Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Way Back to Eden: A Passion Week Devotion

Once upon a time, in the beginning of life on this earth, a cunning enemy deceived mankind into believing that there could be life and blessing outside of God's plan and provision. He made them believe that God would actually try to keep something good from them. They began to doubt and mistrust God, and ultimately they stole from Him what was His gift to give at the proper time...


Just as soon as this happened, they realized that this enemy had sold them a counterfeit promise - that pursuing passion, position and possession outside of God's will leads only to shame. They tried to remedy this by covering their bodies with fig leaves...

These coverings that Adam and Eve made came from the work of their hands. They tended the garden. They used what they grew. In other words, they tried to use their work to cover their shame. But it only hindered the intimacy and openness they had in their relationship to one another.

Despite their efforts, to God, all their efforts to fix or hide their own sinful state were inadequate. They couldn't hide what had happened, and they couldn't fix it. There was a cost for breaking God's law. But thankfully, there was also a grace-filled remedy.

They key to understanding the remedy, though, is in looking closely at the curse.

"And I will put enmity between you and the woman
between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head
And you shall bruise him on the heel."
To the woman He said
"I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth,
In pain you will bring forth children;
yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you."
//genesis 3//

Here begins a generational feud that continues even today: the serpent's "seed" - those who, like him, go on their bellies living by counterfeit truth, driven by their appetites that cannot satisfy - verses the "seed" of Eve - those who desire to be in the image of God and have fellowship with Him.

In these cryptic words, God is revealing the future and great hope of mankind. It seems counter-intuitive, but think about it: God could have said, "You know what Eve...you really messed up. I’m done. I’m gonna take another rib from Adam and start over." But He didn’t. Despite her failure, He offered grace and a new opportunity in motherhood. See? Grace is in the Old Testament.

Now Eve, imperfect as she was, would become the emblem of the coming deliverance. She would be the carrier of life, and the painful birth process would be a picture of the divine deliverance of mankind. Rebirth is absolutely a picture of what God is trying to achieve – a motif we see throughout scripture, even used by Jesus. It reminds us that just like labor, being separated from our God is painful. But in the end, there will be a deliverance, new life, hope and joy. Just like Eve, you and I contain the promise of great hope and life within us. Instead of a baby, we call Him Messiah. Instead of our wombs, we carry Him in our hearts.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Then to Adam He said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife,
and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you saying,
"you shall not eat from it’;
Cursed is the ground because of you;
In toil you will eat of it
All the days of your life.
Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you;
And you will eat the plants of the field;
By the sweat of your face
You will eat bread
Till you return to the ground,
Because from it you were taken
For you are dust,
And to dust you shall return." 
//genesis 3//

For man, life would never again be easy. Sin brings pain. Isolation. Discord. Every day would be filled with trials and work. And would ultimately end. But again, if you look carefully at the curse, you find there is hope. If you stop and compare it to the Passion Story, you will find some uncanny connections:

• Jesus embraced the crown of thorns upon his head, a sign that He would willingly bear the curse of the ground to free it.

• Jesus sat in the Garden of Gethsemane and sweat fell from His brow as though it were drops of blood - He labored by the sweat of his face on our behalf.

• Jesus allowed His body to be crushed, beaten and cut off from life. He lived a life of pressure and scrutiny. He endured a violent death. All to become the bread that feeds and fill us fully.

In Him, we can rest from our toil and experience freedom from the curse. He is the only one who could end what began in that garden.

Just like us, Adam and Eve waited for a Savior. For a way back to the garden, into the presence of their God.

He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life. 
//genesis 3//

Interestingly, the cherubim are also connected to the Passion Story. Cherubim are the guardians of God’s glory, the protectors of His throne. In scripture these spiritual beings indicate the presence of God:

• they are found above the mercy seat in the tabernacle
• they are embroidered on the veil of the temple
• they are found in Ezekiel’s vision of God’s throne

Where you see cherubim in the Bible, you see God’s presence nearby.

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom…
Matthew 27:49-50

In the Tabernacle building instructions, God specifically commanded that this veil have cherubim embroidered on it. So when the veil of the temple was torn, the cherubim, guarding the way to God's presence in the holy of holies, fell away. This was a divine sign that Jesus’ death had indeed made a way back to the presence of God, to reunite what had been separated by the sin.

"I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the father but by me."
John 14:6

Jesus, Yeshua, is the total restoration of what was broken in the garden - He is the key to returning to the place of fellowship and intimacy with God - back to Eden. Without Him, there is no other way. Without His sacrifice, His bearing the punishment, there is no hope.

No matter how far you find yourself from that garden, or from God...remember that He loves you so much that enduring death and suffering in innocence were a better choice for Him than to live without you. He gave up everything He had...because He didn't want to give up on you.

As we celebrate our victorious Messiah this week, I pray this inspires and touches your heart. I hope it reminds you of the perfect timing of God, the perfect love of Jesus, the precious mercy of the Father and the wonderful opportunity we have to be a part of that plan.

Trust Him as your Messiah...and come back to the abundant life that was always intended for you...

Blessings to my friends around this world this week - He is risen indeed!

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