The Victim of the Flaming Sword
Written By: Bishop Garfield Thomas (G.T.) Haywood
Published by: The Christian Outlook - January, 1923
The fall of man was a tragedy that has been keenly felt by all humanity from Eden to Calvary, and from Calvary till now. We have read of the fatal calamity and have been made to mourn and weep over our lamentable downfall. But in spite of all this the fact still remains the same, that the sin of our forefather Adam thrust us out from the paradise of God.
Although coats of skin were brought forth to cover the nakedness of the transgressors, and the blood of an innocent creature had been shed, temporarily staying the hand of Justice, yet the words “the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” stood steadfast, still unchanged.
The enmity between the serpent’s seed and the seed of the woman, the brusing of his heel, the multiplying of her sorrows and conception; the cursing of the ground, the sorrow of eating the products of the earth all the days of his life, the thorns, the thistles, and the eating of bread by the sweat of his face until he should return to the ground, were severe inflictions of punishment upon the first violators of God’s unalterable law. There is no doubt but that they felt the keenest remorse and shame but to be sent forth from out the garden lest he should partake of the tree of life and live forever, was doubtless received with surprise.
Apparently the anger and indignation of God was increased, for it is further stated, “So he DROVE out the man; and He placed at the east of the Garden of Eden Cherubim’s, and a FLAMING SWORD which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” man by his wisdom was never to lay hold on the tree of life. The sentence of death was passed upon all, and the rights to the tree of life had been forfeited. Whoever attempted to regain it must come against the Flaming Sword.
From the time of the expulsion from Eden till the Exodus from the land of Egypt the way of the tree of life had been kept from Adam’s posterity. No man had ever been able to pass the flaming sword. Death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them who had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression. Hope had almost vanished. The old patriarch declared that there was hope for a tree, but a man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man given up the ghost, and where is he? And again, If a man dies, shall he live again? No man could by any means redeem his brother, not give to God a ransom for him; that he should still live forever, and not see corruption. (Job 14:8, 10, 14; Psalms 49:7-9). No man could approach the tree of life.
There was a temporary restraint through the offering of the sacrifices of bullocks, goats, lambs, doves and pigeons. It appears that in order to redeem his forfeited position mankind sought the aid of these innocent creatures, and as they approached the tree of life these sacrifices fell victim to the flaming sword. One after another fell bleeding upon the altar, breathing its final breath, and died. None of them were received from the dead to prove that they had succeeded in passing the sword and regained the way of the tree of life.
So great was the slaughter of the bulls, goats, and lambs that God himself grew weary of its continuance, and said, “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto Me? I am full of burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beast; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of the goats.” (Isaiah 1:11). “For my Sword shall be bathed (Revised version ‘hath drunk its fill’) in heaven: Behold it shall come down upon Idumea (Edom), and upon the people of my curse. The Sword of the Lord is filled with blood, it is made fat with fatness, and with the fat of the kidneys of rams; for the Lord hath a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Edom.” Isaiah 34:5,6.
From the foregoing scriptures we see that the Sword was filled with the blood of the sacrifices. To God it was “enough.” he had a better sacrifice “in Bozrah,” and it was to be a “great slaughter in the land of Edom” (Idumea). Edom was the name given to the descendents of Esau. Esau and Jacob were two great types. In Esau we see the type of God’s people after the flesh (Israel), while in Jacob we see the type of the Church who is God’s people after the Spirit. And as Jacob supplanted Esau, even so has the Church supplanted the Israelites. It is for this reason that God said, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” Romans 9:13; Genesis 25:21-26.
When He said that he had a sacrifice in Bozrah, and that His sword would come down upon the land of Edom, it was then that He pointed out where His flaming Sword would mete out justice. The Prophet foreseeing, cried out later, “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? This that is glorious in his apparel, traveling in the greatness of his strength”? the Spirit of Christ within him (1 Peter 1:10, 11). Answered, “I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.” Isaiah 63:1.
David in his day, foreseeing the sufferings of Christ as the sacrifice, records in the 22nd Psalm, verse 20, the very words of Jesus upon His cross. He says, “Deliver My soul from the Sword; my darling (only one) from the power of the dog” (the Gentiles). Through this we can see that the Sword is connected with Calvary. For a long time the Sword seemed to have been in silence, but because there was one coming to redeem the forfeited possession, we hear Justice crying through the Prophet Zechariah, “Awake, O Sword, against my shepherd, against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts; smite the shepherd and the sheep shall be scattered.” Zechariah 13:7.
After many weary years of waiting One came who was to be commander and a leader of the people (Isaiah 55:4). He came to show the way to the tree of life. His words, “I am come that they might have Life, and that they might have it more abundantly,” cast a ray of hope across the path of the people who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death. He came to restore the way to the tree of life.
To accomplish this He must needs pass the Flaming Sword in the hand of the cherubim that was placed at the east of the Garden of Eden. When His hour arrived He was not discouraged. He faced it like a man of war. The conflict was terrific. The Sword pierced His brow and blood came streaming down His face. His body was lacerated. His hands were torn and bleeding, the sword wounds entered His feet and His side, but onward yet He pressed.
In the midst of His suffering He gave the thief an assurance that Hw would regain the entrance into paradise. He, too, was paying the penalty, “Thou shalt surely die.” the tree of life was in the midst of paradise. And to him He says, “Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with Me in paradise.”
In the heat of the struggle He cried, “I thirst,” and as darkness settled upon Him the lamentable cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me,” brought the terrible conflict to an end. And when He cried with a loud voice, “It is finished,” He gave up the ghost and entered into paradise. Thus he braved the flaming sword and gained for us a right to the tree of life in the midst of the paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7, 22:14). Whether we live or die, that life is for us and He shall raise us up in the last day. (John 6:54; Revelation 2:10.)