So the Lord God sent him away from the Garden of Eden, to work the soil from which he was taken.  He drove the man out, and stationed east of the Garden of Eden the cherubim and the fiery ever-turning sword, to guard the way to the Tree of Life (Genesis 3:23-24).

In the Garden, man’s role was to “work it and keep it”.  A simple reading of this is that man is placed in the garden to work the garden, not the “soil” and its vegetation in general.  It was after the man had been turfed out of the garden that he was to “work the soil from which he had been taken”.  Adam was created from the earth outside of the Garden.  It was after that, that God placed him into the Garden.  So from dust Adam returns to dust, the earth outside the Garden in the first instance; but it speaks ultimately of Man’s impending physical death (Genesis 3:19; Ecclesiastes 3:20).  Humanity’s expulsion from the Garden would serve as a foreshadowing and warning to Israel (Deuteronomy 28:1-14).  Disobedience would bring discipline to the Israelites (Deuteronomy 29:15-68), and even expulsion from the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 28:64-68).

We can perhaps see ourselves in the first humans concerning their failure to take responsibility for their sin.  We excuse ourselves saying things like, “its human nature”.  Actually, it is “fallen” human nature to behave in such a manner.

God planted a Garden in the East, in Eden.  When the humans were thrust out into the world (see also Matthew 9:38; Luke 10:2), God placed the Cherubim on the east side of the Garden (3:24).  It is the Middle East, and in particular, the place where God has put His name, that the eyes of the world are focussed on today.  When Cain was sent eastward as a consequence of his sin (Genesis 4:6), he went out from God’s presence and travelled eastward of Eden.  He went on to live in the land of Nod.  Descriptively, Nod means “wandering”.  Humankind moved even further east to Babylon where they built the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:2).  Their project was not one to bring glory to God, but one to “make a name” for themselves.  Moving away from God, as the world today is doing, will bring destruction, leading on to the end.  God came down at Babel (Genesis 11:5, 7).  Jesus will come down to make all things new (Acts 1:9-11; Revelation 1:7; Daniel 7:13).  He will judge the living and the dead (2 Acts 10:42; Timothy 4:1; Acts 17:31).

In the Genesis text we discover that rebellion against God leads to enslavement, not freedom as the first humans desired and expected.  The quest for independence, autonomy, and control over their own lives dissipates rapidly as they face the new, harsh reality of life outside of the Garden, and away from God’s presence.  The pleasures of sin are for a short time.  We have a dramatic illustration of this in the Fall (In contrast, see Hebrews 11:25, where Moses chose God’s way).  The idea of becoming like God is a contagion of Humanism, and the Last Days condition of humans; a condition of deception, leading to the ultimate deception when the Man of Sin reveals himself to be God, and demands to be worshipped as God.  The serpent will not only speak like the humans, he will appear as a human, deceiving as he deceived Isha, who then became Eve.  The sin in the Garden led humans away from God, and the Last Days deception will lead humankind away from God, and on to the final destruction.

According to the British Social Attitudes Survey, in 1983, 66% of Brits described themselves as Christian; that was two-thirds of those surveyed.  In 2019, the figure has dropped to just one-third, 38%.  The collapse in Christian belief has been accompanied by a rise in atheism.  The report states:

The past two decades have seen international conflict involving religion and domestic religious organisations putting themselves at odds with mainstream values. Against this backdrop, we compare religious identification, behaviour and belief among the British public. We find a dramatic decline in identification with Christian denominations, particularly the Church of England; a substantial increase in atheism and in self-description as “very” or “extremely” non-religious; and very low confidence in religious organisations, but tolerance of religious difference.

Our Secular Humanist State has produced, and placed its own flaming sword constructed, to my mind at least, from iron and clay.  It is being used to block the way to the Tree of Life, namely, Jesus.  Preaching the Gospel, belief in God, and the Bible, are becoming increasingly taboo.  The so-called “tolerant” society is intolerant of true belief and faith in God.  Obeying God’s Word of taking the Gospel into all the world, is resisted.  The fiery sword of intolerance of all that is Truth, determines to block the way.  The youth of today are being robbed of the opportunity to know God.  Strangely, the tolerant world is travelling toward the intolerant religion of the Middle East, Islam.  British Christians, being law abiding citizens, tend to shut down when it comes to speaking of Jesus, because it’s not PC.  Apart from the malaise Christians are going through, there is a general fear of the consequences of speaking about Jesus.  When we do this, we are, what someone described in a comment on my previous article (“Not so silent Killers”), silent killers!  Preaching the Gospel is not an option; it is a responsibility given to us by God.  It is grafting and working the soil, where there are thorns and thistles.  Death came to humans in Genesis, and God thrust man out to work the soil.  Jesus exhorts us to pray that the Father thrust out workers (Matthew 9:38); workers that will show the way to Life and Peace with God.  For, “we have this treasure in earthen vessels” (2 Corinthians 4:7).  The idea of the human body as a vessel of clay, which ultimately turns to dust is evident in Job (4:19; 10:9; 33:6), and Isaiah (64:8).

After God drove out the human from the Garden – meaning He drove him out completely, with no possibility of his returning, God placed Cherubim with a fiery, ever turning sword, to guard the way to the “Tree of Life” (3:24).  The task of guarding the Garden was taken from the man and given to the Cherubim.  The man was banished towards the east, and it was the east of the Garden where the Cherubim were placed.  In Ezekiel Ch 28 the being that inhabited the Garden of Eden and sinned there and was banished from it, was a cherub, not the man.  It is a difficult passage of Scripture as first the king of Tyre is addressed (Ezekiel 28:1-10), then the attention shifts to describing the actual power behind the throne (vv.11-19).  In this section the prophet was not speaking to the literal king of Tyre, but rather to the supernatural being that empowered the king, the same power that had been in Eden – Satan.  Satan’s initial punishment was of a similar nature to the Man’s chastisement.  Before Eden and the Fall of Man, Satan was expelled from the position of God’s anointed cherub before God’s throne.  He was expelled from the mountain of God (Heaven: cf.vv.14, 16).  Satan was cast from God’s presence in Heaven (Luke 10:18), but was still able to access God (Job 1:6-12; Zechariah 3:1-2).  The cherubim feature in the Tabernacle and Temple.  Cherubim shaded the Ark with their wings (Exodus 25:2; 1 Kings 6:25); others adorned the Tabernacle hangings as well as the Temple doors (Exodus 26:1, 31; 1 Kings 6:32-36).  The use of the word vayashken in placing the cherubim in Eden recalls the word, “mishkan”, “tabernacle”.  There, the Divine presence hovers above the cherubim.  God’s word speaks, not only of the present, but on into the future as does the promise in Genesis 3:15.  A further parallel is that in Ezekiel 28:14, where the prophet speaks of Eden and the Temple, built on a mountaintop.  Some view Man’s role in the Garden to be similar to his role in the Tabernacle, and in the Temple.  The human was put in the Garden to work it and care for it – le’avdah uleshamrah (Genesis 2:15).  They connect le’avda uleshamrah with the verses “You shall serve(taavdun) God on this mountain (Exodus 3:12) and take care (tishmeru) to sacrifice to Me in due time” (Numbers 28:2).  Another comparison is, God’s perpetual presence in the Garden of Eden is expressed though the verb, “mithalekh” (Genesis 3:8).  The same verb is used to describe God’s presence in the Tabernacle – “I will be ever present (vehithalakhti) in your midst” (Leviticus 26:11-12).

Cain’s departure from “out of the Lord’s presence is both geographical and spiritual, similar to that of Jonah and his flight “out of the presence of the Lord” (Jonah 1:3).  Man, as we have noted, continued to spiritually and geographically travel east, away from the presence of the Lord.  Terah, Abram’s father, was the first one in the Bible to reverse this eastward direction – he “set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan” (Genesis 11:31), revealing a desire in his heart to draw closer to God.  Messiah, at His Second Coming, will finally reverse this eastward direction, when “the glory of God” will return to the Temple “from the way of the east” (Ezekiel 43:2).  There, He will establish His throne, and “dwell” for all eternity (Ezekiel 44:7).

Spiritually, the entire West (where once the Gospel found fertile soil) is moving east.  Britain has known the Gospel, and has experienced the power, protection, and provision of God.  It is a great tragedy today, to witness one’s own nation moving further and further away, out from God’s presence.  The forces of evil tighten the grip on hearts that have chosen to defy the Living God; hearts that are bound in rebellion.  Britain’s situation is particularly precarious and dangerous, because there comes a point when God Himself hardens the hearts of those that have hardened their hearts towards Him.  A door was opened to Britain in 2016.  We have chosen to turn our backs on the opportunity God gave us.  An unrighteous nation cannot serve a righteous God. Fissures of unrighteousness are opening wide in every direction, and in every corner of the land.  The Church waits pensively to see whether or not Britain will leave the EU at the end of October.  Instead, we should be attacking the highways and byways with the Gospel.  There are enough believing Christians in the UK to make a difference; but sitting on our backsides praying for someone else to go, won’t cut it.  Do we want to see the end come?  When will the end come?  “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).  We must be prepared to preach God’s Word, and we must preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.  This age is coming to an end and the Kingdom of God is being ushered in.  We must be prepared for persecution and the great tribulation; and we must prepare for the coming of the Lord.

Blessings and shalom,

Malcolm [15.07.2019]