The first saints on safari were Adam and Eve. Whether you believe that they were an originally created pair who are the parents of all of us, or that their story is a myth, shaped to tell a larger story, the concept of their beginning life outside Eden’s Garden is a chilling one.
In the Garden, they had all needs supplied, plus more. They had safety, even among the animals that we consider to be predators today. They had housing, food, no need for medical care because illness was unknown. They had companionship with each other, fellowship with other species, power over the rest of creation.
They had residence in the ultimate vacation destination, with no need of a vacation because they did not have to work. What ever we strive for, wish for, think longingly of, they already had. Without question, they were cared for in every way.
Best of all, they had intimacy with God. They walked and talked with the One who had created them. They experienced the relationship that the human heart has longed for since that time.
When they were removed from their idyllic life, and began a life of toil and suffering, I wonder how often they regretted their act of disobedience and willful choice. They began to endure the long cycle of pain that has plagued us since.
I do not know what their greatest sorrow was, but I suspect that the murder of a son by another son must have ranked high on the list, and the murderer’s banishment from their life had to hurt greatly.
The grief in that story is overwhelming, but in the midst of it, we find hope and promise. The naked pair, vainly attempting to cover themselves with leaves, were carefully and lovingly clothed by the Creator whom they had scorned. They were dressed in animal skins.
Imagine what may have happened. A place where no death had occurred knew the death of that (those?) animal(s). A sacrificial death, to cover the exposure and vulnerability of human disobedience, a shedding of blood to show the Creator’s love for them, even in the midst of his disappointment.
Was this a foreshadowing of the atoning death of Christ? The law of Moses, many years later, called for animal sacrifice until the death of Christ fulfilled the law. We still toil and struggle, suffer and know sorrow. Yet what the first family lost in the Garden of Eden was restored in the Garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus chose to be obedient. His choice cancelled theirs, forever, and restored the intimacy with God that each human heart is created to share.