Skip to main content

Geography of the cross, finding the way back into Eden

On a day that remembers the darkest day (from which floods of hope breakforth!) I thought found my self riffing on some Biblical Geography. This is the Cross meets "We've been feeding on Genesis with our local church" with a twist of Reeves...

Man in the garden, walking with God. Everything is as it should be. Man ruling the world under God's rule. The glory of that really requires more than three sentences.

Then man overthrows God and incurs just curse for his rebellion. The curse manifests in many ways, one of which is being kicked out of the garden and sent East. Two angels with swords block the east side of the garden. Don't think light-sabres, think the most tragic picture as man is shut out from the presence of God. Ejected from Mt. Eden into the wilderness he was meant to rule under God.

A garden in the west. Man to the east of it. Man continues to multiply and fill the earth until the flood when things are reset due to sin, but sin remains. Less than 100 years after the flood comes Babel and man once more attempts to overthrow God. Man is scattered. These are the days of Shem. A man blessed by God.

Shem is told that his family will be served by cursed Canaan. But, Canaan occupies land in the west (Eden?) and Shem's guys are out east in Ur. Then God calls Abram of the house of Shem to a land. We're meant to see the connection between Shem and Abram, hence the genealogy in Genesis 11 that connects the two. The land God leads Abram too transpires to be Canaan.

Two problems. First, the land is occupied by the Canaanites who will have to be overcome. Secord, the land is promised to Abram's offspring. Abram has no children, he's old and his wife is barren. Shem is waiting on God's promise but it's hard to see how it'll come through. There are hints but how's it possible?

Nonetheless Abram's offspring is made the conduit of divine blessing to the nations. If you curse Abram's offspring God curses you. If you bless Abram's blessing God blesses you. What you do with Abram's offspring is really really important. And the direction of travel is blessing - God designs to use Abram's offspring to bless the whole world. Against all odds, via the offspring of a moon-worshipper (Abram - see Joshua 24v2) God will bring blessing to the world. You'd expect curse but God is the blesser - and he speaks to Abram... and he appears to Abram (as The Lord of Glory - Acts 7v2). It's stunning. It's absolutely stunning that this man isn't struck down dead but God - such is God's glory that he blesses and promises more blessing!

The challenge then is to have offspring and to stay in the land. The people multiply but keep finding themselves out of the land. It's like trying to solve a rubix cube - you fix one thing and everything else moves out of place. Somehow they've got to get back in the land. Before long they're out in Egypt for several generations but eventually they're bought into the land and this time with some models. Models of God's big picture. Models including a tent with a curtain on which are two angels - Eden, right? - that represents the place you want to get to but can't. The place that is where God is.

Only centuries later when Jesus who is the one 'Abraham's Offspring' dies on a Roman cross. As he dies, in Mark's account, Mark moves the camera from the hill outside the city where Jesus dies to the curtain at the temple. This initially looks like an unnecessary interuption to the narrative. But, look closer: we see the curtain torn - the way that had been blocked by the angels is opened wide. Mark is telling us that the death of Jesus is about getting God's people into his place... back into the land promised to Jesus. This is the good news of the gospel - that in Jesus, Abraham's offspring, we can get back past the angels and into the presence of God. The journey completed! All the pieces in place. And we did none of the work, it was all him.

Genealogy matters. Who are they? Abram, of Shem.
Geography matters. Where are they? Canaan, in the west.


  1. Juicy! Have you heard Jason Clarke mention the significace of travelling east and west in relation to the peoples' attitude towards God? I think he was put onto it by Leithart...


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

"Big eyes full of wonder"

Books. Fiction. Libraries. Second only to churches as are the best gateways in your community to ultimate reality and new possibilities.

Our local library has just re-opened after refurbishment, and I love that our boys have spent several mornings there during the summer holidays, discovering some wonderful new stories.

I realised a few months back that I wasn't reading enough fiction. My work necessitates reading a lot of non-fiction, a mix of historical and contemporary thinking, biblical studies and theology. But fiction is the cinderella. Easily overlooked, and yet able to awaken my imagination and show me the way things are meant to be.

So I've picked up a few more lately - bought and borrowed. Not every book attempted flies, and that's ok. These have been winners though.

Ink. This is Alice Broadway's debut novel. It's young adult fiction and tells the story of Leora who lives in a world where the events of your life are tattooed on your skin. Nothing gets hid…

Uniquely Matthew

Reading gospel accounts in parallel is sometimes used to blur the differences in perspective between the evangelists, seeking to harmonise the texts and find a definitive historical account of what happened. No such thing exists because every account is biased and limited. You simply can't record everything. You have to hold a vantage point. And that's not a problem.

Matthew, Mark and Luke take a very different vantage point to John who was of course an eyewitness himself of the events. Comparing the text of Matthew, Mark and Luke across the death and resurrection of Jesus yields two steps.

Firstly, the common ground. All three accounts tell of...
Simon of Cyrene carrying the cross…. · Jesus labelled as King of the Jews…. · Criminals crucified with Jesus… · Darkness in the daytime… · Jesus' loud final cry… The women who witnessed Jesus death, and Jesus' burial… · The tomb lent to Jesus by Joseph of Arimithea… · The women who went to the tomb on the morning of the…

Songs we're singing in Church

Christians are a singing people, it's part of what we do when we gather.

Our church meets morning an evening on a Sunday - normally using 5 songs in each service. So, over the year that's about 520 song-slots available. The report from the database system we use ( tells us that in the past year we've sung about 150 different songs.

Our current most used song has been sung 11 times in the last year, just under once a month. Our top 10 are used about every 6 weeks. By #30 we're talking about songs used every two months. The tail is long and includes loads of classic hymns from across the centuries, plus other songs from the past 40 years, that we have used around once a term or less.

1. Rejoice - Dustin Kensrue

2. Come Praise & Glorify - Bob Kauflin

3. Man of Sorrows - Hillsong

4. Cornerstone - Hillsong

Rejoice was a song I didn't previously know, along with a couple of others that have quickly become firm favourites for me: Chri…