August 4th, 2021 – Late Wednesday Morning
“Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever’— therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.” ~Genesis 3:22-24
The initial human thought at reading this passage could be along the lines of: “The LORD is so unfair and cruel! He recognized that Adam and Eve now possessed His knowledge and He deliberately sent them out of the garden instead of allowing them to attain godhood by eating from the tree of life! He is so self-centered and mean!” To think this way, however, reflects the utter foolishness and short-sightedness of the sinful human mind; it projects our own selfish and egocentric perspective on to the One who created us and who is perfect in all of His ways.
What is the right way to look at this passage, then? First, remember that Adam (and Eve) had sinned against the LORD God’s good and right command; mankind deserved to be exiled from the garden (and from the LORD’s presence) because of his willful disobedience and rebellion. Second, while man had become like the LORD in knowing good and evil, the LORD was not saying that man had attained to the depth or scope of knowledge that He Himself possessed. Man’s knowledge was limited to knowing good and evil; it is not to be equated to the LORD’s omniscience. Finally, I believe it was also the LORD’s infinite mercy that led Him to expel Adam and Eve from the garden for their own well-being and protection.
Let me explain this last point further: Since Adam and Eve had gone from perfect innocence to shameful nakedness and sin – irreparably scarred for life through their disobedient consumption of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – eating from the tree of life would have permanently doomed them (and presumably all of mankind) to an eternity of that terrible knowledge and hopelessness. This is why I say it was the LORD’s infinite mercy that led Him to expel them; He knew what could happen if they retained access to the tree of life and He, in His foreknowledge, sovereignty, mercy, and goodness, did not allow that opportunity to continue to exist. He spared them (and quite possibly us) from never having the opportunity for redemption, reconciliation, and a renewed mind. This is not to say that Adam and Eve automatically enjoyed those three things with the LORD after the Fall, but we have through Christ Jesus the Lord; because the LORD God mercifully exiled them then, we can experience eternal life now.
You and I are often tempted to frame God into our own mindset, to doubt His goodness or faithfulness, and to question His mercy and grace. Yet, we are reminded again and again that His mercy endures forever, that His love compels Him to act, and that His ways and thoughts are much higher than our ways and thoughts. Let us not allow the world, the flesh, or the devil to sideline us; rather, let us allow the LORD to refresh our minds over and over with His goodness, love, and peace through our Lord Jesus Christ. He is so good and we are so blessed! Thank You, Father, for Your mercy – both to Adam and Eve…and to us!