When God first created heaven and earth in Genesis, they were both the same place. If you read the creation story, it does not talk about two distinct places where God lived and man lived. For example, the tree of life, which signified life without death, was located in the middle of the garden of Eden (Gen 2:9). This same tree of life is pictured in Revelations 2:7 and 22:2,14 as being in the new heaven at the end of the age. In Eden, God created a space where He could live with His creation. His perfect intention was for His people to dwell in His place, with full access to His presence. In Genesis 3:8, God was walking in the garden with His creation. It doesn’t say He came down from somewhere else to visit, it implies that He was there, his presence was with His creation in the garden He had created.
Because of the original sin of Adam and Eve, God was forced to drive them from the garden of Eden and put cherubim and a flaming sword to guard its eastern entrance and keep his creation from entering (Genesis 3:23). God was holy and could not live where sin was, so He had to separate himself from His creation.
The only hope that man now has is that God would have mercy and somehow redeem His fallen people that are separated from Him by the chasm of sin. The story of Eden is where the redemptive thread in the Bible begins. Who will pay the price for Adam and Eve’s rebellion? How do we get Eden back? The salvation story begins not with Jesus, but with Adam and Eve.
Because of His infinite mercy, God did not give up on his desire to dwell with His creation. In Exodus 25:9, he told Moses, “Have them make a sanctuary for me and I will dwell among them”. In this verse, you can hear the echo of Eden. God wants to live with His children again, so he has them build a sacred place where once again heaven and earth can meet and be one and the same.
Notice the similarities of the Tabernacle to the Garden. The entrance to both is from the east (Genesis 3:24 and Exodus 26). Both were guarded by cherubim (Genesis 3:24 and Exodus 26:31-33). God placed the tree of life in the garden (Genesis 2:9). In the construction of the Tabernacle, God told the craftsmen to build the menorah to resemble the tree of life, with buds, blossoms, branches and fruit (Exodus 25:31-39). The tabernacle was erected on the first day of the New Year (Exodus 40:17) to signify a new beginning between God and His people (see also Creation Story in the Tabernacle).
Heaven and earth could now meet in the Holy of Holies where God lived in the Tabernacle. Time and space would meet here where God would forgive the sins of the people through the sacrificial system He put in place. For one small moment, the Garden of Eden would be back, sins would be forgiven, and worshipers would experience what heaven is like. God would be living with His people again.