EAST FROM WEST

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Throughout the Bible there is a common theme about how going God’s way is equivalent to going against the way of the world. Most of the time the world’s way and God’s way is opposite of one another. Most of the time it’s like swimming upstream. In Genesis I came across several stories that illustrate the way of the world as “east” or “eastward.” Obviously then, by default, the way of God must be west.

Of course in the first story we find Adam and Eve. We all know how they ate of the forbidden fruit; therefore God evicted them from his Garden. My question is did you ever notice they were kicked out eastward? “So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.” Seeing how they had turned from God’s way they found themselves in the world’s way or east.

Not long after being removed from the Garden; Adam and Eve had children. Cain and Abel were their names, and subsequently Cain murdered Abel. When God questioned Cain about his brother’s whereabouts Cain became angry. Cain found himself under a curse, we read “Then Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.” There is enough speculation about whether Nod was an actual city, or if it meant Cain was a wanderer, so I won’t get into that here. What I would like for you to notice though is he, you guessed it, went east.

Jumping ahead a little bit, after the story of Noah and the Flood, when the earth started to repopulate; we come to the story of the Tower of Babel. We find that the whole earth used the same language, and they decided to build themselves a tower. “It came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.” Isn’t that amazing? They came together, away from God, to build a name for themselves. It was as if they were building their own independent kingdom apart from God in the east.

Finally we come to the story of Abraham and his nephew Lot. Once Abraham and Lot’s herds and flocks became too large they had to split up, because the land couldn’t provide enough for all of them. Abraham approached Lot and suggested they go their separate ways. He gave Lot the first choice of which property he would like to have and he would take the other. “So Lot chose for himself all the valley of the Jordan, and Lot journeyed eastward. Thus they separated from each other.” Obviously if Lot went east then Abraham went west. Once they were separated God told Abraham he would give him all the land as far as his eyes could see, northward and southward and eastward and westward. Abraham had the heart of God. You can see it in the fact that he gave Lot first dibs on land. God’s heart is clearly seen in this by the fact he is always thinking of others first. Lot on the other hand seemed to only think about himself first; therefore he went with what looked good which was east, the way of the world.

In 1 John we are clearly told not to go the way of the world. He records, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” Here the way of God and the way of the world are shown to be completely incompatible. As we found in Genesis they are diametrically opposed to each other, in fact they are going in opposite directions such as east and west.

I had a conversation recently with a young man in the hallway of the jail. He asked me what I thought about tattoos and piercing. This man had plenty of tattoos; so I already knew how he viewed it. I told him, “Leviticus tells us not to do these things.” I said, “While that is the Old Covenant; my opinion is based on something a little different.” No matter if you call tattoos and piercing sin or not, one thing is for sure, it is worldly. I shared with him if we love the world the love of the Father is not in us. I said, “the world can do all of that; why would I want to do that?” He looked at me smiling and said, “I get you, I like that…. okay!” He raised his fist. We bumped fist and turned to go our separate ways. I don’t know which one of us was heading east and which one was heading west, but I pray we are both going the way God directs us.

Written by Louie

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