LEST HE LIVE FOREVER
"Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever; therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken" (Gen 3:22-23).
The first sin of mankind had the most far-reaching consequences. It not only impacted the persons committing it, everyone after them was affected. We are told "death passed upon all men" because of the sin of "one man" (Rom 5:12). The entire human race was disqualified by the transgression that occurred in Eden's Garden. Sin not only was found in the guilty pair, "sin entered into the world, and death by sin." And this happened at the beginning of history. A terrible blight, indeed!
Although made in the image of God, man was not fully conformed to that image. Now, the Lord said, "the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil." He did not mean Adam had gained some advantage by being disobedient. Rather, in disobeying a clear Divine mandate, he had sought further advantages for himself–unlawful advantages. Because Adam "was not deceived" (1 Tim 2:14), his disobedience was especially reprehensible. It is as though he was flaunting the Divine imagery, exercising his will to do what was unlawful. It was clearly the character of Satan himself that had gripped him.
Because of this circumstance, God "sent him out of the garden." The reason for this action is clearly stated: "lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever." There are some things we learn from this. First, apparently Adam was not created immortal, or incapable of death. Even though death had not yet "entered" into the world, life appeared to have been sustained from the "tree of life." Nowhere is it suggested that Adam was created immortal, even though he was not subject to death prior to his transgression. He was "in the image of God," but not in the "express image," as is the Son (Heb 1:3). Second, even though Adam had sinned, and the Divine image had been marred, he could have "lived forever" by eating from the "tree of life." This is a most challenging consideration.
To prohibit Adam and Eve from "living forever," they were expelled from the garden. To further ensure they would not be able to access the "tree of life," the Lord "placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life" (Gen 3:24).
In this expulsion the Lord displayed His great mercy. He also opened the door for a remedy to the human dilemma. When you read the words "and live forever," adding the words "in his sin" brings out the meaning. It was not that God did not desire men to live forever, but that He did not want him to live forever in a defiled and unacceptable state. It perfectly correlates with the expression stating God is "not willing that any should perish" (2 Pet 3:9). Mercy is to be seen in this deed.
By consigning man to death, the Lord made provision for his reclamation. He would, through the coming Savior, raise him from death "in trespasses and sins" (Eph 2:1). He would not "live forever" by eating from a tree, but by participating in the Divine nature. Eternal life would be a gift, freely granted through faith, not through a tree.
Thus, in the passing of death "upon all men," a curse is, indeed, seen. Yet, the judgment was MORE than a curse. It was NOT like the sentence passed upon the fallen angels, who were summarily "reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day" (Jude 6). From such chains, there can be no recovery. However, there CAN be recovery from death! Death is NOT a condition of hopelessness! It can be "swallowed up in victory" (Isa 25:8; 1 Cor 15:54). The "chains of darkness," however, are permanent and irreversible.
Thus, in the conferring of death upon His chief creation, the Lord opened "a door of hope" in the midst of an exceedingly dark valley (Hos 2:15). Also, He did not cover Adam and Eve with the shroud of death, but with "coats of skins" (Gen 3:21), alluding to a coming provision for sin. Their transgression, which could not be ignored, would actually be "put away" by the coming Seed. That Seed would recover man from the sentence of death.
Whether we are speaking of "death in trespasses and sins," or the appointment "once to die," salvation in Christ provides a complete remedy. For "death in trespasses and sins," there is "atonement," "forgiveness," "justification," and "washing." There is "reconciliation," "sanctification," and the conferment of "righteousness." For the appointment to death, there is the "hope of the resurrection," the anticipation of a "house from heaven," and "immortality." But none of those could be possessed if we had access to the tree of life.
PRAYER POINT: Father, I see Your great wisdom in passing death upon all, that you might have mercy upon all through Jesus Christ. In His name, I thank and prause You for this remarkable and effective wisdom.
-- Monday: THE LAW OF FAITH IS DIFFERENT --