God is in our midst this Easter: Dr Tan Lai Yong

Jesus died and rose again so we may have abundant life right now. This Easter, Salt&Light invites you to find out more about Jesus.

Dr Tan Lai Yong // April 14, 2022, 12:43 am

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When God closed off Eden to Adam and Eve, his was not a heartless intention to let us wallow in our lostness, but to put in place a redemption plan, reflects Dr Tan Lai Yong as he serves among villagers who have yet to know Christ. Photo by Dr Tan Lai Yong.

“Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever —’ therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.” (Genesis 3:22-24, ESV)

Seems like the Lord locked Adam and Eve out of the paradise, placed a flaming sword, drew a line and threw away the key. 

Exit Eden.

This Bible story has fascinated me since young and I often wonder if we shall see the garden of Eden again.

Stewards of our garden

Another story that has fascinated me since college days is the account of Alfred Russel Wallace who described the Wallace Line around 1859 – and he did it while travelling around the high seas in sailing ships of old. The Wallace line sort of demarcates the vastly different animals – marsupials, for example – that thrive in the islands east of Bali. 

I was thus delighted to be part of a community health project in some remote islands that lie east of the Wallace Line. 

I often wonder if we shall see the garden of Eden again.

While taking a short hike through a forested area, our usually gung-ho, high-spirited local guide came to a sudden halt.

“Sorry, we cannot walk on this path. This is a ‘sasi’,” he said, pointing ahead.

We peered ahead to see what he was pointing at. A coconut branch and a coconut that had sprouted was placed on a simple wooden frame across the path. 

I soon learnt that in several islands east of the Wallace Line, communities have this practice of sealing off a plot of land with a sasi. I thought it was witchcraft, or a means for fighting off intruders, or a protest against development. 

My local guide shared with me that, in the best tradition, the sasi is meant for stewardship and care. The community leaders put a sasi on the beach so as to prevent over harvesting of shellfish. They put a sasi in a forest area to protect precious wood trees.

They do this as stewards of the land. It is good for the land (or beach or lake) and, in the long run, good for the local community.

God among us

The word, “placed” that is used in Genesis 3:24 is used five times in the book of Exodus. It is the same word for “dwell”:

  • “The glory of the Lord dwelt on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days” (Exodus 24:16)
  • “And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst” (Exodus 25:8)

The Lord did not close off Eden with the heartless intention of letting us wallow in our lostness. God’s redemption plan is to steward us by placing Himself in our midst, to dwell among us.

At the passover and, thus at Easter, we see that placing the sword and the cherubim (to protect Eden) is not the end-game.

John 1:14 tells us: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Left on our own, without the flaming sword and cherubim, we would have intruded into the garden to destroy it and destroy ourselves.  

At the passover and, thus at Easter, we see that placing the sword and the cherubim is not the end-game.

God’s love is not vested in keeping pristine gardens. His love surmounts obstacles and He places Himself in our midst. It is described in a song, What A Beautiful Name, that is often sung: 

You didn’t want heaven without us
So Jesus You brought heaven down
My sin was great Your love was greater
What could separate us now
What a wonderful Name it is
What a wonderful Name it is
The Name of Jesus Christ my King

At Easter, I am reminded that God is not the “key throwing” type.

Back on the island, I thought that I would not be able to hike that trail. Our cheerful guide smiled and reassured us that the sasi would be removed in good time.

“When?” I asked.

“When the purpose is completed. When the land is taken care of – then it will be opened.”

At Easter, I am reminded that God is not the “key throwing” type.

Christ’s sacrificial work on the cross is God’s stewardship over our eternity.  

Why do we need Jesus? How do we receive Jesus if we are ready? Click here to find out. 

Find a Church: If you would like to attend a church to learn more about the Christian faith, here is where you can find one among over 500 churches in Singapore.


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About the author

Dr Tan Lai Yong

Dr Tan Lai Yong became a Christian in 1974 through the Youth For Christ at Siglap Secondary School. He and his wife have been members at Bethesda Frankel Estate Church since becoming Christians as teenagers. They have two kids in their 20s. Dr Tan and his family lived in Yunnan, China, from 1996-2010. He and his wife continue to work with poverty affected communities in villages.