In their loss of innocence, the caretakers changed in ways they could not have anticipated. For the first time they didn’t want to see the king. Suddenly they felt a need to cover themselves and hide. Never before had they blamed each other for anything. In the hours that followed, they learned the meaning of fear.
When the king found the couple, he gently pressed them for answers.12 Why were they hiding? Who told them they needed to cover themselves? Had they taken the path he told them to avoid? The caretakers were caught. But they were not ready to accept responsibility for what they had done. The man blamed the woman. The woman blamed the rebel.13 And though the rebel didn’t speak, there was contempt for the king in his eyes.
The caretakers were confused and frightened. A few hours earlier they had enjoyed affection for each other and the king. Now they were afraid.
Although the king wanted to forgive the couple for their failure to trust him, he didn’t ignore the results of their choices. He could not allow them to remain in their garden home.14 If he gave them access to the tree of life now, they would reverse the aging and dying process that had already begun. With unlimited time and freedom, the caretakers could become increasingly self-absorbed and alienated not only from the king but from each other as well. So that they would not live forever in their altered states, the king removed them from the garden.
Outside the garden, the king continued to provide for the couple. But the relationship had changed. The caretakers no longer trusted the king as they once had.
THE LEGACY OF A CHOICE
Even though the king stayed close to the first family, trouble stalked them. As the caretakers tried to rebuild their lives outside the garden, their firstborn son broke their hearts. In a moment of anger, he resisted the gentle counsel of the king. Then in a fit of blind rage, he killed his younger brother.15
Their lives would never be the same again. There was no turning back. The knowledge of good and evil had become more than a mysterious tree of freedom. It had become a legacy of regret and loss.
The son became a fugitive. Unable to live with his parents’ grief, he became a rootless wanderer. Always on the move, never at rest, he could not escape the memory of what he had done, and who he had become.16
In time, more sons and daughters were born to the first couple. Children of the caretakers multiplied with an ever-diminishing knowledge of the king.
Around watering holes and campfires, older members of the family told stories about the great king. But most of the children were more interested in the present than the past. The willingness of each new generation to live and die without regard for the king became as repetitive as the rising and setting of the sun.
Even after a catastrophic flood wiped out most of the earth’s caretakers,17 the children of the survivors continued to declare their right of self-rule. Those who were true to the king remained few in number and inconsistent in character.18
As the king’s citizens drifted from his values and vision, his likeness in them became more difficult to see. The strong oppressed the weak. Family disputes increased. Bad blood caused family members to put distance between themselves.
Leaders became alarmed. To reverse the trends that were driving them apart, the family needed a plan that would pull them together.
A vision emerged. The family would build a city big enough to keep the children from moving away. With a city center that touched the clouds, all who saw it would be proud of their achievement.19 Everyone who walked its streets would be inspired by the endless pride and possibilities of human cooperation.
But the builders had forgotten the vision of the king.20 As a new day broke, there was confusion on the construction site. Communication was disrupted. Members of the same family could talk among themselves, but they couldn’t understand anyone from another clan. Within hours, all work on the great city came to a standstill. Before long, caravans kicked up dust in all directions as each language group went looking for a place to call their own.21
THE KING’S PLAN
Even with the loss of their own dream, most of the family didn’t recall the vision of the king. They talked about what had gone wrong and why they weren’t able to live together in peace. But they didn’t have a place in their heart for a free world where everyone shared the values of the great king and helped one another the way he cared for them.
So the king took a new approach. He introduced himself to a 75-year-old caretaker and made a proposal: “Leave your home and follow me. I’ll give you a new homeland, many children, and a legacy of my love for all the families of the earth.”22
The old man and his wife had lived for many years without being able to have a child. Both had long since given up hope of having a son or daughter of their own. Their childlessness must have been a painful subject—especially since the caretaker’s name meant “exalted father.”
So they waited. But for almost 25 years the couple’s promised offspring never came. The king eventually repeated his assurance to the caretaker that through his children the world would find hope. He even gave the old man a new name that meant “father of many.”23
Then, when the man was 100 years old and his wife was 90, the impossible happened. The old woman gave birth to a son. His birth was so amazing and brought them so much joy that his name, which meant “laughter,” was a perfect fit.24
THE KING’S FAMILY
Within two generations the family had become a clan of 12 sons, their wives, and many children. Even though they were still a small family by comparison to the families of other caretakers, the children of a “childless old couple” had become a family of destiny. In the years that followed, the king unfolded his plan to use this chosen family to reveal himself to all the families of the earth.