Matthew 2, Luke 2
Due to a family death, I did not have the chance to prepare much for this week’s lesson. However, I did want to share a story that ties the Wise Men’s gifts in with Adam and the Garden of Eden.
In the early text, Conflict of Adam and Eve Against Satan, we find the couple have been cast out of the Garden, and spend much of the 2 books mourning their loss of the beauty and glory of the Garden. After a series of events, where Satan tempts and tries Adam and Eve, he appears to them and tries them again. In this instance, he appears with his demonic host as angels of light. Satan tells them that God has sent him to take them near the Garden, to be bathed or baptized in water, in order to be cleansed so they can re-enter the Garden. Adam and Eve follow Satan, who takes them to the top of a mountain, where he intends to push them off and kill them.
4 Then Satan, the hater of all good, said unto Adam, "O Adam, I am an angel of the great God; and, behold the hosts that surround me.
5 "God has sent me and them to take thee and bring thee to the border of the garden northwards; to the shore of the clear sea, and bathe thee and Eve in it, and raise you to your former gladness, that ye return again to the garden." ….
10 But when they came to the mountain to the north of the garden, a very high mountain, without any steps to the top of it, the Devil drew near to Adam and Eve, and made them go up to the top in reality, and not in a vision; wishing, as he did, to throw them down and kill them, and to wipe off their name from the earth; so that this earth should remain to him and his hosts alone. (1st Book of Adam and Eve, chapter 28).
In fact, Satan pretended to be the chief of the host of heaven, Yahweh the Angel of the Lord’s Presence, and the Captain of the army or host of heaven. In this precarious position, God calls to Adam and warns him of the deception. Adam weeps and begs for some boon or blessing from the Garden. God calls forth his three main arch-angels: Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.
1 BUT when the merciful God saw that Satan wished to kill Adam with his manifold devices, and saw that Adam was meek and without guile, God spake unto Satan in a loud voice, and cursed him.
2 Then he and his hosts fled, and Adam and Eve remained standing on the top of the mountain, whence they saw below them the wide world, high above which they were. But they saw none of the host which anon were by them.
3 They wept, both Adam and Eve, before God, and begged for forgiveness of Him.
4 Then came the Word from God to Adam, and said unto him, "Know thou and understand concerning this Satan, that he seeks to deceive thee and thy seed after thee."
5 And Adam wept before the Lord God, and begged and entreated Him to give him something from the garden, as a token to him, wherein to be comforted.
6 And God looked upon Adam's thought, and sent the angel Michael as far as the sea that reaches unto India, to take from thence golden rods and bring them to Adam.
7 This did God in His wisdom, in order that these golden rods, being with Adam in the cave, should shine forth with light in the night around him, and put an end to his fear of the darkness.
8 Then the angel Michael went down by God's order, took golden rods, as God had commanded him, and brought them to God. (chapter 29).
The Lord then called forth Gabriel, the angel of the Annunciation:
AFTER these things, God commanded the angel Gabriel to go down to the garden, and say to the cherub who kept it, "Behold, God has commanded me to come into the garden, and to take thence sweet smelling incense, and give it to Adam."
2 Then the angel Gabriel went down by God's order to the garden, and told the cherub as God had commanded him.
3 The cherub then said, "Well." And Gabriel went in and took the incense.
4 Then God commanded His angel Raphael to go down to the garden, and speak to the cherub about some myrrh, to give to Adam.
5 And the angel Raphael went down and told the cherub as God had commanded him, and the cherub said, "Well." Then Raphael went in and took the myrrh.
6 The golden rods were from the Indian sea, where there are precious stones. The incense was from the eastern border of the garden; and the myrrh from the western border, whence bitterness came upon Adam.
7 And the angels brought these three things to God, by the Tree of Life, in the garden.
8 Then God said to the angels, "Dip them in the spring of water; then take them and sprinkle their water over Adam and Eve, that they be a little comforted in their sorrow, and give them to Adam and Eve.
9 And the angels did as God had commanded them, and they gave all those things to Adam and Eve on the top of the mountain upon which Satan had placed them, when he sought to make an end of them.
10 And when Adam saw the golden rods, the incense and the myrrh, he was rejoiced and wept because he thought that the gold was a token of the kingdom whence he had come, that the incense was a token of the bright light which had been taken from him, and that the myrrh was a token of the sorrow in which he was.
Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh
So the three arch-angels brought to Adam gifts or tokens from the Garden of Eden, to remind him of his former life in glory and paradise. The Lord then explained to Adam and Eve:
AFTER these things God said unto Adam, "Thou didst ask of Me something from the garden, to be comforted therewith, and I have given thee these three tokens as a consolation to thee; that thou trust in Me and in My covenant with thee.
2 "For I will come and save thee; and kings shall bring me when in the flesh, gold, incense and myrrh; gold as a token of My kingdom; incense as a token of My divinity; and myrrh as a token of My suffering and of My death.
3 "But, O Adam, put these by thee in the Cave (of Treasures); the gold that it may shed light over thee by night; the incense, that thou smell its sweet savour; and the myrrh, to comfort thee in thy sorrow." (chapter 31)
Adam placed the tokens of the Garden in the Cave of Treasures and was comforted. The Cave of Treasures was the place where Adam and Eve dwelt after being cast out of the Garden and God's presence. It was a holy place, and would also become the tomb for Adam and many of his righteous descendants.
10 These remained by Adam in the House of Treasures; therefore was it called "of concealment." But other interpreters say it was called the "Cave of Treasures," by reason of the bodies of righteous men that were in it.
11 These three things did God give to Adam, on the third day after he had come out of the garden, in token of the three days the Lord should remain in the heart of the earth. (chapter 31)
With this early story, God foreshadowed and foretold the birth of Christ, with the Magi bringing the sacred gifts to the holy child. Just as great beings brought the gifts from the Garden of Eden to Adam and Eve, so the wise men brought the same gifts to Christ, recognizing his royalty, his life, and his death. In attending the temple, we, as with Adam and Eve, receive the gifts of the Garden, that tie us to the birth of the Savior of all mankind. And in coming to Christ and giving him our hearts and souls, the Savior cleanses us that we may return to the Garden of Eden, even back into the presence of God.
First Book of Adam and Eve: http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/fbe/index.htm#section_000
Also, check out Jim F’s lesson: http://timesandseasons.org/index.php/2011/01/nt-sunday-school-lesson-3-luke-2-matthew-2/