By Larry Short
And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life. (Genesis 3:22–24)
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In Pulse (Elim’s young adults group) different leaders moderate a verse-by-verse chapter study each Friday night. Participants have developed a rather silly tradition whereby when nearly any question is asked, they might playfully shout out, “The answer is Jesus!” and everyone laughs.
I suppose we’ve encouraged this unruly behavior. When we studied the book of Genesis last year, we did so through the lens, “Where do we see Jesus in this chapter?” That question would be asked after each and every chapter, and always spawned a great discussion. As it turns out, “Jesus” usually is the right answer!
Jesus shows up in some surprising places in the Old Testament, if you look carefully for Him. While in my 20s, I wrote a novel speculating about some of the circumstances leading up to the great Flood of Genesis 6-7. In it I wonder aloud about whether it was Christ Himself, a mysterious figure known to earth’s early inhabitants as “The Guardian,” who wielded the flaming sword at the gate of Eden. My novel, Fountains of the Deep (available to Elimites this weekend only as a free download on Amazon—visit my website for details), is a work of fiction, but one cannot help but question exactly Who the guardian of the gate of Eden might have been when one reads passages such as John’s account of seeing the transfigured Christ in Revelation 1:12–13:
I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man … coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
Many Bible scholars believe Christophanies (a physical manifestation of the Son of God) abound in the Old Testament. Whether Jesus was present among those guarding the gate of the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3 may be a matter of fanciful speculation. There is one gate, however, we know Jesus guards closely, and it’s the gate to God’s sheep pen. In John 10:9 Jesus says:
I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.
Eden was designed to be a place of eternal fellowship with God. Man broke that fellowship when he disobeyed God, so God appointed a flaming sword (representing throughout Scripture His Word, which is also the very name for Christ bestowed in John 1) to bar a mankind that had repudiated God from dwelling in a holy place of perfect fellowship with God.
That’s the state you and I were in … until that same Word became the Gate once again! Now, as a result of His blood shed for us, He becomes (according to John 10) a Gate designed to admit His sheep into perfect fellowship in God’s presence, rather than keeping them out! The future is bright indeed for those who reenter this particular gate. And the ticket is simply an obedient, listening ear of faith.
Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice.” Are you listening for the voice of the Good Shepherd, the Guardian of the Gate? Would you know it, if you heard it? If you’ve never yet done this, commit yourself today to following Him with all your heart back into a place of perfect communion with the eternal God. It’s a simple step of faith, and you can take it today, regardless of your life circumstances. Please don’t put it off; call the church office or any pastor or elder. We would love to help you take that life-changing step!