Sunday, January 10, 2016

Going back home to the Garden of Eden

What was it like for Adam and Eve, walking together with God every day in the cool of the evening?  They could look straight into His eyes, ask Him whatever they wanted, hear His immediate response, feel His love, His comfort, His creativity, His sense of humor, soak in His wisdom, and just know Him as their most trusted and caring friend. The Garden of Eden was more than just plentiful food and friendly animals – God the Creator was their constant companion.  Can you imagine the intense pain they must have felt, knowing that they could never have the same intimacy with Him again?  Not because God didn’t want it, but because they had chosen the serpent over God.  They had welcomed evil into their lives.  They had become filthy and couldn’t survive being in God’s presence any more. The angel with the flaming sword that stood at the entrance of the Garden wasn’t there to harm them, but to protect them from being consumed by God’s holy light.

How many times have we wished we could look straight into God’s eyes and ask Him all our questions and hear Him answer?  If we were pure enough to look at Him and not be struck dead by His unapproachable light, the answers to all our questions would probably be so obvious we wouldn’t even need to ask.  But that combination of being in the light of His holiness while also being such close friends is the perfection of the Garden of Eden.  That’s what we were made for.  That is home.  No evil, no sadness, no selfishness or ulterior motives – just pure joy.  Heaven is like that, and God has always been trying to bring us back into that closeness from the moment that we lost Eden.  Just look at how God instructed Moses to build the tabernacle, and Solomon to build His temple, and you can see that Eden was the model.

The Garden of Eden was an enclosed area with only one entrance on the east that was guarded by powerful cherubim with flaming swords. The tabernacle was also an enclosed area with only one entrance on the east.  The cherubim in the tabernacle, guarded the presence of God who dwelt in the Holy of Holies in the Ark of the Covenant, and by Him stood the lampstand that represents the tree of life.  God dwelt in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve with the tree of life right in the middle.  Right now in heaven, the book of Revelation says that the tree of life stands by the throne of God.  So many symbols of the Garden were carefully crafted to decorate the tabernacle and Temple – pomegranates, almond blossoms, dates, olives, figs, all for a reason.  God wants His people to know that He wants that intimacy that He once had with us in the Garden.  He wants us back, but that can only happen through our faith in the blood of Jesus’ sacrifice — and the sacrifice of our own lives to serve Him by faith.  Sacrifice is the only way to return to Eden.

Every time we go against our flesh and just obey out of love for Him — not out of an attempt to impress anyone or fulfill an obligation — we bring ourselves closer to seeing Him face to face.  We can actually start to experience the comfort, the joy and the friendship that Adam and Eve once knew. We can read His Words, and sense that we’re not just reading, but absorbing wisdom into the depths of our being, living knowledge that transforms into actions and miracles.  

The tabernacle is gone, the temple in Jerusalem is now a wall, some stairs and mostly rubble.  Jesus says that our lives are supposed to be the Temple of the Holy Spirit – His unapproachable light is supposed to live inside of us, purifying us and comforting us, revealing truths and empowering us to overcome impossible obstacles.  The Garden of Eden, the Holy of holies, is now supposed to be our own, unworthy lives.  This is why we need the infilling of the Holy Spirit.  Not to prove how holy we are or wear a churchy label, but to finally get back to where we’re supposed to be in the first place.  When His Spirit baptizes you, He’s right there and you can walk with Him in the cool of the evening, the heat of the day, in the valley of the shadow of death – anywhere and any time, and you’ll always be home.  

Listen to Me, you who pursue righteousness, you who seek the Lord:  Look to the rock from which you were hewn and to the quarry from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you; for I called him alone, and blessed him, and multiplied him.  For the Lord shall comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places; He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found in it, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.  (Isaiah 51:1-3 MEV)

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