During a recent time of study I learned something I found quite amazing. In the Garden of Eden after the fall God expelled Adam and Eve from the garden by removing them via the east side of the garden. Later when Cain was cast away it was to the East that he traveled and established the first city in the Bible, Enoch. Over and over we see examples of man moving East up until the time of Abraham. This is the first time that man moved west. So what does this mean?
In Genesis moving East was a symbol of moving away from God’s presence. It was typically a result of turning away from or sinning against God. For example when Lot departed from Abraham he went East to Sodom. It is in these choices that we are leaning on our own understanding. It is when we choose to think we know the answers or simply don’t take the time to ask God for direction. It is also in these times when we get ourselves in difficult circumstances.
We also look back in the Bible and see a pattern of God pursuing the heart of man and drawing him back to relationship with the Father. One example of this was the tabernacle. It was set up by God’s direction so that when entering it you had to walk West. This is also true of the temple in later days.
It began to speak to me that from the very beginning God didn’t act in anger but rather He sought to redeem the heart of man by calling Him back to relationship. It is as if by setting our face to the West we were retracing the very acts and choices that took us to the East in the first place. It is in fact a picture of God’s redemptive nature.
God does not look over us in anger when we have turned away from Him. Rather He sets in action steps to restore us to His presence and be blessed once again by our relationship with Him. Isn’t it interesting that each day the sun rises in the East and sets in the West. Equally amazing is how a sunflower will face East and actually turn its head to track the path of the sun across the sky to the West. Yet more ways of God meeting us in our sin and showing us the way to turn back to His love.
This revelation has challenged me to consider are there areas of my life where I have chosen to turn East and look to myself, my own understanding or ideals rather than to stay in His presence. Are there steps I need to take to go West? Lord help all of us to keep our face set to the West and to dwell in your beautiful and loving presence.