Shadowlands – What If…

What if things had happened differently in Eden?


Eve stood in clearing, waiting for Adam.  She was mesmerized by the two Trees in front of her.  Why had they waited so long to come here – to just look at these two majestic Trees?  She told herself again that there was no harm in looking, in enjoying the beauty.

“They ARE majestic, aren’t they?”

Eve jumped at the silky voice.  She turned to see a beautiful creature, a serpent, standing there beside her, gazing up at the Trees.  How had he come up beside her so suddenly without her hearing him?  She was distracted from the Trees for a moment by his beauty.  Variegated fur ruffled in the wind, patterns swirling across his body.

“Yes, they are,” she answered.  “What is your name?  I don’t think we’ve met, and I thought I knew all the serpents that lived in the Garden.”

“My name?” he asked.  “My name isn’t really important.  But you!  You and Adam are the crowning achievements of Creation!  And here you are, admiring these majestic fruit trees in your Garden.  Tell me,” and he put a paw on her shoulder, “how does the fruit from that Tree taste?”

“I don’t know,” she replied.

“You don’t know?  You don’t know how the fruit of one of your own trees tastes?  How can that be?” he asked.

Eve suddenly felt very foolish.  It WAS her Tree, after all…hers and Adam’s.  She looked up at it again, taking in the lush fruit that hung, ripe and ready to be plucked.

The serpent spoke again.  “Let me guess,” he said.  “Did Elyon tell you not to eat that fruit?  Did he really place you in this beautiful Garden, tell you it was a gift for you, and then tell you that couldn’t eat any fruit from any of these beautiful trees?  What a shame.”  He shook in his head at the thought.

“No, that’s not right,” Eve said, glancing at him for an instant.  But her eyes were drawn back to that fruit.  It hung so low to the ground.  She took a step towards the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, then stopped.  “No, that’s not right at all.  The Three-in-One didn’t tell us we couldn’t eat from any tree in the Garden.  He gave us all of this, but He warned us not to eat from that tree because if we did, our spirits would die.”

The serpent laughed.  “You will NOT die.  That is ridiculous!  Your Three-in-One is holding out on you.  He knows that if you eat that fruit, you will become just like Him.  And He doesn’t want that.”

Eve considered this for a moment, then responded, “I don’t think that’s true.”

“What’s not true?” Adam asked, startling her as he walked up behind her.  “And who are you?” he asked the serpent.

“Who I am doesn’t matter.  Your Three-in-One isn’t who you think he is.  He’s deceiving you,” the serpent hissed.

“Well, let’s talk to Him about that right now,” Adam said.  He looked at Eve and she nodded back at him.  Together, they called out, “Elyon!  Logos!  Ruach!  Please help us!”  In an instant, the Three-in-One were with them, standing around them.

“How can we help you?” He asked.

“This serpent…he told me you were lying to us about the Tree,” Eve said.  “But You have provided so much for us, given us such a beautiful Garden in which to live.  We don’t believe You are deceiving us.”

“What should we do?” Adam asked.  “Help us know what to do.”

“You must choose,” Logos responded for the Three-in-One.  “Do you trust Me?  Or will you listen to the serpent?”

Adam and Eve looked at one another.  The Three-in-One had always cared for them, always provided for them.  The serpent…they didn’t even know who the serpent was.”

Adam spoke for them.  “We trust You.  Always.”

“Then tell the serpent to be gone, and he must leave,” Logos replied.

Adam looked at the serpent.  “You are not wanted here,” he said.  “Be gone.”

The serpent snarled in protest, started to speak.  But Logos raised a hand, pointing at him, and in a flash of light, the serpent was gone.

Now Elyon spoke.  “He has been banished from the Garden, by your choice.  He will never return unless you invite him.  But beware – never invite him.  His true name is Accuser and Deceiver, the Father of Lies.  He crouches like a predator, seeking to steal all that you have, to kill, to destroy all that you enjoy.  However – the choice will always lie before you.” 

And then the Three-in-One looked at one another and smiled.  Then spoke.  “Come, let us take our customary walk together in the cool of the evening.”

Prologue Part 10 – The Shadowlands

Days turned into weeks, weeks into months, months into years.

All around Adam and Eve, Creation continued to change. It was still good and still beautiful; still an expression of the Three-in-One’s creativity.

But it was broken.

The effects of Adam and Eve’s disobedience was spreading across the entire earth. Death had entered the world, and now it was a plague that was infecting everyone and everything. Plants; animals; fish; birds. Adam and Eve had seen animals that once loved one another fighting and killing and even eating one another. They themselves had found that they often disagreed and argued. Conflict seemed to be the state of the world now.

So much had changed. Not only did all the animals now fight and prey upon one another, they were also no longer friends to Adam and Eve. Some were threatening to Adam and Eve – they found that some of the animals could no longer be trusted, and some even attempted to prey upon them. The very animals that they had known intimately now feared, hated, or even desired to kill them.

Living in the wild was so different, too. They no longer enjoyed the protection and the blessings that Eden had provided for them. And where they had never had to work for their food – it simply grew, and fell into their hands when it was ripe – now Adam had to tend the land and work the ground, battling weeds and weather and even animals for the food that they needed to survive. Adam and Eve both missed Eden – it was a never-ending ache that nagged at both of them, a sense of loss that colored everything that they saw and did.

And the world looked different. Everything was different. The sun still shone, but even on the most glorious day, it wasn’t as bright or as colorful as it had been before…before the serpent and the Tree. The clouds seemed darker. The sky was blue, but somehow not as blue. It seemed as though some colors no longer existed. There was a vague memory of them…but Adam and Eve couldn’t quite bring them to mind or imagine what they had looked like.

The plants and trees…they died too. At times they would change – the plants would change colors or wither; the trees would shed their leaves and their bareness against the sky seemed to cry out for what once had been.

What Elyon had prophesied had come to pass. Creation had been corrupted, and as Adam and Eve watched, helpless to change it, the corruption grew.

Creation had been transformed. The Earth had become the Shadowlands. It now lay under the sway of the wicked serpent.

But Adam and Eve remembered. Elyon had promised that one day…one day, Logos would crush the serpent’s head. One day, they thought…perhaps all things would be restored.

Friday Fiction – Eviction

Shadowlands Prologue Part 9

“You must leave Eden.  You cannot be here, and you cannot come here ever again.”

Adam and Eve gasped.  But Elyon was not finished.

“First, you must be covered.  And without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin.”

Logos stepped forward and turned towards the meadow.  As Adam and Eve watched, He walked off.  Several moments passed, and then He returned, shepherding along several lambs.  Adam and Eve called out to them, as they always had.  But this time, the lambs did not speak.  They opened their mouths, but no words came – only bleating.  Unsure of what this meant, Adam and Eve looked at one another, then looked at Elyon. 

“It began the moment you sinned,” he said.  “Creation is beginning to experience the effects of your choice.  The animals have lost their voices.  But this is the least of all that will follow.”

Logos approached with the lambs, and then knelt.  He looked up at Adam and Eve, tears streaming down His face.  “The blood price must be paid,” He said.  “You will be spared, but these lambs will shed their blood and give their hides to cover your nakedness and shame.  This will be the way of atonement for sins…”  At this, He paused and looked up at Elyon.  A shadow crossed Elyon’s face, and Ruach shimmered a dark, crimson color.  Elyon finished Logos’ sentence:  “Until the day that the prophecy is fulfilled.  Until Eve’s seed crushes the serpent’s head.”

Adam and Eve watched, broken-hearted, as the lambs were slaughtered and then coverings were fashioned for them out of the lifeless bodies.

And then it was time to leave Eden.

*                                   *                                    *

The Three-in-One walked with Adam and Eve as they followed the course of one of the rivers through the Garden and to the hills that rose up, separating the Garden from the outside world.  When they reached the hillside, the Three-in-One hugged Eve and then Adam, reminding them that they were His beloved.  A few more instructions, and a promise:  “I will not leave you, nor forsake you.  Look for me.”

Adam took Eve’s hand and they walked along the river’s edge, out through the entrance to the Garden.  When they reached the other side of the hill, they looked back.  As they watched, a Seraph – a Fiery One, an ancient warrior – stepped into the gap and drew its sword.  The Seraph towered above the top of the hill, standing guard at the entrance to the Garden. Behind it, the sides of the hill began to close in, and the ground beneath swelled up, until a solid wall of earth was behind the Seraph.  Adam and Eve could no longer see the Garden.

Adam-Eve-From-Garden

They stopped to survey the wilderness around them.  They had been here many times before, but it looked much different now.  Some of the trees had begun to die.  Others had dropped fruit, which was now rotting on the ground.  New plants appeared – but they looked strange, uninviting.  Some were covered with spikes or other kinds of growths which were completely unfamiliar to Adam and Eve.

As they stood there, trying to understand the changes that were taking place, a zebra trotted into the clearing.  Adam called out to it, but as soon as it heard the sound of his voice, it looked towards him, and then ran off, terrified.  What was this?  The animals, who had been such close friends of Adam and Eve, now no longer spoke and were frightened of Adam and Eve.

Adam recalled something that the Three-in-One had told them as they had walked along on their way out of the Garden.  “Darkness will descend and reign over Creation.  A new age has begun.  This good and beautiful Earth will become more corrupt – will become the Shadowlands.  And it will remain the Shadowlands until the day of Kingdom Come.”

The Shadowlands.  Adam and Eve’s new home.

Friday Fiction – Judgment

Shadowlands Prologue Part 8

“Did you eat from the Tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

There was no accusation in the voice.  Only a deep sadness.

“It wasn’t me.” Adam spoke up.  “It was the woman.  The one YOU gave me.”

Elyon looked Eve.  “Is this true? What have you done, Eve?”

“It was the serpent YOU created,” she said.  Neither she nor Adam would look up at Elyon.

Elyon continued to stand in front of Adam and Eve.  But Logos turned towards the underbrush.  In a loud voice – a voice that Adam and Eve had never heard Him use – he commanded, “Serpent!  Come out!  Show yourself!”

They heard a rustling in the bushes, and then the serpent appeared, skipping out into the clearing.  He laughed and pranced with glee.  “Isn’t this something?” he asked.  “Now, whatever are you going to do?  Are you to kill these Image-Bearers like you promised?  I can’t wait to see!”

Elyon turned to the serpent and pronounced judgment.  “I will deal with my Children in a moment.  But first, you.  You were a liar and a deceiver from the beginning.  Your rebellion grows deeper.  And now – now, you are cursed above all livestock and and all wild animals.  You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.”  As he spoke, the serpent shriveled, his paws and arms receding into his side, his fur falling off, and his two legs and tail melding into one long, hairless tail.  He fell to the ground, now a long, thin creature that looked like a vine with no leaves.  As Adam and Eve watched in shock, scales grew over his pale skin, covering him.  He slithered now, backing away from Elyon.

But Logos stopped his progress, stepping in his path.  Elyon continued, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers.”  He looked up from the serpent at Logos, tears in His eyes.  “This serpent will strike at your heel, my Son.”  As Adam and Eve watched, it seemed as though Logos was transformed for an instant – He looked as though He had been badly beaten.  Blood was flowing from his forehead, and wounds appeared in His hands, His feet, and His side.  Adam and Eve both blinked – what was this?  But just as quickly, He appeared as He always had, whole and perfect.  Something must have been playing tricks with their eyes.

Elyon looked back at the serpent.  “Yes, you will strike at His heel.  But my Son will crush your head.  He will finish this.”

Logos stepped aside, and without a word, the serpent slithered off into the deep grass.

Then Elyon turned back to Adam and Eve.  He sighed deeply. 

“Eve,” he said, his voice filled with love.  “My dearly beloved daughter.  Because of your choice, pain has entered my Creation.  This means that your pain in child-bearing will be multiplied.  Giving birth to new Image-Bearers will involve painful labor.  You will desire to please your husband, and yet to control him.  But he will rule over you – not always in an honorable way.”

And then He looked at Adam.  “My dearly beloved son,” He said, “You kept silent.  You did not protect Eve.  You listened to her, and You ate the fruit, disobeying My command.  Because of these actions, my Creation has been corrupted.  The ground is now cursed, and will not bear fruit without great toil and work.  You will labor hard to produce food, and yet weeds will grow and choke what you have planted.  Life will now be much more difficult, much different than you have known.”

He paused for a moment, then spoke again.  “Adam, I created you from the ground – from the dust of the earth.  Eve, you were created from Adam.  And so both of you came from the dust of the earth, and both of you shall return to the dust of the earth.”

Adam and Eve were stunned.  They didn’t understand exactly what this meant, but it sounded ominous.

And then the Three-in-One spoke together.  This time, Adam and Eve understood clearly.

“You must leave Eden.  You cannot be here, and you cannot come here ever again.”

Friday Fiction – The Serpent

Shadowlands Prologue Part 6

Eve stood in clearing, waiting for Adam.  She was mesmerized by the two Trees in front of her.  Why had they waited so long to come here – to just look at these two majestic Trees?  She told herself again that there was no harm in looking, in enjoying the beauty.

“They ARE majestic, aren’t they?”

Eve jumped at the silky voice.  She turned to see a beautiful creature, a serpent, standing there beside her, gazing up at the Trees.  How had he come up beside her so suddenly without her hearing him?  She was distracted from the Trees for a moment by his beauty.  Variegated fur ruffled in the wind, patterns swirling across his body.

“Yes, they are,” she answered.  “What is your name?  I don’t think we’ve met, and I thought I knew all the serpents that lived in the Garden.”

“My name?” he asked.  “My name isn’t really important.  But you!  You and Adam are the crowning achievements of Creation!  And here you are, admiring these majestic fruit trees in your Garden.  Tell me,” and he put a paw on her shoulder, “how does the fruit from that Tree taste?”

“I don’t know,” she replied.

“You don’t know?  You don’t know how the fruit of one of your own trees tastes?  How can that be?” he asked.

Eve suddenly felt very foolish.  It WAS her Tree, after all…hers and Adam’s.  She looked up at it again, taking in the lush fruit that hung, ripe and ready to be plucked.

The serpent spoke again.  “Let me guess,” he said.  “Did Elyon tell you not to eat that fruit?  Did he really place you in this beautiful Garden, tell you it was a gift for you, and then tell you that couldn’t eat any fruit from any of these beautiful trees?  What a shame.”  He shook in his head at the thought.

“No, that’s not right,” Eve said, glancing at him for an instant.  But her eyes were drawn back to that fruit.  It hung so low to the ground.  Without realizing it, she began to walk slowly towards the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  “The Three-in-One didn’t tell us we couldn’t eat from any tree in the Garden.  He warned us not to eat from that tree, not even to touch its fruit,” she said, pointing, “or if we did, our spirits would die.”

The serpent threw back his head and laughed.  “Your spirits will NOT die,” he said.  “You foolish woman!  How could you believe that?  Eating a piece of fruit would cause you to die?  Oh, my.  I can’t believe that you have been so deceived.  Elyon doesn’t want you to eat that fruit because…well, I probably shouldn’t tell you.”

They were now standing right under the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, a branch laden with fruit at eye-level, right in front of Eve.  It looked so ripe, so luscious – unlike any other fruit she had ever eaten.  It smelled delicious.  Her mouth began to water.  She responded to the serpent without taking her eyes off of the fruit: “What?  Tell me, serpent.  Why doesn’t Elyon want us to eat the fruit?”

“Yes, why?”  It was Adam.  He had returned, having discovered nothing but a couple of broken branches on a few small trees.  “Why would Elyon lie to us?  Why would he tell us not to eat this fruit?”

The serpent laughed again.  “Why?  Because he is afraid!  He doesn’t want you to eat this fruit because this fruit is special – it is magic.  The truth is that if you eat this fruit, you won’t die.  Instead, you will become just as wise and as powerful as him!  There are things you don’t know and don’t understand – and this fruit will make you wise.  Your eyes will be opened to things that are hidden from you!”

“Really?” Adam asked.  “Why would you say that?”

The serpent didn’t answer.  Instead, he tightened his grip on Eve’s shoulder, pushing her closer to the branch.  “Look at it,” he whispered.  “It’s so beautiful.  You can smell how wonderful it is…can you imagine how it must taste?  And think of it – one bite and you’ll become like Elyon.  You’ll be like the creator.  You could do anything you want!”

Adam stood there silently, unsure of what to do.

Eve looked at the fruit – smelled it.  She caressed it with her eyes.  It looked so lovely – more than any fruit she had ever eaten.  And it would taste so good.  And…it would make her as wise as Elyon?  She felt so foolish that she had never eaten it.

The serpent pointed with his other paw.  “Go ahead and touch it,” he said.  “You’ll see.  Nothing will happen.  Then you’ll know it’s okay to eat it.”

She reached out and touched it.  Nothing happened.

So she wrapped her hand around it and plucked it from the Tree.