, Eden was not God’s purpose for Adam and Eve. They were actually better off after the Fall. Just as Job had a necessary lesson to learn, God had a far higher purpose for mankind than to dwell in Eden. (1 Cor. 2:9)
God’s purpose in creation can be seen by considering 1 Corinthians 15:46 with Acts 2:23 and John 12:24. In these verses we read, “But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual.” To provide the basis for this “new creation” we read “ Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” and “this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God.” So we see from this that God’s purpose from the beginning, even before creation, was the redemption of mankind, not sustaining them in a perfect garden on this Earth. This purpose finds its resolution in the New Jerusalem and the New Heaven and Earth.
The garden was certainly “pleasant” as the name “Eden” means. In Eden, everything considered desirable for life was provided: food, a place to live, companionship, fellowship with God, purpose, and useful work in an idyllic environment. For Adam and Eve, it was a witness of God’s goodness and thus exaggerates the lie of Satan that God was withholding something good from them. Their disobedience showed the weakness of their condition. Their failure represented the general failure of mankind. But, it provided the opportunity for God to reveal the redemption plan that was to be the basis of a permanent relationship with God. It is very important to realize that Adam and Eve were actually better off after the fall than being in the garden. In the garden, their relationship to God was based on a legal principle; whereas after the fall, God provides the promise of redemption, and their subsequent relationship with God is based on grace accepted by faith. In addition, the world they were thrust into was the perfect training ground for them as sinners. As Paul learned, he needed the thorn. (2 Cor. 12:7–10)
So, it is not surprising that the record shows that Satan was allowed to immediately enter the garden to tempt Adam and Eve. Certainly, God could have prevented this but it was not his plan to keep Adam and Eve sequestered in a protected garden. Rather it was for them to trust his grace, living a life in a world that was contrary to their old nature, and learn the goodness of God in the face of trial. This provided the necessary discipline to instruct them in the ways of God’s grace and learn dependence in the face of their own frailty. It is important to recall here that it is the glory of the Lord Jesus, as Son of Man, to walk in the creature’s place. This would have an immeasurable reward.
We thank Thee, Lord, for weary days When desert springs were dry, And first we knew what depth of need Thy love could satisfy. Days when beneath the desert sun, Along the toilsome road, O'er roughest ways we walked with One, That One the Son of God. We thank Thee for that rest in Thee The weary only know, That perfect wondrous sympathy We only learn below. The sweet companionship of One Who once the desert trod: The glorious fellowship with One Upon the throne of God. We know Thee as we could not know Through heaven's golden years; We there shall see Thy glorious face --- Here understand Thy tears! And here in peace, with Thee we go Where Thou, our Shepherd, trod, Still, learning through our need below Depths of the heart of God. Anonymous (Spiritual Songs #329)