The Way Back Home
January 8, 2017
Let us boast greatly today in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. For today’s scripture holds a great anticipation of the wonderful person and the promised work of Christ.
The close of Genesis 3 is a big moment that marks the end of the beginning and the beginning of the end. Everything leading up to verse 24 is about creation and the fall of Adam. Everything after verse 24 is about redemption and the glory that is to come.
Think about Adam and Eve’s first day away from Eden, outside of the blessed presence of God, and take a deep breath. For everything that comes afterward, all the remaining 1,189 chapters in the Bible, is simply about one thing and one thing only: the way back home. Or to be more precise, the way back to what Adam would have gotten had he obeyed God. The way back to entering a perfect communion with God. The way back to being clothed with righteousness and glory. The way back to being rewarded with the tree of life.
When the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them, we see a profound picture of the promised messiah. You see, Adam and Eve were always meant to be clothed. They were meant to be clothed in righteousness and glory - in a righteousness of his own doing and in a glory of his own earning. But Adam failed the test. And so, instead, Adam and all of us were clothed with sin and shame.
But the good news of Jesus Christ is that he would provide another clothing for us to wear. He would give us his garments of righteousness for us to put on. And he would take our rags of sin and put it on himself. Out of his great love for you, he became sin, who knew no sin, so that you might put on his righteousness. Now, you don’t have to sew fig leaves together or make your own loincloths. Now, you never have to ask the question, “How do I look?”
When the LORD God placed the cherubim and a flaming sword at the east of Eden to guard the way to the tree of life, we again see a profound picture of the promised messiah. The flaming sword represents God’s justice against sin and wrath against any attempt to get to the tree of life. It is this sword that came down upon Jesus Christ at Calvary. It is, as one theologian put it, “the sword of God’s dreadful wrath, the sword of divine justice wielded by his infinite power, flaming with holy abhorrence of the filthiness of sin and sharpened by a divine resentment of the affront to his holy majesty” that came down upon Jesus Christ. And now, for us, there is no more sword. The way to the tree of life is now open.
Before, Joshua saw a man standing before him at Jericho with a drawn sword in his hand. Now, the disciples saw two men standing before them but with no swords drawn. Instead, the two men said, “He is not here, but has risen.” Before, cherubim - winged, animal-like creatures that represented God’s holy presence and glorious kingship - were skillfully woven into the curtains of the tabernacle and temple. Now, the curtain of the temple has been torn in two. The cherubim and the flaming sword that the LORD God placed at the east of Eden to guard the way to the tree of life are gone for you. They are gone because of the person and work of Jesus Christ. Now, you don’t have to be afraid before God. Now, you never have to ask the question, “Will I really make it to heaven?”
And it is no small thing that the Apostle Peter and the Apostle Paul so poetically describe the cross of Christ as a tree. It is written in 1 Peter 2:24 these words: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” It is written in Galatians 3:13 these words: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us - for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree….’” The manner in which Christ died was not random. It was so meaningful. He did not die by the stone. He did not die in water. He died on a tree.
And now, we have the tree of life. We have the future reward for the original covenant of works. We have the promise of sabbath rest and perfect communion with God. We have the prospect of eternal life in a new heavens and a new earth. We have what Adam failed to achieve. We have what we could never achieve on our own. And we know that all of this is true because the tree of life is in full bloom in the book of Revelation. Now it yields fruit. Now its leaves are for the healing of the nations. Now the way to it is open. Now, there is a way back home… through the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Brothers and sisters, no human being has fully gone home yet. Abraham, the Apostle Paul, and your grandparents who believed in Jesus - they all died. None of them ever reached the east of Eden. But they all died in faith. They all died knowing that they would one day enter into a perfect communion with God. They all died knowing that they would one day be clothed with righteousness and glory. They all died knowing that they would one day receive the reward of the tree of life. And one day, when Jesus comes back, they will all rise again from the dead. And then they will be fully back home. So will you.
In closing, let us have great anticipation of the end of the end and the beginning of the new heavens and the new earth. As we close this series of Genesis, let us remember the big picture of everything. And as we live out the remaining days on this old and fading earth, I hope that you would sincerely want to go back home. I hope that you would want to go back… to the future.
He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!