What is the Flaming Sword that Guards The Way to the Tree of Life?

God makes an interesting statement when Adam and Eve eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

He says this in Genesis 3:22 – And the Lord God said, ‘The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.’  

God sends Adam and Eve out of the Garden and places Cherubim with a Flaming Sword that flash back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.   I will show you the special way that the Cherubim and the Flaming Sword leads us back to Jesus.

Let us examine what trees represent in the Bible.

Many times the Word of God declares that people are trees. Here are a few examples below.

(Daniel to King Nebuchadnezzar) Daniel 4:20 – 22 The tree you saw, which grew large and strong, with its top touching the sky, visible to the whole earth, with beautiful leaves and abundant fruit, providing food for all, giving shelter to the beasts of the field, and having nesting places in its branches for the birds of the air, you, O king, are that tree!

Isaiah 61:3 …that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.  

Matthew 7:15-17 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits… A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.  

Here are a few verses that point to Jesus as being the ‘Tree of Life’

John 4:14 but whoever drinks the water I (Jesus) give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

John 3:15 That whosoever believeth in Him (Jesus) should not perish, but have eternal life.

John 6:51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

John 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

John 11:25 Jesus said unto her, ‘I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live…’

I can show you why our journey here on earth is the means by which God leads us back to Christ our Saviour ‘The Tree of Life’!

I will start with the Flaming Sword and its meaning. Flaming in the Hebrew means ‘blaze, scorch, and burn’. The Sword is the word kharav which means ‘to make desolate, lay waste, dried up, slay, attack’  which is very much what we go through here on earth in all sorts of ways. Just as the Israelite’s wandered through the scorching heat of the desert, the dry parched places, and faced the sword, so we also go through the dry, desert-like places that scorch and burn us, which ultimately cause us to search out Jesus, the ‘Rock’ of living water, in our desert; just as the Israelite’s drank from the rock in the desert they traveled in. Jesus our Rock is the only one who can quench our thirst in our desolation, desperation and need.

In the account in Genesis, man is prevented from stretching out HIS hand to take hold of the Tree of Life.

Those of us that recognize the evil that is within, finally see the fiery sword, the dry places, and the utter desolation that we find ourselves in, and it is that which has separated us from Christ, but it is that which leads us to seek out the living water, out of our dry places, out of our humility and shame, so that Jesus takes hold of us to bring us back into Paradise, the place where we belong!  

So, Instead of Us reaching out Our hand in the pride of knowledge, we come in total surrender and humility at our utter need for a Saviour who alone can give us in all we need. He now can take us to the place where we can live forever with Him because at last we give him the adoration that He deserves, for all that He has done for us. Pride produces fire and destruction, but humility brings peace and life. So Jesus takes hold of us, instead of us taking hold of Him with the wrong motives.

Now this is where it gets really interesting when thinking of Jesus taking hold of us.  Cherubim means ‘to be grasped’, ‘held firm or tight’. (Bible Teacher Kevin Conner from Portland, Oregon, who has written books on “The Tabernacle of Moses, The Tabernacle of David, The Temple of Solomon” brings this meaning out from the Hebrew text), so it is the cherubim who lead us back so that we can be held firm in Christ; we come back and He grasps hold of us and keeps us in Him and He gives us life! For He alone is the Tree of Life. It is interesting that the Cherubim are the winged creatures that guard the way into the Garden of Eden but they also overshadow the Ark of God in heaven where Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father.  

Isaiah 37:16 Lord Almighty, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.  

Psalm 99:1 The Lord reigns, let the nations tremble; he sits enthroned between the cherubim, let the earth shake.  

Jesus came to earth outside the city (heavenly Jerusalem). He was crucified outside of the earthly Jerusalem which I think reflects a heavenly picture; that He was crucified outside of heaven. He suffered here on earth in order to gain entry back into the garden (Paradise), both for Him and us.

We are all enticed by sin and we all suffer here on earth going through the refining fires. We are trapped by the very thing that brings us back to Christ. We are separated by the fiery sword, the scorching flame, the dry places here on earth but through tribulation we are led back through the cherubim who guard the way to our Saviour, the Tree of Life! It is the experience of tribulation that washes our robes clean.

Revelation 7:9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. Revelation 7:13-14 Then one of the elders asked me, ‘These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?’ I said to him, ‘My lord, you know.’ And he said to me, ‘These are the ones who have come out of the great tribulation [KJV just says Great Tribulation], and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’  

The word tribulation comes from the process of refining grain. In ancient times the men would beat and whip the sheaves so that the grain could be separated from the chaff. Next a cart would be run over the grain to crush it so that the seed could be set free from the husk. The cart was known as a tribulum, hence the word tribulation. We go through great trials sometimes but that is what makes us strong; the chaff is taken from us to reveal the true inner quality of the grain.

Acts 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation to enter into the kingdom of God.    

Revelation 2:7b To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God.  

Fruit trees do best and produce the sweetest fruit when they go through harshness of the winters.  

Overcoming through tribulation, leads us back to the ‘Tree of Life’ and ‘Paradise’.

The Garden of Eden means a delightful place/enclosure, plants, which sounds very similar to Paradise (park, preserve, enclosed garden, forest). We will find ourselves back in the place where Adam began.  

Back to the dry places again…
So we start in Genesis where Adam and Eve are sent out of the Garden, then go with the Israelite’s through the desert and continue on until we get to Revelation 7:14-17 where it says this:   These are they who have come out of Great Tribulation… they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them.
Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,
nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd;
he will lead them to springs of living water.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.  

Isaiah 49:10
“They will not hunger or thirst, nor will the scorching heat or sun strike them down; For He who has compassion on them will lead them and will guide them to springs of water.  

The Old Testament reiterates the same thing as the new.

It is interesting to note that it was a garden that Adam and Eve were sent out of and in which they died both physically and spiritually – and it was in a garden (the Garden of Gethsemane) that Jesus offered up His life physically to die for us.

Part of an Excerpt from Hold Your Horses – © copyright D A Cleland