Summary: The human race lost its way in the garden of Eden, and for thousands of years a return to the garden was prevented by the flaming sword. But at the proper time, Jesus knocked down the barrier of sin and made a way to return to the state of blessedness.
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I. Sin in the garden
As the crowning act of his creation, God created man and placed him in a beautiful garden.
Man was originally created perfect, in the very image of God, to love, commune with, and adore God who showered numberless blessings on him. God saw that the man was alone, and created woman to be his companion and help.
God, the man, and the woman were in perfect, unblemished harmony.
But sin entered. The serpent tempted the woman and she ate the forbidden fruit.
She told the man, and he ate.
The situation was altered immediately and radically.
They were now sinners, and hid themselves from God.
There had risen a barrier to perfect peace and harmony, and that barrier was their sin.
The man and the woman were estranged from the creator.
Except by the Creator’s own action, the estrangement was irreversible.
And that action would not be trivial.
Saving the human race would demand a terrible price.
But God would pay it.
The first biblical prophecy of Christ was spoken by God himself, said to Satan himself in the person of the serpent.
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel. Gen 3:15
God drove the man and woman from the garden, and made sure they would not re-enter it.
Genesis 3:22-23 - 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.
Today our focus is on the way to the garden, and the tree of life.
In our narrative, that way is now closed. Adam and Eve cannot re-enter the garden.
What do the garden and the tree of life represent?
(Everlasting life with peace and harmony in God’s presence.)
Being driven from the garden meant the man and woman no longer had access to the source of everlasting life.
Let’s take it from the beginning:
I believe that, while sinless in the garden, they enjoyed the direct presence of God.
Notice what happened when they sinned:
And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Gen 3:8
When they sinned, their sin separated them from God, alienated from him until the day redemption was purchased on the cross outside Jerusalem.
At the moment they sinned, the sweet intimacy with God in his direct presence--as they enjoyed it while sinless—was severed.
In consequence, God placed cherubim and a flaming sword before the garden.
What did the cherabim and flaming sword signify?
God himself guards the entrance.
The cherubim (angels) are real, not symbolic
Perhaps they signify divine judgment, denying transgressors the divine presence
Here is what we know. God is utterly incompatible with sin. If God allowed sinful man to dwell in his holy presence he could not cast out sinful Satan, without being an unjust God.
This story is a true tragedy.
• The serpent is degraded;
• the woman cursed with pains, miseries, and a subjection to her husband’s will
• the man is doomed to incessant labor and toil
• and the earth itself cursed with weeds
• the garden of pleasure is sealed from human entrance
• man, who was made in the image of God, was shamefully expelled from a place where only the pure and sinless could dwell.
• The irreversible process of aging had begun.
• In time, their bodies would die.
Death is separation.
Physical death is separation of the body and the spirit.
Spiritual death is a state of separation from God which, if unreconciled, is eternal.
Years later, Isaiah wrote to the people of Judah:
But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. (Isaiah 59:2)