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Winged guardians of the way to life

December 4, 2023
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Daily Scripture

Genesis 3:21-24

21 The Lord God made the man and his wife leather clothes and dressed them. 22 The Lord God said, “The human being [Or man (Hebrew adam)] has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.” Now, so he doesn’t stretch out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat and live forever, 23 the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to farm the fertile land from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the human. To the east of the garden of Eden, he stationed winged creatures wielding flaming swords to guard the way to the tree of life.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

This is the first place in the Bible that we find the Hebrew word cherubim. (Hebrew historians likely put Genesis into the written form we have during or after Israel’s exile some 550 years before Christ. *) Cherubim “are described in the Old Testament as the carriers of God and the guardians of sacred things…. in Psalm 18:10 the Lord rides on a cherub in the thunderstorm. In 1 Kings 6:23–28 two large cherubim hold their wings over the ark in the temple to protect it and provide a seat for the Lord.” **

  • What spiritual impact does the Genesis image of cherubim keeping humans away from the “tree of life” have? “The closing part of the parable represents the awareness that we live in a world that is not paradise. It is not directly our individual fault, but we cannot find our way there unless God lets us do so.” *** It says we are mortal, and only God’s mercy can give us eternal life. Our culture hates to think about it, but how does realizing our mortality make us aware of our need for God?
  • Before describing the cherubim with flaming swords, Genesis 3 gave a symbolic hint that God could restore humanity’s access to the source of life. Genesis 3:15 said God told the tempting snake that the woman’s offspring “will strike your head, but you will strike at their heels.” The snake’s way (distrusting God) would cause much pain, but God would defeat the serpent. How thankful are you that God immediately began a process that reopened the way to life?
Prayer

Lord Jesus, Genesis didn’t know exactly how you would “crush” the serpent’s head. But I know that by giving your own life you opened the way for me to access the tree of life. Thank you—help me to share the wonderful news. Amen.

GPS Insights

Emily Stirewalt

Emily Stirewalt

Emily Stirewalt is an ordained Elder in the Missouri Annual Conference and has served since 2007. She is thrilled to be specializing in pastoral care of elderly adults as Resurrection's Silverlink Pastor. She is married to Randall, a special education teacher. They have two daughters, Elliott and Marlowe. When Emily is not in a care home sharing communion or with her family on another Kansas City adventure, you can find her curled up on the couch at home binge watching "Friends" or "Golden Girls."

“Our culture hates to think about it, but how does realizing our mortality make us aware of our need for God?”

As the Pastor for our Silverlink ministry that visits frail and elderly people who can no longer physically attend church, that question above, tucked into our GPS today, is one I hear an answer to almost every time I visit someone or attend one of our 25 worship services in care homes across the metro. The elders among us are quite aware of their mortality. They have daily reminders that life is fleeting and fragile. This past Friday I was with one of our worship teams and the leader asked the fifteen or so people present what was on their Christmas list. They included me in the question, and I shared that I am determined this year to give my husband as thoughtful and meaningful a gift as he does me. The rest of the answers? 

–“To see my family” 
–“Peace of Mind”
–“My memories”
–“Peace on Earth” 

Consider this my reminder of what really matters in life. Take it from me, the oldest among us have much wisdom to share when it comes to realizing how much we need God and each other! 

© 2022 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

* To read in more depth about the writing of Genesis, see Theodore Hiebert, “Introduction to Genesis” in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 1-3 OT.
** William D. Reyburn and Euan McG. Fry, A Handbook on Genesis. New York: United Bible Societies, 1997, p. 100.
*** John Goldingay, Genesis for Everyone, Part 1: Chapters 1–16. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010, p. 61.