Was the Garden of Eden containing
the Tree of Life left, guarded and impregnable,
as a testimony to what Adam
lost in the Fall?
I had just finished reading the account of Adam’s exile from the Garden in Genesis 3, the flaming swords of the Cherubim guarding the way to the Tree of Life. Then the account of Cain’s crime and his punishment in Genesis 4. He, founding a city, and siring children of great talent and imagination. And I began to wonder about that time and that world. What if…….
It was nearly 800 years since God had closed the way into Eden. Man was flourishing in many ways. He was certainly being fruitful. The population was doubling every 20 years. Even including the losses to war people were multiplying on the earth.
Nahosh looked westward from the hilltop. For hours he had ridden in darkness guided by the reflection of light from the clouds. There was no way he was going to stop until his goal was in sight and his persistence was rewarded because there it was! When he topped the rise, it had nearly blinded him. As his eyes adjusted he was awe struck. Eden! Even from this distance it was painfully bright. The light seemed to flicker and Eden was far larger than he had ever imagined. As he worked to overcome the effects of the first sight of the Garden of God, he thought back to the first time he heard of this place.
The storyteller told him many stories about his grandfather, Adam and about efforts to get the secret of Eden. A young boy in the family of Cain had one advantage—education. He knew his history, and here he was looking at something he had nearly written off as myth. Far too overcome to sleep, he thought back to the storyteller.
The storyteller spoke of days when men had determined that God would not withhold eternal life. There were tales about the efforts to regain Eden beginning not long after his own father had been exiled to be a fugitive and vagabond in the earth.
He remembered a tale of a time early in the third hundred years when men first began calling upon the name of the Lord. A group of men devoted to prayer and sacrifice sought to prove that God in his mercy would allow them back into the Garden. They had set up a huge, ornate altar as close as they dared to the path of the flaming swords of the Cherubim. They prayed and sacrificed to God to reopen the way. But it was to no avail. As fruitless years passed, the movement got stranger. Getting more and more religious about the ritual they used and more and more particular about just what they chose to sacrifice. They even had their followers convinced that they knew what God wanted even though for decades there was absolutely no proof that God approved of their religious ritual in any way.
They decided they would have better results if they paid their sacrifice directly to the Cherubim. Instead of animals they began to use virgins. Few were willing, and the leaders thought it looked bad for the sacrifice to be burned screaming curses at them. So they switched to babies. There was less resistance and the parents were willing to give them up if it meant eternal life for themselves. Still the failure was beginning to have its effect.
So the leaders planned one final great sacrifice that even God could not ignore.
They laid one hundred babies on the great altar and lit the fire of sacrifice. As the flames reached their peak a great wind seemed to fuel that fire and they knew that God had at last gotten the message. A great swirling inferno rose, it seemed, nearly to the clouds.
Then, suddenly, it blew downward over the entire assemblage, engulfing them. Everyone was screaming and trying to run from the flames. Then the earth opened and swallowed every last one, altar and all, closing again sealing the tomb. Their end, it seemed, was experiencing the beginning of the wrath of God.
After that a rage against God grew. That He would wipe out those who seemed to be trying to please Him was an affront. Intolerable! The leaders of this movement convinced thousands that if they banded together they could overcome the two Cherubim. Groups of men even small groups had overcome giants so why should they believe they could not hold their own against these creatures, though they were admittedly fearful to even think about. The prize was surely worth the most valiant effort they could mount.
The battle had taken only minutes. There was no way even the most skilled storyteller could make the tale grand. It had been a horrendous slaughter. The army had planned a full frontal assault. An all out charge at a dead run both mounted and on foot along a front five thousand cubits long. God would surely admire their bravery, and almost certainly reward it. They would have the secret of Eden by midday. This plan had ensured a very short battle, that much was certain. They just couldn’t believe how short. The Grand Army of Life, as it was called, marched to within one hundred cubits of the flickering barrier. At the sound of the horns they charged as fast and hard as they could run. They would not be denied!
Bodies, limbs, armor, weapons and animals were burned and sheared asunder and the flickering flaming swords of the Cherubim weren’t even slowed. None had survived. Not one. Those in front had fallen so quickly that those behind had no chance to even slow down before they too, were cut to pieces.
No, the “Grand Army of Life” had been turned into a spectacle of death and after that, very little effort or thought was given to getting into Eden. “Let God keep his secret,” they said. Once in a while a burned, sliced body was discovered and the finder just shook his head. “Another fool for life,” they said. Not that any one would turn away from even a hint that the secret had been found. Naturally as a young boy, that had seemed very exciting but not very real. Now it was real. So real he was shaking.
No matter……He was far from being the first born of Cain. His father was busy with governing a city which was fast becoming a magnet for men seeking everything, from tools and weapons, to musical instruments and wives. So, little notice was taken of the umteenth child of one of the most important men on earth, the founder of the first city, and first merchant/trader.
Older brothers had specialized in metal working, art, music, all those things that brought recognition, fame and riches. To get any recognition, he would have to do something really special. What that might be was given to him when he overheard a son of Seth boasting of his exploits in the west.
This warrior, Majael, was seeking a wife and the reputation of the women of the city of Enoch for their beauty was unsurpassed. In telling of his exploits, he mentioned a battle that had taken place so near Eden that it never got dark. They had fought until the enemy fled, too exhausted to carry on the battle.
Oh, how he hated them, these insufferable warrior sons of Seth. They came into his city and took of the most beautiful women, whosoever they wanted. And the women! Falling all over themselves to be chosen! As if the local men were worthless. Well, one day he would show them! Show them ALL!
Nahosh had listened closely and gotten enough information, that he was certain he could find it, and here he was, looking at the fable. To be unafraid of the power displayed here, one would have to be…. No! There are no words. One simply could not fail to be overcome by this display of the power of Almighty God on earth.
Now, seeing the Garden for himself, he knew it was all true. He was looking at the place God had sealed up to protect the Tree of Life. He had exiled Adam and Eve after they had eaten of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God had exiled them to keep them from eating of the Tree of Life after they had sinned against Him.
Of course Nahosh had received a slanted version of the story. God was cruel to have locked man out of Eden, and one day someone would find a way to get back in and get to the Tree of Life and bring out its secret. That man would be the greatest man ever. So, he was up with the dawn light. It was still many hours travel to Eden, and he had plans to make.
He had planned on just sneaking in, stealing the fruit and gone, one, two, three. No problem. That was hours ago when Eden was on the horizon and the light was very bright and flickering. Now he was close. He was following a river bank hiding in the lush growth along its edge.
It was obvious that his plan was not going to work. What was flickering from that rise hours ago was now flashing, flaming swords that had barely flashed by and were flashing by again and the flames kept the ground bare for cubits beyond the their path. Waves of heat made clear view impossible and the flaming swords were an impenetrable barrier.
He was fast beginning to understand that he was setting himself up to go against God if he was to steal the secret of Eden. He wondered how he could succeed against the Creator of not only all that he could see, but he himself. It seemed hopeless.
He looked at the river. It seemed completely unaffected as it flowed from inside the shield. The current was very slow at this spot and he suddenly knew the route in. The secret was practically in his grasp. He removed the heavy blade from his belt, knowing it would be unnecessary inside and slid down into the cool water. He would swim in under that curtain of certain death and be gone again before even God knew what happened!
He took a few deep breaths to prepare and then held the last one. He ducked beneath the surface and struck out strongly toward the light filtering down from the surface. Just a few more seconds and he would be through. He could hear the accolades. Nahosh, the man who brought out the secret of Eden! He would have riches untold! Even the grudging admiration of his father and older brothers would be his.
Majael and his new wife were heading west toward his home. This great warrior had little to fear, even traveling alone. He was following a path that, as the population grew, was becoming a main route of travel and trade between the city of Enoch, the small agricultural villages to the west and new cities springing up in a fertile valley far to the south.
He was one of a group of men who protected those traveling in areas known to be dangerous. Where roving bands of men would take what they wanted. They were cowardly and rarely would fight to take anything, but if opportunity presented itself in the form of a lone traveler who looked as if he could be easily overcome, they could be merciless.
In the near distance, Majael spied what looked like a man lying beside the path. As he approached he could see that the man was not in good shape. Burned, and bleeding from wounds head to toe, this young man was badly injured. But instead of groaning and writhing in pain, he was sobbing, deep, racking sobs of unbearable, heartfelt loss, as if the wounds were nothing, and there was little response at first as Majael and his new bride began tending the wounds. The young man hardly seemed to know he was hurt, so great seemed his sense of loss.
Nahosh could hold his breath no longer. As his head came out of the water he gasped in needed air as quietly as he could. Then it registered. Paradise! Beauty! Not just beauty seen with the eyes. Beauty that penetrates to the heart—indescribable, soul warming, loving beauty!
In that same moment the gut wrenching, horrifying, terrible sense of naked shame threatened to rip him apart. In that instant, he knew. God had allowed him to see what his grandfather and he himself and indeed all of mankind had lost.
He felt himself cast out, flying through the air, he could not tell how far, and landing hard rolling over and over. He knew his body was seriously hurt but that was hardly a concern. For God had allowed him to see the sinner he was, and what separation from Him truly meant. He was crushed, lost, afraid and finally penitent. He was sorry and he was changed.
Coming to himself, he felt the gasps that follow uncontrollable sobbing. For the first time he was able to recognize the aid Majael had given him. His wounds were treated and bound.
Majael had heard of wounds like this before, but had never heard of one surviving them. The Cherubim took their mission to protect the way to the Garden and the Tree of Life deadly serious. If this one had survived it was by the direct intervention and mercy of God Himself. The look in the eyes of this wounded man gave away the fact that he also knew that to be true.
Nahosh, beginning to gather his wits and realize the mercy shown him by God, knew that from this moment on his life would be a witness to the love of God, and His mercy.
And the secret of Eden?
He had seen it, felt it, and knew it intimately. God was not cruel to withhold the gift of eternal life from fallen mankind, but unbelievably merciful. Think of a man in bondage to sin forever without end. There would be no salvation and no mercy. There would be eternal separation from God. The secret of Eden is the mercy of God, and His plan to reunite His people to Him.
One day the Tree of Life would be revealed to all mankind. Nahosh didn’t know how that would happen but he knew that the love of God would provide the way. He now knew that no matter what he had heard before, the God who had exiled his grandparents and guarded the way to the Tree of Life had done so out of Love and not out of vengeance. His plan would take time, perhaps many lifetimes. But one day in God’s time every soul that had ever lived would know what he knew at this moment.
Nahosh had felt the glory of holiness and experienced the abomination of sin. He knew his life was forever changed and embraced that change.
If you want to feel the glory of holiness you must first embrace the change God has wrought in your heart. “If I become a Christian I’ll have to give up everything I like!” is no longer an excuse. Why? Figure it out! Our Christian life is a process of renewing our minds!