He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

Genesis 3: 24

 

God is the one who actually created the status of nomadic traveler, of sojourner, of refugee. He sent Eve and Adam out of the place that He had designed, fabricated, and established for them to dwell in peace and in close communion with Him, and the Lord then expelled them in a moment of frustration and of anger. Or was that really how it went down? God was certainly hurt and frustrated by the way that these people who were so close to Him had rapidly gone off on their own and rebelled against His rather simple and very clear instructions. But, if God knows all, did He not already understand that this was to happen? God’s anger is terrible as has been depicted and demonstrated on many occasions in history, and this scene in Eden does not look anything like that sort of anger being poured out onto these people. Rather, what God does here looks more like love and care than does it appear to be motivated by some darker emotion.

 

God’s real intent and desire in sending them out of the garden and into the harsh environment of the world was redemptive in intent and in nature. Inside of Eden they were living and operating in an environment that was guarded, safe in all ways, and that contained the means for achieving eternity by direct personal action. That is, by eating the fruit of the tree of life. To the east of the garden, the part of the world where they were sent, everything was different. Inside of the garden they were required to work, and this effort was promised to bring forth bounty and to always be rewarding as everything there was done for the sake of God’s kingdom on earth. On the east side, they would also need to work, but the results were far less certain. The sweat of their brows would provide for what they needed to survive most of the time, but their efforts would also see failure, and their spirits would know frustration and pain.

 

The hardships and the challenges that came to Eve and Adam and to all of their descendants was not a form of punishment that God placed upon them. Instead, it was the direct result of their desire to be the ones who were calling all of the shots, to be in control, and to determine the direction that they would go and the means of getting there. They wanted to be like God. What they didn’t realize was that this authority and power carried with it great and terrible responsibility. So, they were sent by God out into the world to experience the weight of that responsibility on their own, and we, as their descendants, also experience what it means to make our way in the eastern regions without God. However, the Lord doesn’t leave us on our own without the ability to come back to Him and into the love, care, and protection of His presence in our lives. Christ runs after our refugee hearts, and He gives Himself in exchange for our souls. As we repent and return to the God of our creation, Christ brings us back into God’s Kingdom and grants us the heart-deep peace of that eternal garden as our new and lasting home.

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