Near my home there is a pond, otherwise known as a retention area in Florida, in a strip mall which has some interesting residents. There are ducks living in this pond. All kinds of ducks live in this pond and live off of scraps from the Chinese restaurant, McDonalds and bread that people bring to feed them. These ducks at one point were in migration to another destination and got suckered into living “the good life” of easy food. The ducks now have been living there for generations! Every year we see the little baby ducks that will live their lives totally different than the Lord created them to live. Their parents made a choice and it has affected their little lives forever.
This story is similar to the story of Adam and Eve in our first Torah portion, Bereshit, as we begin to read the Torah again later this year. A choice is made and then it impacts generations. In Genesis 3 we see the story unfold. The serpent entices the woman to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Then we see in v. 9 the Lord calling to man, “Where are you?” I find this verse to be heartbreaking. God knew where they were, but, he asks them “where are you” because he wants them to come forth! He wants them to confess their sin. In v. 8 we also see that the Lord didn’t quickly confront Adam and Eve. He waited. Later, after they created the coverings, the Lord chose to speak to them when He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day. As parents, don’t we want our children to come forward, confess and repent? God is no different. It’s as if He is giving them an opportunity to make it right. Then, in vv12-13 we see the blame game. There is no repentance to what they did wrong. God has no recourse, but, to remove them from the garden. In v. 23-24 we read what the Lord had to do;
The Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.
I have always wondered what it was like that first day when they left the garden. My poor ducks in the retention pond don’t know what they are missing, but, Adam and Eve knew. In a source not canonized, there is much written about the expulsion of Adam and Eve and what they experienced. In “The First book of Adam and Eve”, in chapter 4:1-2 we get a glimpse; “But Adam and Eve wept for having come out of the garden, their first abode. And, indeed, when Adam looked at his flesh, that was altered, he wept bitterly, he and Eve, over what they had done.” Everything now was different. It wasn’t just that they had a new home but, the way they would live their lives because of the decision they made in the garden was going to be different. Their very bodies were altered. Life was going to be difficult and radically different than what they were used to.
But, there is an interesting point that we don’t think about. Even though they were no longer in the garden they weren’t abandoned by God. Their descendants had God interacting with them throughout the biblical narrative. Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and Yeshua continue to show His faithfulness. He didn’t and hasn’t forgotten us!
He has a plan for us to return back to the garden. When we look at “The First book of Adam and Eve”, chapter 10:8 it says; “But God said unto Adam, “I have made thee a promise; when that promise is fulfilled, I will bring thee back into the garden, thee and thy righteous seed.”
God promises us also in Isaiah 35:10;
And the ransomed of the Lord will return and come with joyful shouting to Zion, with everlasting joy upon their heads. They will find gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
A long time ago the songwriter Joni Mitchell wrote: “We are stardust, We are golden. And we’ve got to get ourselves, Back to the garden.” Our God provides the ultimate sacrifice that covers our sins and makes a way back to the beautiful Garden of Eden. The truth is that our God has made the way, and all we have to do is accept His way back!