Each time I set out from a trail head to hike, I cannot help but think of a rabbinic expression, “the end is caught up in the beginning.” It is to that spot, where my Jeep is parked, that I will return several hours, and many miles later – to end where I began.
First to the beginning.
In Genesis 2:7 we read,
וַיִּיצֶר יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים אֶת-הָאָדָם, עָפָר מִן-הָאֲדָמָה
“And the Lord God formed the man from the red dirt of the ground.”
Genesis 2:7, 21-22 are a closer look at the creation narrative of man found in Genesis 1:26-27. The Lord formed Adam with His hands from the red dirt of the ground, and, as the Torah says,
וַיִּפַּח בְּאַפָּיו, נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים
“And he breathed into his nose, the breath of life.”
The Lord put his life – divine breath – into the formed Adam; and from there the Adam, created in the “image and likeness” of God would rest in that divine breath.
In Genesis 2:15 we read,
וַיִּקַּח יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים, אֶת-הָאָדָם; וַיַּנִּחֵהוּ בְגַן-עֵדֶן, לְעָבְדָהּ וּלְשָׁמְרָהּ
“And the Lord God took the man, and set him to rest in the Garden of Eden, to work and protect it.”
1. Man was set in a condition of rest in the Garden – breathing the breath of the Father – Adam rested in the midst of creation, just as the Father rested in Genesis 2:2 – imitation.
2. Man was to work the Garden, as man cannot rest without the counterpart of purpose, yet the work – divine service – was not yet toil, as the Garden willingly responded to the care of the gardener.
3. Man was to guard the Garden. From what? The serpent (Gen. 3:1). Original sin is known as the sin of Adam; not because he did not stop Eve from falling for the scheme of the serpent, but he failed to guard the Garden and keep the serpent out. Thus, having fallen from that lofty position, Adam himself would be kept out by the cherubim who would now guard it (Gen. 3:24).
This is the beginning of Adam, man, humanity, and to this beginning man returns.
Now, to the ending.
Messiah Yeshua/Jesus called out to humanity, “Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).
Those responding to the call of Messiah are, in the same pattern of Adam, formed, more precisely, reformed by the outstretched hands of Messiah, the very one who walked with Adam in the “spirit of the day.” Messiah then breathes on those who are His own (Jn. 20:22), giving them new vigor and power in this renewed life.
Just as the Lord set Adam at rest in the Garden, in Messiah our souls are at rest, even in the midst of labor and service, no longer toiling spiritually. In Him, we find these three points:
1. As Messiah has rested, or seated, from the work of salvation, we are thus set in His rest, imitating Him in that condition in the inward man.
2. As the author of Hebrews tells us, those ceasing from their own works of righteousness have entered His rest (Heb. 4:9-11), and in that rest we do the works prepared for us beforehand by the Father (Eph. 2:8-10) – the creation then becomes a partner with us in the work of the Lord, and groans with us in anticipation for the final redemption (Ro. 8:23).
3. Now, we are to guard, as Paul writes, “As the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Messiah Yeshua” (Phil. 4:7). Guard against what? Take every thought – not belonging to the inward garden – captive (II Cor. 10:5) to the obedience of Messiah, and guard against, as Paul writes, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you are able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Eph. 6:11).
For those resting in Messiah, the guarding cherubim have stilled their swords, as we are “seated in Him in heavenly places” (Eph. 2:6). For it is by “grace through faith” in Messiah that we now share in, serve, and protect this new creation – for we are new creations in Him.
The end is caught up in the beginning, so as new creations we 1) rest, 2) serve, and 3) protect, what the Lord has set us to, to His glory (I Cor. 10:31).
We have our work yet before us (Eph. 2:8-10), may He be glorified in it.
Be well. Shalom.