When sin came the tree of life was taken away.
A NEW HOME (22-24)
Then we come to the final verses of this most pivotal chapter. This part I’ve titled a NEW HOME. God banishes them from Eden. They get evicted. They get bounced. Now they have to go find a new home.
(Of course, while the Garden was probably the most beautiful place on earth, it wasn’t like that brand new, pristine, virgin world out there was lacking. I’m not trying to be irreverent and downplay the consequence of the banishment, but, they had the place to themselves and what a place it was!)
We have to ask the question “Why did God have to boot them?” What was the problem with them staying?
For one thing since they sinned there is in one sense the fact that they forfeited the right and the blessing of staying in Eden. Holiness is required to live with God, “Be holy because I am holy.” That’s the call to fellowship: God is holy and those who will be with Him in fellowship with Him are required to be holy. Banishment/separation/being driven away is the result of sin.
- Think of God using the Israelites to drive out the Canaanites from the land because of their wickedness.
- Think of Israel in Exile – they were taken off the land because of their sin. First by Assyria, then Babylon.
- Think of Church discipline – a fellow Christian living in unrepentant sin is put out of fellowship and avoided.
- Think of Hell – banished from the place of blessing in God’s presence forever – the ULTIMATE banishment/separation.
So while the right to live in God’s presence is lost when we sin, there is more. In the text we see God has something specific in mind that is a problem. That problem is the tree of life. Man is must be cut off from the tree of life. Look at the text
- Vers 22 says, “He must not be allowed to eat from the tree of life.”
- Verse 24 says that guardian cherubim were stationed “to guard the way to the tree of life.”
The stated purpose of the banishment was to prevent Adam and Eve from being able to eat from the tree of life. They could not be allowed to eat from it, so they had to go.
Who are the cherubim and what is the tree of life? Let’s look at them.
TREE OF LIFE
What is this tree of life all about?
The tree of life is only mentioned in the beginning and at the end of the Bible. In other words its seen (and accessible) when there is no sin in the world. It is there prior to the Fall and it appears again after God brings in the eternal home of righteousness (2 Pet 3:13).
Note: When sin came the tree of life was gone. When sin was gone the tree of life is back. Sin and death go together like life and righteousness go together.
But what about this tree of life? Genesis 2:9 says it was in the middle of the Garden near the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Also, in 3:22 we see that eating from the tree of life would allow someone to live forever.
Live forever. Hmm. Now here’s my question: Did a person only have to eat from the tree one time to live forever? Or, was eating of its fruit continuously what led to living forever?
I lean towards the latter. I think the text’s implication is that so long as someone kept eating from the tree of life they would continue to live. If they could go on eating it forever they would live forever. In other words, I don’t think if someone ate one time from the tree they would from then on have eternal life. Instead, I think its like this: If you had been eating from it but then were cut off from being able to eat from it then you would not be able to live forever.
Why? For one thing it seems that Adam and Eve ate of it prior to the Fall. Note very carefully that they were free to eat from the tree of life prior to the Fall. If you’re reading carefully you’ll notice that God did not forbid eating of the tree of life prior to the Fall. Turn to Genesis 2:16-17 and follow along with me.
Do you see what God said specifically? God specifically said it was only the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they were not allowed to eat from (Gen. 2:16-17). Look at it like this: in their innocence, in the absence of sin, they were free to eat of the tree of life. And so long as they remained innocent and never ate from the forbidden tree, they would always be free to eat of the tree of life and so live forever.
But, once they sinned God took the tree of life off the menu. Evicting them from Eden He cut off their access to the tree that was the source of eternal life.
That’s it for the tree of life. We have to leap all the way to the end of the Bible in Revelation to see it again. Turn to Revelation with me
- 22:14, 19
What have we seen? The tree of life will be in the paradise of God (2:7), which will be in the new heavens and new earth (22:2). In this new heaven and earth there will be a river flowing from the throne of God down the main street of the city of God. On both sides of that river the tree of life will be growing (22:2). Every month it will yield 12 crops of fruit (22:2) and the leaves of the tree of life will bring healing to the nations (22:2).
Most importantly we see this: it is JESUS who gives access to the tree of life. He gives it to those who overcome (2:7), He gives it to those who are allowed in the Holy City and who wash their robes (22:14). The last words of the whole Bible end with a warning: those who would take away from the words of the book of Revelation would have their share in the tree of life taken from them (22:19)
Summary: The tree of life is the food of eternal life. You won’t eat from it unless Jesus gives you access. Here’s the thing: don’t seek the tree of life. Seek the One who can give you the tree of life. Seek Jesus. He’s the One who can save you, wash you, and give you access to eternal life. If you want this tree of life you have to go to the Way, the Truth and the LIFE. Go to Jesus.
Notice the Cherubim. It’s interesting that there are multiple cherubim. Until reading closer I always had the thought of one cherub. But its two.
Then you keep reading in the Bible and you learn that two cherubim seem to be always “guarding” God’s presence. The ark of the Covenant had two cherubim on the lid. The curtain closing off the Holy of Holies had cherubim woven into its design. Over and over again the OT speaks of God “enthroned between the cherubim” or even “riding” on cherubim.
Satan was said in Ezekiel 28 to be a “guardian cherub” before he sinned.
Here we see the Cherubim guarding the way to the garden of Eden and the tree of life. Somehow God’s special presence was in the Garden. Of course it was – its where he walked and talked with man before sin.
So what’s the point. Wherever the presence of God is there are cherubim guarding the way. Now notice that they guard the way so long as man is sinful. They weren’t there before the Fall guarding the Garden. They aren’t mentioned in the Holy City in the new heavens and the new earth when God dwells with man. They seem to only be “guarding” the way to God’s presence when sin is in the world.
APPLICATION: To me it presses home the holiness of God even more. These majestic angelic creatures are beautiful and powerful. Their appearance and their purpose gives a striking impression of God’s holiness.
What do we have here? We have man created by God and enjoying fellowship with God until he listened to the serpent. Then he disobeyed God, broke fellowship, and became alienated from God. The combined effects of sin and the curses of God caused frustration and struggle to enter human existence – between humans, between spouses, and between man and the earth. God then clothes them and banishes them
In closing can I stress the fact that while God banished them He did NOT abandon them? Yes they had to leave Eden, but God did not leave them. As a matter of fact we see God’s plan of redemption already beginning: we see the willingness of God to provide a substitute. The first lamb slain for man’s sin was done by God. And so was the last Lamb: Jesus Christ. The sacrifice in the Garden began the sacrificial system. Jesus ended it with His own death on the cross. Here’s the question for you: Has Jesus put an end to your sins? Have you turned to Jesus and trusted in the One who put an end to your sins on the cross?