“And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day…”. Whenever I read through the book of Genesis, I pause at Genesis 3:8a. It’s hard to move to the next verse - I want to sit in this one for a while. There are journal pages filled with my reflections on the same question, “What must it have been like for Adam and Eve to know the perfect joy and protection of God’s physical presence in the garden?”
Before Adam and Eve sinned, before they doubted the goodness and faithfulness of their Creator, they experienced physical nearness to Him. They enjoyed the warmth of God’s hospitality, in whatever form He chose to appear to His creation. Before sin entered, how thrilling it must have been when Adam and Eve heard God approaching. How content to know their Father’s smile of approval. How comforting to hear His voice, calling their names. How peaceful their sleep, covered by His powerful presence.
There was such a great loss at the Fall. From our human perspective, fellowship with God has been obscured for “now we see dimly” and only “know in part” (1 Cor 13:12). And yet in God’s great tenderness, before He even announced judgment on Adam and Eve, He declared the gospel in Genesis 3:15. “...He [Jesus] shall bruise your [Satan] head, and you [Satan] shall bruise His [Jesus] heel.” The hope of restoration, in order to once again be in God’s presence, was coming.
The hope of restoration, in order to once again be in God’s presence, was coming.
There are many times in the heaviness of this world that I ache to experience God’s closeness as they did in the garden. Desperate to be held by my Father. I have felt that lately. Many I love are going through deep waters: major financial troubles, relentless chronic pain, broken families, persistent sin, terminal illness, the loneliness of death. As I pray over the list of those struggling, I find myself simply saying to God, “This world can be so hard”.
God is not surprised. He knows our weakness, He sees our frailty (Psalm 103:14) and He accommodates us with an oath (Heb 6:13). Every one of His promises to us will be fulfilled. Out of His great mercy and compassion, He desires to encourage His children, “to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of His purpose…” (Heb 6:17).
The book of Hebrews was written to a small group of struggling Jews. Some saved. Others, only yet filled with head knowledge. All having grown up in a synagogue community where Jewish tradition was their life. To follow Christ meant to forsake this heritage. It meant to be cast out of families, banished from places of worship, and considered unclean. It meant loss. This was a difficult road, where discouragement and doubt crept in.
Like us, these believers needed something beyond any doubt to hold. Something immovable that would, ironically, energize them and pull them through the storms of adversity. They needed a fastened anchor. In God’s kindness, He emphasizes the unfailing hope we have in Christ Jesus our Lord. This should flood every believer with assurance.
In God’s kindness, He emphasizes the unfailing hope we have in Christ Jesus our Lord.
“We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” ~ Hebrews 6:19-20
The Jews would have known exactly what the “inner place behind the curtain” implied. In the temple, this was the place where God’s glory was manifest. Where His presence could be found. The high priest alone was allowed in this holy of holies, once a year, in order to offer sacrifices on behalf of Israel. The rest of the people could only experience a distant intimacy to God, outside the inner curtain. God’s holiness and man’s sinfulness made the holy of holies a dangerous place.
The temple was an illustration for God’s people. It prepared them for Christ’s coming, when through one final sacrifice, He accomplished what no sinful priest could. On the cross, Jesus became the perfect sacrificial Lamb and our forever High Priest. Bearing believers’ sins and suffering God’s wrath, He shed His blood as our one-time, complete atonement. The old system was now done away.
On the cross, Jesus became the perfect sacrificial Lamb and our forever High Priest.
Having finished His work on earth, Jesus ascended to heaven, through the actual veil and directly into the throne room of God. Sitting down at God’s right hand, Jesus anchors us within the true holy of holies. He enters God’s presence on our behalf and there He “lives to make intercession” for God’s children (Heb 7:25), securing our eternal salvation. We are bound to God forever - sure and steadfast. Not dependent on our own frail hands. This affects us even now as, “through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom 5:2).
As our forerunner, Christ went first. He is the Shepherd, now leading His flock into God’s unveiled presence in heaven, where we will dwell and fellowship safely among the Trinity! This is beyond comprehension! Not one of His sheep will go missing on the journey (Mt 18), not one will perish (John 10:28). Christ satisfies the Christian’s deepest longing, to see our King of Kings.
Hear Christ’s own words of comfort to His disciples, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:1-3).
Christian, the best is yet to come.
Christian, the best is yet to come. Like children anticipating Christmas morning, we anticipate with joy the day that we will fall at Christ’s feet in worship and gratefulness for He has brought us home. God made a way for us to be“face to face”, to “fully know as [we’ve] been fully known” (1 Cor 13:12). This is our hope. This is our breath-taking reality. One day all the world’s pain and grief will end but even more than that, we will have clear sight of the glory of God. Let’s strengthen and encourage one another with this great hope.