Today as we come around the Lord’s Table I felt that it would be helpful for us to take another look at what our Lord has provided for us by way of His death for our salvation. And in order to do that, I want to go to a portion of Scripture that might be surprising to you. Remember our Lord’s words in John 5 where He said, “If you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words? Believe Moses, because Moses wrote of Me.”
That started very early in Moses’ writings. Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch, as they are known. But I want to go back to Genesis, all the way back to Genesis chapter 3, and Moses’ first reference to the coming Savior, the coming Lord. Genesis chapter 3. Genesis 1 and 2 record the creation; Genesis, the fall of man and the consequent devastation of the universe and all that’s in it, including humankind.
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Indeed, has God said, “You shall not eat from any tree of the garden”?’ The woman said to the serpent, ‘From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, “You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.”’
“The serpent said to the woman, ‘You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.
“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. Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ He said, ‘I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.’ And He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’ The man said, ‘The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.’ Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ And the woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’
“The Lord God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, cursed are you more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you will go, and dust you will eat all the days of your life; 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.’ To the woman He said, ‘I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you will bring forth children; yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.’ Then to Adam He said, ‘Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, “You shall not eat from it”; cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you will eat the plants of the field; by the sweat of your face you will eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.’
“Now the man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all the living. The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them. 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.”
Most amazing section of Scripture that explains why the world is the way it is. But at the very end of it, from verses 20 to 24, you have the first look at the gospel – the promise of redemption, the plan of salvation. As soon as man falls, God sets in motion the means to rescue him. This is because God is by nature a Redeemer and a Savior.
And, again, I cannot resist saying that the astonishing fullness of truth in these few brief words is a revelation of the ability of God to save vast things with an economy of words that is unparalleled. Here in this text from verses 20 to 24 we have the necessary components of salvation laid out for us in seminal fashion. In fact, there are four elements here that are essential to our salvation. From man’s side, faith and hope. From God’s side, atonement and security. And that is the sum of redemption’s plan: faith and hope, atonement and security. The salvation of sinners, their deliverance, their rescue from sin and death has always been by faith, in hope, through atonement and security.
Now obviously all the aspects of these four realities are not fully revealed here or anywhere else in the Old Testament in the progress of revelation. They’re not really fully even revealed in the Gospels. The full explanation comes after Christ laid out in the Epistles. But even here at the very beginning, the necessary elements for redemption are presented to us in very clear terms. This is the long view, looking at the cross from the very beginning.
Now the first essential for redemption and salvation is faith, faith. “The just shall live by faith,” Habakkuk 2 said. And that gets repeated in the New Testament. “We are saved by grace through faith,” Ephesians 2 says. We are very familiar with that. Romans chapter 3, “Not by works, but by faith.”
Saving faith can be defined in this way: believing what God said, believing what God said, believing the Word of God, having trust in God’s Word. Whatever God says is true. Obviously, Adam and Eve had not believed God, they had not trusted the Word of God. They decided that God was not honest, God was not truthful. Under the temptation that Satan laid before them, they believed the devil rather than God. They believed Satan was telling them the truth and God was not to be trusted. Satan convinced them of that, even though they were living in the middle of paradise in the presence of God and communing with Him constantly in that indescribable, perfect Eden. They were seeing and not believing, experiencing God’s presence and God’s perfection, and not trusting Him, having conversations with God and not sure that what He said was true. They had come to believe Satan; and when they believed Satan they were catapulted into sin and sorrow and suffering and death, and they dragged the whole human race and the entire created universe down with them. It all happened because they believed Satan and didn’t believe God. And so they found themselves cursed by God, as we read, starting in verse 14, the curse laid out all the way to verse 19. And the man and the woman were feeling the pain of that curse and the shame of that curse. They realized that Satan had lied.
How did they know Satan lied? Because they know their condition now. Death has stricken them. They have now been cursed by the God they were having wonderful fellowship with. And God is inflicting pain on them: pain in childbirth, pain in submission to a husband, pain in tilling the ground. But when the pain came, they knew Satan was the liar and God was the truthteller. Their faith is expressed in verse 20: “Now the man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all the living.” Eve means “life,” it’s what it means. He named his wife “life.”
Now remember, back in chapter 1 and verse 28, when God made man and made them male and female, chapter 1, verse 27, “God blessed them,” – verse 28 – “said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule it.’” So God told them that they were going to produce more human beings. They were going to be the two people who produced life.
The creation promise of reproduction was not abolished by the fall, and Adam now believes God’s promise. At the time that Adam believes this, Eve is the mother of no one. They have never experienced a pregnancy or a birth. But Adam believes that his wife is going to bring life into the world, that she’s going to be fruitful and multiply, because he now believes the promise of God. And what has convinced him is Satan was the liar, God was the truthteller, because God had said, “In the day that you eat, you will die,” and it began to happen.
Adam knew life would come from his wife, and not just life, but one very special life. Back in chapter 3, verse 15, there would come her seed who would crush the head of Satan. Believe me, Adam was looking for that, someone to come and crush the liar, the deceiver that had devastated their lives and their world. Based on that promise that from the woman was to come a seed, life, and that seed would crush the head of the enemy who had destroyed paradise for them, he names his wife “life.” That’s because he believed God’s promise.
This is Adams’ response to God’s punishment: turn to God now and trust God. So Adam believed the promise of God that a Savior would come and crush the serpent’s head, and rescue men from his tyranny. The woman would have a son, she would bring lie, and that son would triumph over Satan and restore paradise lost. He didn’t doubt God’s promise, he believed it. He was like Abraham who believed God’s promise against all experience and all reality. And when Abraham believed God it was counted to him for righteousness. And so it was for Adam and Eve. Now they believe God. Victory would come, life would come, and within that life would come One who would crush Satan.
He names her “life,” because she was the mother of all the living, by faith. At that moment she was nobody’s mother. But God said she would be; and Adam believed, and no doubt she believed. Naming her Eve was an expression of his faith in the promise of the Creator.
Adam believed in the salvation God had promised, and even in the Savior that would come. As far as was possible, his faith was in the unseen Christ, the as yet unborn Christ, not with New Testament clarity, not even with Old Testament prophetic clarity. But all you can do is believe what God has said; and all that God said, he believes. And in the progress of revelation that’s all that is required for righteousness to be credited to one’s account. He believed God. He was one of those men of old in Hebrews 11:1 and 2. He was the first one of those men of old who believed God.
The original command, “Be fruitful and multiply; you’re going to have offspring,” they believed it, which incorporated – think of this – repentance. They had to turn from believing Satan to believing God. They had to turn from trusting the Devil to trusting the Creator.
His attitude toward Satan was dramatically changed. Once Adam and Eve had been believers in God; that’s clear. And then they had become believers in Satan. But now in naming his wife “life” they have come back to believe God, His word, anticipating His promise and its fulfillment through his wife would come the Redeemer.
Here’s the essential nature of faith, it has a repentant element: you turn from believing the lies and the liar, to believing God and the truth. And doubtless, the woman had the same conviction that Satan was the liar and God was the truthteller, because God said they would die; and now they had begun to experience the realities of the working of death in them. She was to be, by the way, it says the mother of all the living, the mother of all the living. That eliminates any idea that there were any other human beings before Adam and Eve. Just in case you were thinking evolution can be found somewhere in Scripture, mother Eve is the mother of all living.
So the gospel of salvation is seen here. There’s the promise of one who is to come and crush the serpent’s head. He will come from the seed of the woman. He will be a human being. He will come originally from Eve, and Eve will produce humans. He will be one of them. They now believe God, they don’t believe Satan. The salvation requires faith. They believed all that God had said.
Today it’s the same thing. We are to believe all that God has said, far more than Adam and Eve knew in the garden. We know the full story, don’t we? Revelation is now complete. We have the entire Old Testament and New Testament.
But it’s not enough just to have faith; that’s man’s side. What about God’s side? Salvation on God’s side requires atonement. So that’s the second thing to mention. Salvation requires atonement. God cannot just accept your faith, unless He has made a provision by which that faith brings redemption, reconciliation, rescue.
So we read in verse 21, “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.” Notice the sovereign initiative in this. This is God doing what God designed to do. The unworthy couple deserved only death, but God immediately acts to show them that He has plans for them, and will provide an atonement for their sins.
Moses refers to God as the Lord God, Jehovah Elohim, identifying Him not only as the Creator God, but the eternal God, and as the Lord of grace. God is gracious, and God acts in a gracious, compassionate, merciful way for the shameful couple. He made garments of skins for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.
The second chapter ends, stark statement. In their perfection, verse 25, “The mane and his wife were both naked and not ashamed.” Naked and not ashamed. Naked and not ashamed because there was no such thing as an evil thought, no such thing as a perverted thought. But in chapter 3, after they had sinned, verse 7 says, “The eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked.” Now all of a sudden their nakedness is infected, it’s corrupted. It’s the ugly anticlimax to the promise of enlightenment.
Sin is now clinging to their innocence. They are self-conscious, they feel shame, they feel impure thoughts, they’re experiencing things they’ve never felt. And how interesting is it that the first indication of their fallenness is with regard to some sexual impurity. They’re experiencing evil thoughts in the place of innocence. They’re ashamed. Maybe it had to do with thoughts regarding the animal kingdom all around them. We don’t know, but they immediately made coverings, chapter 3, verse 7, to try to cover their shame.
Something happened. Lust happened, and perhaps perversion; and that brought shame. And by the way, there was nobody else to see them, so it wasn’t as if they were embarrassed in front of someone else; there was no one else. But they were embarrassed in front of God. And God reinforces that shame, that shame of nakedness, sinners’ nakedness, by making them more permanent coverings. Verse 21, “garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.”
Now here’s the main point. It’s not so much a point about modesty – although that’s certainly encompassed in the whole picture. The main point is that God provided for man’s physical clothing to cover his shame. This is an act of mercy on God’s part and is a symbol of God’s wanting to cover our spiritual shame with His provision as well.
Verse 21, you have the first death since creation, first actual death. Where is the death? The garments were made of skin. This is not sheering of a sheep, this is the execution of an animal. An animal dies. The whole work of salvation is really prefigured here, in which God clothes the naked sinner with a covering provided by a substitutionary sacrifice, a sacrifice that is innocent. An innocent victim provides an atonement and a covering for guilty sinners. In the beauty of the New Testament language, Galatians 3:27 says, “We are clothed with Christ.” This introduces the whole matter of atonement, covering of the sinner being covered by the death of an innocent substitute. A Lamb of God, slain before the foundation of the world, is in the mind of God when He does this first killing. God Himself chose this substitute. God Himself killed the victim. God Himself made the point. If man is to be covered genuinely and permanently, there must be a substitutionary atonement by the death of an innocent in his place, something only God can do. He has to choose the substitute. He has to make the sacrifice, make the offering, and cover those for whom the offering was made.
This is consistently taught throughout all of Scripture. You have very soon Noah making a sacrifice. Then you have Moses making sacrifices. You have sacrifices all through the Pentateuch. You have a sacrificial system laid out in detail in Numbers, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. You have sacrifices by Job in chapter 1, verse 5. Job was a patriarchal period figure. Sacrifices become a part of the life of Israel all the way down to the priesthood offering sacrifices at the time of our Lord. Repeatedly throughout all of Israel’s history, God put before them a symbol that sin only be covered by the death of an innocent. But none of the blood of bulls and goats or any other animals could actually do that. They all pictured Christ.
The sacrifice would be the One whose heel was crushed by Satan, but who crushed Satan’s head – borrowing the language of 3:15. The Old Testament prophets spoke specifically of the One who would be the only true sacrifice. Isaiah 53, “wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, chastisement for our peace laid upon Him; and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray, but the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” This is the gospel of God. From the sinner, it requires faith; from God, it demands atonement.
There’s a third element in salvation that we see in this text, and that is salvation requires security, salvation requires security. If God is going to save us, He has to keep us. And you see that in verse 22: “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.”
Obviously, the whole plan to deliver man is a grace operation. This is all coming from the sovereign purpose of God. Here grace appears in a specific manner. It already appeared in a sovereignly-designed covering, a substitutionary atonement, a picture of the very Christ who would provide, and did actually provide the atonement for Adam and all the people before the cross, as well as since. But what has happened here is the Lod God said, “The man has become like one of us, in the sense of knowing good and evil,” not as God knows good and evil outside of Himself, but as man knows evil inside of himself.
God knows evil, but never experiences it. Man knows evil by experiencing it. They knew evil by feeling it, by doing it, by thinking it. And now God is going to protect them from the temptation that could destroy them. He knows what man will do. Look back at verse 22. He’ll get back in the garden, he’ll find the tree of life, and eat and live forever. Now that he’s seen death, now that he’s seen death, he’s seen one death, a bloody death of an animal skinned, he’s going to want life. So he’s in danger. He will find the tree of life to live forever. The temptation to overpower death by eating would be overwhelming, especially now that he had seen a gruesome death.
And, by the way, Adam and Eve deserved death. They deserved an eternal, living death. They deserved to suffer in their wicked state forever. That would have been a just punishment. Justice would – mark it – leave them in the garden and let them go ahead and eat the tree of life, and live forever.”
You say, “Wouldn’t that be good?” No, that’s hell, living forever in sin, living forever in corruption, living forever defiled. That’s hell. There wasn’t going to be hell for Adam and Eve, they were believers for whom God had made an atonement. In their fallenness, they would go back, they would eat of the tree of life. And there was nothing in the actual tree, it was a matter of divine decree that made it that way. And if they ate, they would never, ever die; nor would they ever be anything but wretched. “Therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden.” They never would have left voluntarily. The verb is pretty strong: “expelled” them.
Adam and Eve now know how precious that garden experience was. There they walked and talked with God in the cool of the day. There the fellowship was pure, the environment was beyond all description. The garden was the place where they knew joy, purity, peace, love; but they couldn’t be there anymore. It could become hell for them. So God expelled them.
Why does He do that? To protect them from hell. He not only provides an atonement for them, but He secures them. This is a picture of the believer’s being secured, so that he’s never going to go to hell. Psalm 97:10 says, “He preserves the souls of His saints.” Atonement by grace. Security by grace.
There’s one last essential element of salvation in this text; it’s hope, hope. Now we’re back to the human side: hope. Verse 23, the middle of the verse, “He was sent out to cultivate the ground from which he was taken.” Then verse 24, “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.”
Sent him out to cultivate the ground. That echoes verse 17: “Cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you will et of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you will eat bread till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken. You’re dust, and to dust you shall return.” He was outside paradise, and he was cursed to labor and sweat. He was cursed by sorrow, sickness, suffering for the rest of his life on earth. And Adam lived nine hundred and thirty years. So you think you’re sixty-five and you need to retire.
He tilled the ground and sweat nine hundred and thirty years. Sixty-five years can make you hope for heaven. Just imagine nine hundred and thirty years. “Lord, when do we get to go back to paradise? When can we go back?” Labor, the sweat of the brow, is a kind of salutary means of discipline to awaken aspirations for heaven. The sinner, including all of us, is left to suffer in sorry and hope.
Paradise for us, like it was for Adam, was a hope. It’s not for now. “You can’t go back.” He drove him out, and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim. Adam and Eve were outside the garden now, outside the garden of divine delights and divine presence. They were outside paradise. Paradise was to the west, no where the sun rose, but where it set was the place of their former life of bliss in the presence of God, so that every sunset of every single day would remind them of what they had lost and would never regain in this life.
And the sufferings of life with pain. They had sons; one of them killed the other one. They had more children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. They were so wretched and so evil, and in a few generations God drowned the entire planet of humans, with the exception of eight people. It was one thing to till the ground, it was another thing to have your children, your grandchildren, and your great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren so wretched that God had to drown all of them.
Life’s hard. Life’s hard. And they lived in hope. But they couldn’t know it in this life. The Lord put the cherubim there. Cherubim appear in Ezekiel 1. This is the first time we see angels, first time we see death, first time we see angels in this text. They are beings of astonishing light, according to Ezekiel 1, astonishing brilliance, astonishing glory, and they surround the throne of God. So paradise is the throne of God, it’s the place where God dwells. The garden is a symbol of God’s throne, and the cherubim are there guarding His throne. Second Samuel 6:2 says, “The Lord of hosts dwells between the cherubim.” Second Kings 19:15 says, “The Lord God of Israel dwells between the cherubim.” They are the guardians of His throne, the guardians of His holiness.”
In the Holy of Holies, in the tabernacle and temple where the Ark of the Covenant was placed. Over the ark were two golden cherubim, symbolically guarding God’s throne. These angels are the guardians of the Holy of Holies. They are the guardians that protect God’s holy presence from any sinful invasion. And as if that wasn’t enough to keep them out, a flame sword which turned every direction, to guard the way to the tree of life was put in place. It must be an amazing thing to imagine, a flaming sword turning in every direction.
The way into the Holy of Holies was not open; no access, not in this world, not in this life, not here, not now. So believing? Yes. Forgiven? Yes. Atoned for? Yes. Secure? “Yes,” until they would get to heaven. But heaven was only a hope, as it is for us. And the longer we’re here, the more brightly that hope burns, right?
Why does God have us live in hope? Because hope sanctifies. “He who has his hope in Him” – 1 John 3:3 – “purifies himself.” Hope is the anchor of the soul. Hebrews 6:19, “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast which enters the presence behind the veil.
We’re anchored in heaven. Our home is there, our Father is there, our inheritance is there. But we live in hope. Psalmist said in Psalm 39:7, “My hope is in You, Lord. My hope is in You.” And that’s true with us as well. “Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for His help, whose hope is in the Lord His God.”
So Jesus said, “If you had believed Moses, you would believe Me. If you’ve heard Moses’ words, you would hear me.” Here are Moses words, and they present to us the earliest beautiful picture of redemption. From man’s side, it’s faith and hope. From God’s side, it’s gracious atonement and gracious security.
No sooner has the world been plunged into corruption and death, then God begins the rescue operation, and He starts with the two who were responsible for the fall. No matter how severe your sin, God is willing to save. God saved the two people who had did more damage than any two people could ever do since, or that all people combined could ever do since, and He still saved them.
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