From the East

James Hilsden, the lead singer of the Israeli band Miqedem, explained the meaning of their name at a recent concert at Kol Dodi Messianic Congregation, in Nashville TN. He explained that “Miqedem” means “from the East” – but it also means from ancient times. The Hebrew word for the East refers to the rising sun.

He then reminded us of the story of the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve were sent out from there, they were sent to the East of it. In Genesis 3:24, we learn “After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life”

The cherubim were large angelic-looking creatures with huge wings.

Now notice this –

behind the veil

This is a replica of the veil that separates the Holy of Holies – the innermost section of the Tabernacle (In Hebrew it is מִשְׁכַּן “mishkan”, meaning “dwelling place”).  God’s instructions for how to build the Tabernacle are in Exodus 25.  Instructions about the curtains begin at Exodus 26:1.

“Make the tabernacle with ten curtains of finely twisted linen and blue, purple and scarlet yarn, with cherubim woven into them by a skilled worker.”

This is for the inner part of the tabernacle, which is then covered with a tent made of the more durable fabric of goat hair.  The curtain for the Holy of Holies is described in Exodus 26:31-33

31 “Make a curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen, with cherubim woven into it by a skilled worker. 32 Hang it with gold hooks on four posts of acacia wood overlaid with gold and standing on four silver bases. 33 Hang the curtain from the clasps and place the ark of the covenant law behind the curtain. The curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place.”

Notice that the curtains are to be embroidered with cherubim!

Note that the entrance to the Tabernacle is from the East.

tabernacle-17

The Holy Temple – the building in Jerusalem designed to be a permanent version of the traveling Tabernacle – was also oriented with its opening to the East.

her_tem_plan

When you enter it, you are essentially returning to the Garden of Eden.  The cherubim, who were guarding the entrance to the Garden, part to allow you to enter.  You are once again allowed to be face-to-face with God.

This is, of course, if you are of the Priestly line.

This was true until Jesus died on the cross.  Before then, only people who were blood-kin to Aaron (Moses’ brother) were allowed into that inner sanctum, when they were serving as the High Priest.  But when Jesus died, the curtain was supernaturally torn in half, from top to bottom.

Matthew 27:51-53

51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

His death opened up direct access to God to all who follow him.  His death brought life to all the faithful.

Much thanks to James of Miqedem for providing the important pieces of this teaching. I had not noticed the connections before between Eden and the Tabernacle facing East.

(All Bible translations are NIV, all images are copyright their respective owners.)

The Garden

I am struck by the parallel of the story of Adam and Eve, and the story of Jesus.
The very first example of disobedience happened in a garden – the Garden of Eden.

garden-of-eden

Adam and Eve went against the will of God and decided to do things their way.  Because of their choice, they were banished from the place of peace and harmony, where their every need was provided for.  Because of their choice, they were subject to pain and death.

The ultimate expression of obedience to God also took place in a garden – the Garden of Gethsemane.

jesus-praying-in-gethsemane-39591-print

Jesus knew what God wanted him to do.  He’d read the words of the prophets and knew that this is what had to happen.  He didn’t want it.  He said “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42, NIV).  He was hoping that there would be a way out, like the ram that appeared when Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac due to God’s command. He was hoping that there would be another way, that he would not have to suffer and die.

And yet, he accepted what had to happen. Knowing what was going to occur, yet trusting in his Father, he submitted.  He was fully obedient, knowing that it would cost him his life.  Because of God’s love, he gained his life back.

Because of his example of total obedience to God, we now have a pattern for how to live our lives – trusting, without fear, knowing that even death has no hold over us if we are following God’s commands.  The doors to heaven are open to us if we follow his example.

 

It is all good.

Our separation from God was simultaneous with our eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  At that moment, we divided our world into pieces, instead of being whole.  We no longer saw as God does, in entirety, in completion.  We began at that moment to judge – to raise things up, and to put things down.  We chose to forget that God made all things and said that they were good.

As stated by Placido, an Andean shaman in the film “Humano” (currently free on Amazon Prime) – “The only thing you need to understand is that everything is there to be understood, and not to be rejected or judged. As soon as you start judging, you enter into dualism.”

The Hebrew word “Shalom” means peace.  It is related to the word “shelemut”, which means “wholeness”.  Meanwhile, the Hebrew word for sickness (choleah) is related to the word for emptiness or hollowness.  It is also the word for secular or profane.  Thus, sickness is a body without a soul – devoid of spirit.  To be whole, we must have body and soul together, complete.

Proverbs 17:22 “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.”

Wisdom 11:24-25 is talking about how God created everything, so it has to be good.  The “you” in these verses refer to God.

24 For you love all things that exist,
and detest none of the things that you have made,
for you would not have made anything if you had hated it.
25 How would anything have endured if you had not willed it?
Or how would anything not called forth by you have been preserved?

Poem – the two trees.

Sin and shame came into the world
at the same time.
Adam and Eve ate fruit
from the tree
of the knowledge
of good and evil.

After that,
they were full of shame
about being naked,
about who they were,
about their very being,
and so they hid themselves
when God came around.

Before that,
they were
as they were created.
God saw them exactly
the way
God created them.
All was well.
They could be themselves
around God
without any
fear or embarrassment.

Thousands of years later,
Jesus
was placed on the cross,
a wooden pole
stuck in the ground
with a horizontal bar across it.
It was symbolically a tree,
and in fact,
it was symbolically
That tree,
that same tree
in the Garden.

Jesus tells us that
He is the fruit of that tree,
and that we are to eat it.
We are to consume
his flesh
and drink
his blood.

He is the antidote
for that first tree,
that first sin.
He is the cure
for what ails us.

When we eat the fruit
that is Jesus,
we are restored.
We have re-entered
the Garden.
He makes us able
to stand
before God,
as we are,
without sin or shame,
without fear or embarrassment.

The first sin.

We must not hate the snake, in the same way we must not hate Judas. Both were created by God and both performed exactly the way God wanted them to. They represent choice, a fork in the road, a divergence point. The snake did not force Adam and Eve to eat. Judas did not act alone. He sold Jesus to the Pharisees, who were looking for a way to silence Jesus, to catch him in violation of Mosaic Law. Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Pol Pot – none acted alone. They were the head of a vicious body, but a body that they did not create. They merely saw and shaped the sentiment of the times.

Eleanor Roosevelt said “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”. Likewise, no one can make you do an evil act without your consent. Succumbing to temptation, eating that extra piece of pie, cheating on taxes or your spouse, gossip, lying – nobody made you do it. You did it.

Perhaps the first true sin wasn’t eating the fruit. Perhaps the first true sin is blaming someone else for your actions. Adam blamed Eve. Eve blamed the snake. Eve didn’t make Adam eat it – he chose to. The snake didn’t make Eve eat it – she chose to.

Imagine how things would have been if they had just said “Yes, I did it.” I suspect they wouldn’t have been kicked out of the Garden. We can return when we take responsibility for our own actions.