Updated: Oct 24, 2022
In the book of Genesis we are given the details of creation in a limited edition, but we are told even less about man's real purpose. We can dig deeper throughout scripture and find out more details.
We are expressly told in Genesis that human beings, the crown of God's creation, had at least 3 purposes and responsibilities. The first one is easy enough and it was to be fruitful and multiply. The second one requires some digging for details but is still pretty straight forward and that one was to subdue/have dominion over the earth. It is the third one which poses the most difficult exegesis and it was to guard and to keep the garden. What was the real divine purpose of this command and how deep were the consequences of disobedience, not just for Adam and Eve, but for all of humankind, and when and how did God fix their failure to obey this command? I will seek to answer these questions.
In this early point of creation there would have been no weeds or similar problems for Adam and Eve to have to fight against the soil within the garden so what does the scripture mean that they had to keep and guard it? If it didn't mean planting, tilling, pruning, and otherwise maintaining their habitat then what exactly was contained within the Creator's command? At this point, you see, the Creator had given them everything they needed or could hope to need for their existence and it was all within easy reach. So, we must dig a little deeper to get a grasp on this third command.
A simple Hebrew word analysis provides our beginning insight. The words guard and keep, or similar words used in different translations, mean to “guard, protect, build a hedge around, observe, watchman” and “to serve”. When we look at another place in the Torah where these two words are used together in the same scripture we will find that Elohim was speaking to the priests/Levites regarding their tabernacle service.
Numbers 3:7-8 And they shall keep* his charge, and the charge of the whole congregation before the tent of meeting, to do* the service of the tabernacle. And they shall keep all the furniture of the tent of meeting, and the charge of the children of Israel, to do the service of the tabernacle.
We can find these two words all throughout the Torah regarding the priests and Levites and their tabernacle service to the LORD. From this a conclusion could be made that Adam and Eve were priests in the garden and they were to serve the Creator in righteousness and they were to protect/observe or be a watchman over the Garden where God had placed them. But why? What were they really trying to protect or guard? Let's dig a little deeper.
In Genesis 2:8-9 we read that Elohim planted a garden “to the east” in Eden. In Hebrew eden means “pleasure”. We find that God placed man in the garden and that the garden, of course, had many trees growing in it but two are mentioned: The Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The Tree of Life is said to have been in the midst, or middle, of the garden. It was the focal point of the Garden. From scriptures like Ezekiel 28:13-14 it would appear that the Garden of Eden was on a mountain called the mountain of Elohim, the Garden of Eden, and the Garden of Elohim.
Strikingly this all seems to be set up like a temple to the Most High Elohim. The creation story has divisions just like the temple. The garden was set-apart from the rest of the earth. Notice the similarities:
The Temple on earth:
The whole land mass of earth
The land of Israel
The Temple on the mountain of Elohim
The inner sanctuary
The Temple faced east
The only door was to the east
The Creation Story:
The whole land mass of earth
The land of Eden
The Garden of Eden on a mountain of Elohim
The midst (or separated) of the garden containing the Tree of Life
The garden was in the east of Eden
The garden's door was to the east
Inside the temple was the holy of holies where the presence of Elohim dwelt. Inside the garden, and more specifically the midst of the garden, was where the presence of God dwelt with Adam and Eve.
In Genesis 3:8 after they ate from the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they heard the voice of God walking in the garden.. ..and they hid themselves from the presence (face) of the LORD among the trees of the garden”.
In Genesis 3:23-24 we find the consequences of their rebellion. We find that they were “cast out” from the garden. In Hebrew this word means “to drive out from a possession, to put away/divorce”. Then Elohim places cherubim with flaming swords at the entrance of the garden (which was eastward) to prevent Adam and Eve from entering the garden.
The cherubim were placed there not just to keep them out of the garden but one reason is given in scripture (verse 24) and that was to guard (same word used at beginning of lesson) “THE WAY OF THE TREE OF LIFE”.
THE WAY (derek)! The Creator took away from them ETERNAL LIFE! Stop here and let that sink in for it is the basis of their divine purpose. They were to guard and protect, as priests, the WAY OF LIFE!The way of life was given to only those who “obeyed” but now that they had rebelled they no longer had access to the Tree of Life! The Torah calls it the “derech etz hachayim” - the way of the tree of life!
I must say here that man was created. He was made from the dust of the earth. He was created in mortality not immortality. Mankind is not nor ever has been immortal. Immortality denotes no beginning or end and means life within itself. Scripture states that only Elohim is immortal. Man can be given eternal life/deathlessness from his Creator but only God determines this eternal life and who receives it. Mankind does not have an immortal soul instead we are a soul. A soul in Hebrew simply means a “living, breathing creature”. All breathing creatures are a soul. When the breath of life is removed from our corruptible bodies at death we cease to exist forever. The only way that we will ever live again is for God to place within us His breath of life again. See Genesis 2:7, I Timothy 6:16, James 2:26, I Corinthians 15:53-54 by studying out the words in concordances.
The Creator blocked their “way” to The Tree of Eternal Life so they would not live forever in a rebellious state of sin.
In the creation story God creates. He creates with a desire to have a place to dwell, a place to abide with His creation in an intimate way. He creates humans and calls them to be holy/set apart; made in His holy/set apart image. He gives them everything and although created in mortality He gives them a way to have eternal life but only under the condition of obedience. Mankind fails so the Creator divorces them and sends them from His intimate presence (face) outside the garden; hence they lose their “WAY” to the tree of eternal life.
Even though they were now “put away” from the way of life they still lived in Eden. They were no longer priests serving the Most High. They were no longer His set-apart servants as they had been before. They had been created to have dominion over the whole earth and to bring forth children intent on being holy and to continue to serve the Most High in holiness but they failed Him through their disobedience.
After their fall Elohim institutes another way for mankind to come back to the way of the tree of life. How? In Genesis cherubim blocked the way back to the tree of life. Where next in the Torah do we find cherubim? Cherubim covered the lid of the ark of the covenant within the Tabernacle in the wilderness. What was contained within the ark? The teachings and instructions of the Most High. These cherubim guarded the ark and His presence within the Holy of Holies. We also find that images of two cherubim were embroidered on the veil which separated the most holy place from the holy place. Images of cherubim were also embroidered in the tent covering of the inner sanctuary. We also find the cherubim in the book of Revelation in the midst of the throne of Elohim.
Cherubim are said to be the protectors of the throne of God and His holiness. I have a teaching series about them on Our Ancient Paths YouTube channel so see those teachings for more info.
In Jewish understanding the Torah is called “the tree of life”. In the book of Proverbs where Torah is referred to as wisdom, she is called a tree of life 3 times.
She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is everyone that retains her (Proverbs 3:18).
Adam and Eve failed as priests so Elohim called the nation of Israel to be His bride and a kingdom of priests to Him at the foot of Mt. Sinai in Genesis chapter 19. As a nation they accepted but then they immediately failed. So, then Elohim chose Aaron and his descendants to be priests before Him. Aaron and His descendants were to protect the Presence within the Holy of Holies. Only once a year could the High Priest enter behind the inner veil and see YHVH “face to face'.
So, we see the cherubim still guarding the way to the tree of life within the tabernacle and still not everyone had access but only those whom He chose, but Elohim had once again established a way for His set-apart people to have the way of eternal life again and that was through His Torah.
Leviticus 18:5 – And you shall guard (there is that word again) my laws and my right-rulings, which if a man does and lives by them. I am YHVH!
When the nation of Israel completely rebelled against Elohim until their cup was full of their evil doings then we find that God had to do what He had promised to do to them. His presence departed from the Temple and he even divorces the northern kingdom completely but spares divorce for the southern kingdom because of David. We see here the parallels as experienced in the Garden: their banning from His presence in the Garden and their divorce or being put away from being able to enter the Garden.
When their sin reached a certain level He then “exiles” them from the land of Israel altogether. While Adam and Eve were only exiled, as it were, from His intimate presence as priests, they still lived in the land of Eden. But do we see an example in scripture of someone being “exiled” from the land of Eden completely because of their sin? Yes, we see this in Cain. Cain, because of his sin of murder, was completely exiled from the land of Eden. Hence, the Israelites were eventually exiled from the land of Israel. Cain did not live in a place called Nod. The word nod does not denote a proper name. The Hebrew word nod means he became a “wanderer, exiled”. He was made to wander upon the earth outside of Eden. This is exactly what YHVH promised He would do to the Israelites: that He would scatter them upon the whole face of the earth where they would be wanderers, and they have been. Although the southern kingdom came back from Babylonian captivity, and the Roman diaspora, the northern kingdom of Ephraim/Joseph has never returned from being exiled except in very small numbers. Remember, they were the kingdom that was divorced.
God now has to implement another way for His creation to return to the way of the tree of life but first man has to conquer this sin nature. This is done through the second Adam, Yeshua the Messiah. Is it just a coincidence that His disciples called themselves “followers of THE WAY”? No! A thousand times NO! What WAY were they following? THE WAY shown them by Yeshua – the way of the tree of life. Yeshua promised that He would give eternal life to those who believed in Him and kept His commandments. He also stated that He kept His Father's commandments. They were one and the same. Yeshua showed us the way back to the Father and the tree of eternal life. We have come full circle. We now have access back into Gan Eden (garden of Eden). At His return He will give eternal life to those whom he chooses to give it to and those will be the ones who kept His Torah. Through Yeshua we can once again become a kingdom of priests.
Revelation 1:5-6 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us a kingdom of priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
What about those cherubim? Do we see them protecting the way of life in the Brit Hadashah (New Testament) except in the book of Revelation?
John 20:11-12, But Mary stood without at the sepulcher weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulcher, And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
Did you catch that? Two messengers, one at the head and one at the foot of the place where Yeshua had lain. Why would the scripture bare this out? Just as there were two cherubim in Genesis and two on the lid of the ark, here we find two bearing witness to THE WAY OF LIFE where Yeshua arose from the dead. They are screaming out that He is the way. The way has been restored.
Yeshua stated that He had come so that we may have LIFE! #memra
In summary, if you read Revelation chapters 21 and 22 you will find striking similarities between the New Heaven and Earth and the Garden of Eden, including a TREE OF LIFE!
In addition it appears that divisions will be present again: the whole earth with nations, the nation of Israel, Jerusalem (the garden), and the midst (plaza) of the city of Jerusalem where there is a throne and the tree of life. This is where His presence will be!
We were created to subdue the earth, to multiply and replenish, and to be a set-apart priesthood, holy people, to our Creator. Our reward was eternal life. When we failed The Way had to be reestablished. Yeshua reestablished The Way.
Are you a follower of “The Way”?