Genesis 3:22-24 - The First Act of Deliverance or Salvation: Man is Saved From Living Forever as a Sinner in a Fallen World
God created man to bless him beyond all imagination. But man turned away from God and rejected Him. What was God to do? Was He to let His purpose for man be defeated? This was impossible—for He is God, and God’s purposes can never be thwarted. Therefore, God did exactly what He had told man He would do if man rebelled against Him:
· God judged man.
· But God also put His purposes back on track. God worked out a way for man to still receive life and clothing, the clothing of righteousness.
This we have already seen and studied. But now, God still has one more problem to handle. There still remains one more thing to do. God must deliver and save man from living forever as a sinner in a fallen world. This is the discussion of this great passage: “The First Act of Deliverance or Salvation: Man is Saved From Living Forever as a Sinner in a Fallen World.”
A. God’s problem (v.22a).
1. “The man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil…” (v.22a).
a) The tree of life.
(1) From the point of view of a simple understanding of this story the tree is puzzling.
(a) Commentators have asked whether it is supposed to be the same tree as “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (2:17).
(b) If there were two trees, what are we to suppose was the purpose of the second one? Would this tree actually impart eternal life?
(c) If so, had Adam and Eve eaten of it before they sinned? If they had and if they had lost such life by sinning, how could they be supposed to regain life now?
(d) If they had not eaten, why not? Questions of this type could be multiplied indefinitely, but they are actually beside the point.
(e) Presumably this was a literal tree, just as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was also literal. Both involved a real eating or not eating.
(f) But the meaning was not in the actual trees or their fruit but rather in what the fruit stood for.
(i) In the one case, it was a knowledge of good and evil, which Adam and Eve gained by sinning. In this case, it was an eternal continuation of life in its sinful state—however it might actually have been communicated.
(ii) If Adam and Eve had been allowed to live forever, they would have lived as sinners. They were to be set free from sin only by a literal death and resurrection.
(2) What a sad picture! There’s Adam, with his head bowed, face covered in shame. There is Eve, head thrown back, crying out in anguish. But it is not just Adam or Eve.
(3) This is you and I and all who go their own sinful way rather than obeying God.
Jesus spoke of his purpose in coming into the world saying, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
(4) If we will not have God and Christ, if we will not walk in that way, we will not have life. We will have death even in life, and our death will be the worst of all deaths eventually.
The apostle Paul spoke of a widow living in sin by saying, “The widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives” (1 Tim. 5:6).
b) Life without God.
(1) Sin keeps us from God. For if God is the source of life and if sin keeps us from life, then sin obviously keeps us from God too. But the lesson is made even more vivid in this passage.
(2) In order to understand how powerful this is we have to learn something about the angels called cherubim, mentioned in verse 24.
(a) These are referred to sixty-five times in the Bible.
(b) In (Ezekiel 10:1-5), Ezekiel describes these as being associated with the throne and glory of God.
(c) Parts of this vision are hard to understand, but several things are clear. It is a vision of the glory of the presence of God, symbolized by the Shekinah cloud.
(d) In (Rev.4:6-10 & Is.6:1-3), Revelation, Ezekiel’s phrase “living creatures” is used of otherwise unnamed beings that surround God’s throne.
(3) At this point the meaning of the appearance of the cherubim in Genesis emerges.
(a) For if the cherubim appear and if they drive the man and woman away, then it is God himself from whom Adam and Eve are barred.
(b) The lesson is that sin does that. Sin bars us from God, and this is the greatest of all tragedies.
(4) This was not God’s will for us nor our intended destiny.
We are created by God. We read in Acts 17 “In him we live and move and have our being” (Act 17:28).
(5) The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks what the chief end of man is and answers correctly, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever”
(6) But what happens?
(a) Adam, having been created to glorify God and enjoy him forever, is now being driven from God’s presence. Eve is banished.
(b) What has brought them to such a sorry state? The culprit is sin, and the consequence is separation from the One who is altogether loving.
Remember when Paul was writing to the Ephesians in Chapter 2? He said "remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ." (Ephesians 2:12-13, NASB95)
(c) Let us learn, then, that sin does matter and that the devil is wrong when he says that sin will not hurt. Sin disrupts. It disrupts that greatest of all relations: that between a man or a woman and God.
c) Man had sinned; man knew not only good, but evil. What does this mean?
(1) Remember what Satan said to Eve (Gen.3:4-5)?
(a) What Satan had promised Eve had become partially true. That’s what Satan does is quote the Bible, telling us partial truths. He did it to Jesus (Matt.4:5-7).
(b) But their likeness to God was not glorious but shameful.
(c) They wanted to decide what was right and wrong apart from God’s Word.
(2) To know evil means that man has personally experienced evil (James 1:13-15):
(a) God knows evil because He sees evil as it lies spread out before Him. God does not know evil by experience.
(b) Man knows evil by personal experience. Man thinks and does evil. Man harbors evil thoughts and man commits evil acts.
(c) There still remains one more thing to do. God must save and deliver man from living forever as a sinner in a fallen world.
(d) This is what it means to know evil.
!! B. God’s decision (v.22b).
1. “Lest he put out his hand & take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever…” (v.22b).
a) Man must not be allowed to live forever as a sinner in a fallen world
The NLT puts it this way: “What if they reach out, take fruit from the tree of life, and eat it? Then they will live forever!”" (Genesis 3:22, NLT)
The NIV renders it this way: "He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." (Genesis 3:22, NIV)
(1) God could not allow man to live forever as a sinful, corrupt being; a being who would never again know the fullness of God’s presence.
(2) Nor did God want man to live under the curse of being judged, condemned, and punished forever and ever; a being who would never have the opportunity to be saved.
(3) God acted in mercy.
C. God’s deliverance or salvation (v.23-24).
1. “The Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden…” (v.23).
a) God delivered man by driving him from the Garden of Eden (v.23).
(1) Adam knew that his sin had come between him and God.
(2) I would assume Adam did not want to leave the presence of God nor the perfection of God’s paradise. Adam knew that he was being...
(a) separated from God
(b) alienated from God
(c) removed from God’s presence
(d) excluded from paradise
Isaiah writes in chapter 59 that “Your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear." (Isaiah 59:2, NIV)
Speaking about unbelievers, Paul says "They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts." (Ephesians 4:18, NIV)
(3) God banished Adam & Eve from the garden for at least 2 reasons:
(a) God started over with Adam: Adam had failed the first commandment and condition, established by God – he ate of the forbidden tree.
(i) God gave Adam another chance. God put Adam in a new environment with new conditions and terms.
(ii) The new conditions focused upon the promised seed of the woman, the Savior of the world. Adam was now required to trust the promised seed.
(b) God had to deliver and save Adam in such a way that Adam could be made righteous, and perfected forever.
(i) How would trusting the Savior free Adam from sin and make him righteous or perfect before God?
(ii) Scripture tells us in just a few chapters ahead of this one, in (Genesis 15:6).
(c) Think About This. Adam and all the other Old testament believers looked ahead to the promised seed, the Savior of the world, whereas we look back to Him.
(d) They believed in the coming Savior; we believe in the Savior who has come. They believed in the promised Savior; we believe in the promises of the Savior.
!!! 2. “He placed cherubim… to guard the way to the tree of life…” (v.24).