The paper will assert that mankind as God’s good and best creation is most truly human when living in the presence of God. Genesis 1 affirms that mankind (both male and female human beings) are created in God’s image. Genesis 2 describes mankind’s habitation in the presence of God, and thus existed in the truest sense as God had intended. The fall as described in Genesis 3 results in brokenness—mankind’s relationship with God, the man and woman’s relationship with each other (reflecting the enmity that exists among all humans, i.e., Cain’s murder of his brother Abel). It was the subsequent expulsion from Eden that removed mankind from the continuous presence of God, and thus led to a downward moral spiral.
God does not leave this situation to end as it might, however. At various points God intervenes in various ways to preserve humanity. The characters of this early part of the biblical story all experience short seasons in God’s presence which result in reconciliation: Adam and Eve, Cain, Noah and his family, etc. The rest of Genesis and the entirety of Exodus build steadily toward the time when God establishes his covenant with the people at Sinai, the basis of which was the provision of the Tabernacle as the locus of His presence among His people. The association of the Tabernacle with Eden—both the places in which Yahweh dwells with His people—suggests an association with returning mankind to his status before the Fall.