(see Part One, “…Lest Ye Die”)
“…law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.” (Romans 4:15, KJV )
If no laws existed, either external or internal, to tell us that it’s wrong for a person to, say, steal your newspaper from the front step, then what would your reaction be if that happened ? If you didn’t ‘know’ that such an act was wrong, why would you become angry? You wouldn’t. There would be no wrath present. It is the knowledge of the law that produces the wrath.
Wrath, or anger, when strong enough, or bottled up long enough, can kill you. High blood pressure, stroke, heart attacks can be, and are caused by excessive anger. Anger can also kill by degrees, in that the stress of it on your system damages its well-being, depleting your health, thus, your life. Or, it can kill someone else. You’ve heard of crimes of passion. Road rage. Persons furiously blurting out, when tempers are flaring, “I could kill you!” So the knowledge of the law produces the wrath that, one way or another, can produce death.
In some ways, ignorance IS bliss!
So, there needs to be a way out. (I”m sorry, did someone say ‘Way’? Hmmm…I’ve heard it said that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life) (John 14:6). Wait! Did I say ‘life’? In the garden, (see previous post) besides the tree of knowledge of good and evil there also was present the tree of Life. The LORD God did not originally warn the First Couple against partaking of that fruit. Scripture tells us that there were also many other ‘trees’, all pleasant to look at and good for food, none of which were off-limits. Only the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
There was a choice, there were options.
I’ve heard it taught that neither Eden, nor Adam and Eve, ever actually existed, and that this account of the downfall in the garden was intended to embody truth, principles, etc. I’ve heard this taught by a preacher whom I respected, and still do. I personally take the Genesis account of creation literally. I acknowledge symbolism may be present, as well. (It is true, however, that with the Lord, anything is possible.) So, going forward in a literal garden…
Once the first man and woman had partaken of forbidden knowledge, God had a problem. The humans weren’t equipped to handle such awareness. It appears to me to have been an act of mercy that Adam and Eve were removed from Eden, and the Cherubims and a flaming sword ‘which turned every way’ were placed ‘to keep the way of the tree of life’ (Genesis 3: 24), “…lest he (Adam)…take…and eat, and live for ever” (v.23). My conjecture here is that living forever with such tortuous knowledge would have been a form of hell for the couple, and all who came thereafter. God mercifully blocked their way. But in driving them out of Eden, He also set in motion His plan of the ages, to help all of us make our way back. Back to ‘Eden’, back to liberty, back to God.
Now, if any of you are still with me! here is where I need to ask you to take a leap of faith…hold on, here we go….!
In the New Testament book of Hebrews,the image of a two-edged sword is used to describe the word of God. In my mind, then, I see this flaming sword turning every which way as possibly a form of truth, powerful and contained in words spoken deftly, guarding and preserving that which is the most cherished, that which is most to be desired – life and liberty as God intended it
to be. I have watched some pastors preaching, and thought, they are that flaming sword, guarding the truth from the lies and attacks of enemies.
When I first started reading about Thomas Jefferson, about his multi-faceted, swiftly changing persona, “the elements of his thought and character assum[ing] different patterns and shadows from encounter to encounter, crisis to crisis, moment to moment” (R.B. Bernstein, Introduction, Thomas Jefferson), I kept getting this overlaid impression of a flaming sword turning every way, placed east of Eden.