I have a lot on my mind and heart to say to you tonight from the text of Genesis chapter 3, so let’s open our Bibles to this final section of verses 20 through 24. Genesis chapter 3. In the third chapter of Genesis, we basically are dealing with the subject of the origin and impact of sin, and we have done many messages in this chapter. We now come to the end of the chapter where the theme is the promise of redemption. We have studied the origin of sin, the impact as far as the curse, and now the impact as far as redemption.
Let me read verses 20 to 24. “Now the man called his wife’s name Eve because she was the mother of all the living; and the Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. And the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; now, lest he 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 at Eden, He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.”
Now, as we approach these verses, the five verses that end this great chapter, I want to remind you that God is by nature a Savior of sinners. In fact, God bears that title. First Timothy chapter 1, He is called, “God our Savior.” Titus chapter 1, verses 3 and 4; Titus chapter 2; then again in Titus chapter 3, God is called God our Savior. First Timothy 4:10, “God is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.”
And when God came into the world in human form, Jesus Christ, He also is called our Savior. He came to seek and to save that which was lost. And one of the things that is very clear in Scripture is that God has a disposition in His nature to save sinners, to save them from sin, to save them from the consequence of sin, to save them from the power of sin, to save them even from the presence of sin. This is not foreign to the nature of God, this is true to His nature.
And I’ve told you in the past, there is no other deity in the pantheon of human and demonic religions, there is no other deity that has ever been invented who is by nature a savior of sinners. This is the utter uniqueness of Christianity, that our God, the true and living God, the only God, is a Savior of sinners by nature.
And we are first introduced to God as Savior in the five verses that I just read to you. This is the first time in the Bible that God is presented as a Savior. Right after the fall, early in the chapter, following immediately upon the curse that comes in the middle of the chapter, God is introduced to us as a Savior. Here, in that amazing fullness that God can put in a few words, we find Him being introduced as the Savior. We find here the introduction of His plan of redemption. We find here the indication that He is bringing salvation to sinful people.
Now, all of the components of salvation are present in the text that I read, and I admit, they’re are not immediately present at the first reading. You’re probably wondering where I see those things. Well, I’ll tell you in a moment. But everything that is essential is here. From man’s side, there are essentially two things: faith and hope - faith and hope. Those are the two things that are necessary with regard to man’s side of salvation. We have to believe in the Lord to be saved.
We have to believe His Word, put our trust in what He has said and what He has promised, and then, having believed, we live in hope for something we have not yet seen or received. And so it is required that we be characterized by faith and hope. That’s on our side. On God’s side, two things are necessary - atonement and security - atonement and security. God has to provide a suitable atonement to cover our sin and then He has to hold onto us to keep us saved until we get to glory. So from man’s side, faith and hope, from God’s side, atonement and security, those are the essential elements of salvation.
That is the necessary mix in the plan of God, and you find all four of them in this text. The salvation of sinners, their deliverance from sin, their deliverance from death and hell has always been by faith and in hope and always been through divine atonement and security. Now, not all the fullness of those great truths is here, but the first glimpse of those truths is here. This is the first glimpse of what is progressively revealed in Scripture and perfected in the coming of Christ and the New Testament.
Now, let’s go back to what we’ve look at and just do a brief review. First of all, salvation (or redemption) requires faith. And we see that in verse 20, “The man called his wife’s name Eve because she was the mother of all the living.” Well, at the time he called her Eve (which means life) she wasn’t the mother of anybody. That was an act of faith. Now, what is it that caused him to put his faith in God and believe that she would be the mother of all living when, in fact, God said, “The day you eat of that tree, you will die”? They had eaten and they had already begun to experience the physical as well as the moral effects of dying.
Why would he name his wife Eve as if she was to be the mother of all the living when, in fact, the curse was that if you eat, you die? Well, the answer comes in chapter 3, verse 15. God had made one great promise, and the promise was that Satan would be at enmity with the woman and that her seed would engage in battle against his seed, and her seed would triumph by bruising Satan on the head and Satan would only be able to bruise her seed on the heel.
God promised, then, that the woman would have a child and that out of the loins of that woman would come one who would defeat Satan, literally crush Satan’s head. That is the first promise of a Savior.
Now, by now, Adam and Eve know that Satan is a liar. Satan said, “You’ll not surely die, God is hiding things from you, He’s not a good God, He didn’t tell you the truth. I’m the good one, I’m telling you the truth,” et cetera, et cetera. They, for the time, believed Satan, were then catapulted into a cursed environment. They were cursed themselves. They now know Satan lied and God told the truth. And God made one promise, “I’ll give that woman a seed. Out of that woman will come One who will destroy Satan, who will crush his head, destroy the enemy, destroy the one who brought sin into the human realm and give back paradise to the world.”
When Adam named his wife Eve because she was the mother of all living, he was stating by that name that he believed God would fulfill His promise. As I said, at the time she wasn’t the mother of anybody. He was naming her Eve by faith. They had believed Satan and not God, but no longer. They now know Satan was a liar and God told the truth. Faith was planted in their hearts. They believed God and consequently he names her Eve, which means life, and she accepts the name.
Also, there is built into that penitence (or repentance). They were sorry that they had ever followed Satan. They were sorry they had ever turned to disobedience against God. They were sorry that they had ever fallen to that temptation. And there was remorse and there was certainly a deep sense of penitence. They both repented for their trust in Satan, who destroyed their paradise and destroyed their lives.
And so you see, then, in verse 20 by the name that Adam gives his to wife that he now believes God. Though the promise was death, he believes there will be life because God said there would be life out of her womb, life in the form of One who would come to destroy Satan. They now believe God. Salvation comes to those who believe God. Now, what did they have to believe? Anything and everything God said. God hadn’t said very much, He’d only given one promise, really, one great promise with regard to salvation and that is that Satan would be defeated, he would be destroyed, he would be destroyed by someone born of woman, and they believed that.
And as far as they could, then, they believed in the Savior who was to come. They believed that God would provide a savior, a deliverer, one who would overturn the fall, crush the serpent’s head, and bring back paradise. That was their part.
We also saw that the first element on God’s part is atonement. It doesn’t do any good for a man to believe unless God provides a means for salvation. Man’s faith and repentance mean absolutely nothing without God’s provision for sin. And so you come to verse 21 and you see here in a beautiful picture God’s provision, “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.”
Now, back in chapter 2, we found out at the end of the chapter, in verse 25, that they were naked and they weren’t ashamed. There wasn’t anything to be ashamed of. They didn’t have any evil thoughts, no wicked intentions or motives. There was no lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes. There was nothing evil at all and they were naked and it was perfectly fine. But after the fall, they were naked, chapter 3 verse 7, and they were ashamed and immediately they moved to cover themselves because they began to fill the impulses of evil and there was embarrassment.
Sin brought guilt. Sin brought shame. Sin brought all kinds of illicit feelings. And so they, feeling guilty, tried to cover themselves but that’s inadequate. No man can cover his own shame. No man can cover his own guilt, no woman can, either. And so God here in symbolic action says if you’re going to be covered, if your shame is going to be covered and your guilt is going to be covered, I’m going to have to do it. And here, I’m going to have to do it by killing something.
And who does He kill? Well, He kills an animal, obviously. Can’t take the skin of an animal without killing the animal. And here is the first time you have death in the Bible, first time in history. Up to this point, they were vegetarian. They only ate of the food of the ground. They didn’t eat any animals. There was no food chain in terms of animals eating other animals. The whole creation was vegetarian up to this point.
This is the first death there is and God is the first killer. And God takes one of the innocent animals - it doesn’t tell us what the nature of that animal was - God takes an animal guilty of actually nothing, an animal who could not violate the law of God at all, could not be disobedient, who in that sense is an innocent animal. And God picks the animal, kills the animal, takes the skin and covers Adam and Eve and introduces to us the nature of atonement.
Atonement is a covering for sinners provided by an innocent substitute. I’ll go beyond that, a covering for sinners provided by the death of an innocent substitute. And here we’re introduced, then, to the biblical concept of atonement, which is death of a substitute by which a sinner is covered. And that pictures Jesus Christ and introduces to us the great doctrine of substitutionary atonement, that God kills a substitute, and that substitute ultimately was His own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, whom God killed by His predeterminate counsel, even though it was by human agency.
It was the purpose and plan of God that He, the spotless Lamb without blemish, without spot, the sinless One, the innocent One, should die as a substitute for sinners to provide the covering that would hide forever their shame and their guilt. That’s why that great Isaiah 53 says, “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement for our peace with God was laid on Him and by His stripes, His death, we are healed.” That is the great chapter of Isaiah 53 on Jesus as the substitute for sinners.
This is atonement. Why? God requires death for sin. Sin brings about death. The wages of sin is death. The soul that sins, it shall die. But rather than kill Adam and Eve, which God had every right to do instantaneously, because God is by nature a savior, merciful, and gracious, He brings a substitute, slays the substitute and covers the sinner’s shame and guilt by the death of a substitute. His judgment, His justice, His wrath being satisfied by the death of the substitute.
Now, the animal didn’t do that. No animal did, and there were millions of animals slain from this first slaying up until the New Testament, up until the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. There were millions and millions of animals slain in the Jewish sacrificial ceremonies. None of them ever was the substitute. All of them pictured the one substitute who was Christ. So here is that picture. God clothed the naked, exposed, guilty, shamed sinner with a covering provided by the death of an innocent substitute.
And that is exactly what the death of Jesus on the cross means. He is innocent, He is spotless, He is without blemish, He is perfect, He is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and yet God takes Him and puts Him on the cross. He, who knew no sin (2 Corinthians 5:21) became sin for us and He becomes our substitute.
So the first element of salvation introduced to us is faith. Faith in the fact that God has provided a deliverer. God will provide one who will destroy the serpent, who will crush Satan, and who will overcome sin and bring back paradise. But that kind of faith is pointless, even if it’s penitent faith, unless God has provided an atonement, and He has.
Let’s go to a third element that’s here. Still looking at God’s part, salvation requires not only faith on man’s part, atonement on God’s part, but thirdly, on God’s part, salvation requires security. This is a very important point. Salvation requires security. Look at verse 22, “Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil. Now, lest he stretch out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat and live forever’” - we’ve got a problem here, folks, we’ve got a problem. A serious problem.
The Lord God said - again, divine initiative is taken to act graciously toward the sinner. God knows that now the man has the knowledge of good and evil experientially. Not in the way that God knows it. It says here, “The Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of us.’” Well, not in the sense of knowing good and evil outside of oneself, as God knows it. God knows evil outside of Himself. But in the sense of knowing good and evil inside. He knew what man did because he experienced it.
Man knows enough now to be in danger. He’s experienced good and he’s experienced evil. He doesn’t like evil. He doesn’t like it. And he would like to mitigate its circumstances, wouldn’t you? I mean, if you were Adam, you’d be immediately looking for some way to get out of the mess you’d gotten yourself into, right? You were feeling things you’d never felt before, you were dealing with attitudes and impulses and lusts and desires you’d never experienced before. You felt shame. You knew you were dying. You knew there was a moral, spiritual consequence as well as a physical consequence to what you had done, and you now understood the impact of that consequence.
And you would want to do anything you could to rectify that, to turn that around, to reverse that. You were headed toward death so the natural inclination, if you were headed toward death, would be to spin around and head toward the tree of life, right? You’d say to your wife, “You know, we’ve got to get back to that tree of life because if we can get to that tree of life, we won’t die. We just get back to that tree of life, we’ll be okay. You eat of that tree, you live forever. That’s a great - maybe that’s why it’s here, isn’t that great? We’ll just get back there to the tree of life.”
Now, they knew enough to realize that goodness was better than evil. And feeling the tremendous impact of evil, they would want to run back to what they might perceive as the source of mitigating that evil. They knew evil by doing it; God knows evil by seeing it. They knew it by doing it, and what the serpent had promised them had (to some extent) come true. It’s true, they did know good and evil. Made in God’s image but utterly unaware of evil, either in thought or experience. Now, they have evil all through them. It’s in every thought and every experience. It’s pervasive. And the image of God is defaced and the image of God is scarred and everything in the world is different. And they start down the path toward death and they would want to mitigate that.
So verse 22 says, “The man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil, and now lest he stretch out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat and live forever” - and the Hebrew never finishes the sentence. There’s an introductory clause but there’s no completing clause. It’s God just saying, “I know exactly what He’s going to do, he’s going to go right to the tree of life and he’s going to reach out and he’s going to say, ‘If I can just get that tree of life and eat it, I will live forever and I’ll mitigate all the consequences of my sin.’”
Can’t let him do that. Just can’t let him do that. Verse 23 says, “Therefore, the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden.” God sent him out. Now, what this indicates, first of all, is that Eden existed for some time after the fall. It was still there. I mean it took a while for all that perfection to feel the effects of the fall. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was still there, the tree of life was still there. All the rest of the paradise of God was still there. The rivers that flowed through it were still there. It existed for some time.
We don’t know how long it existed. It would have been destroyed ultimately at the time of the flood, but it could have died off long before that. We don’t have any way to know that. But at this particular time after the fall, the tree of life was still there. And if they ate of it, they would live forever. Now, remember this, the eternal life in the tree of life is not in the botany of the tree. It’s not in the DNA of the tree. It’s not something in the chemical of the fruit. It is simply by divine decree that the tree would give life. It’s simply because that’s what God said it would do and, therefore, that’s what it would do.
You say, “Well, isn’t that a good thing? I mean wouldn’t it be great? They could just run over there and they could just eat and they would - and it would neutralize the effects of death and they would live forever.” Problem: They would live forever - listen to this - as wicked, depraved, fallen sinners. You see that? That’s not good. That’s not good. It’s tough enough to get through your forties and fifties and into your sixties and you get pretty sick of it, but to live as a fallen, wretched, wicked sinner forever, that is not a blessing. God has something much better. You know what He has? Just go die and I’ll raise you in a new kind of life without sin, then you’ll live forever. Better? Much better.
You know, eternal life as a fallen sinner, that’s what hell is - no hope of deliverance from decay, no hope of deliverance from wretchedness, in a condition where the worm never dies, the fire is never quenched, where you’re weeping and wailing forever and gnashing your teeth because there is never any end to your wretched wickedness. And if Adam and Eve had remained in the garden, the temptation to overpower death by eating would have been overwhelming, and they would have gone straight to that tree thinking they could neutralize the effects of death by eating from the tree of life, and they would have sentenced themselves to the most gruesome kind of living.
Now, they knew what death was. They knew what death was because they saw it one time. When did they once see death? When God did what? Killed the animal - bloody, ugly, watched that animal die, never seen anything like that. And they knew what was in their future, and that would have compelled them all the more to pursue the tree of life. Oh, they would have done anything if they could have lived forever.
Now, God didn’t want them to do that, not in that condition. It would have been a just punishment. Yes, it would have been a just punishment if God had said, “Okay, have at it and sentence yourself to a hell of perpetual, eternal wretchedness.” But He wouldn’t do that. You know why? I believe He wouldn’t do that because they belonged to Him. It’s an affirmation that His atonement had been applied to them, even though Christ hadn’t, of course, yet died, but the effects of Christ’s atonement was applied to them upon the evidence of their faith in the promises of God.
And now they belong to God. God had applied the symbol of His covering in the skins that He made for them. And here is further evidence of their regeneration, further evidence of their justification, further evidence of their salvation, God prevents them from ever going to hell. He prevents them. “Better that you get out of the garden and never touch that tree and go ahead and die, and I will raise you again in a new kind of life, and that way you can live forever but not in wretchedness, in holy perfection. That’s better. Instead of eternal sorrow, you can experience eternal joy. You get the point?
So verse 23, “Therefore, the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden.” They would never have left voluntarily, anyway. I mean that was the paradise of the earth. And I think another thing - listen to this thought. They knew that the garden was the place of fellowship with God. I think they wanted fellowship with God. I think, you know, that lapse when they plunged into rebellious unbelief and turned their affections and their trust toward Satan, that was over. They saw the truth of Satan, and now they were prepared to believe in God.
They were God’s now, and they had repented. And they had put their trust in God, and God had covered them. And they knew that God was true and Satan was a liar and a destroyer. And they wanted fellowship with God and they desired God’s presence and they wanted to see God’s glory, and the garden was the place where they had always known that.
God says, “You’re not suitable for my presence. Out. I accept your repentance, I accept your faith. I cover you with my atonement, but you are not suitable for my presence. I’m going to protect you from eternal hell. I’m going to secure you by throwing you out of the garden because you would do such danger to yourself and because you are not suitable for the fullness of my presence.” And that’s how it is with us, isn’t it? You believed and you repented and the atonement of Jesus Christ, the substitute on your behalf, provides a covering that cloaks you and righteousness covers your guilt and shame.
But, folks, we are covered and we have repented and we have believed, but we aren’t suitable for His presence, are we? We aren’t suitable. I mean only once a year on the Day of Atonement, after a whole lot of ceremonial folderol, could one man, the high priest, walk into the Holy of Holies just long enough to go in there, sprinkle the blood and get out because there isn’t anybody alive in this world, even the redeemed, even the covered, the justified, the forgiven who belong to the Lord, those who have exercised penitent faith, there isn’t anybody who is suitable to enter into His presence.
And so He says, “Out. You can’t come into my holy presence and you can’t come into my garden because if you do, you’ll take the tree of life and you will damn yourself to a hell of wretchedness forever and ever and ever. This is a wonderful picture of security. We aren’t yet ready for His presence, but He prevents us from ever being damned. Do you understand that? We aren’t yet ready for entering into the Holy of Holies, we can’t go into His presence the way we are, but believe me, He will never let us fall.
“Now unto Him” - Jude 25 - “who is able to keep you from falling.” Psalm 97:10, “He preserves the souls of His saints.” “Great is His faithfulness,” Lamentations 3. Or if you like, Romans 8:31 - wow, that is the great passage on security, isn’t it? - “What shall separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus?” What? “Nothing.” That’s security. We are sealed unto the day of promise. John in his gospel (chapter 10, verses 28 and 29) records the promise of Jesus that every believer belongs to Christ and he is in the hand of Christ, kept by God, and “no one is able to pluck them out of my hand because my Father,” of course, “is greater than all.”
And one of the great doctrines of the Scripture is the doctrine of security. I mean look at it very simply, folks. We don’t have what it takes to save ourselves, and we certainly don’t have what it takes to keep ourselves saved. Do you understand that? The only way you will ever get to heaven is if God in grace saves you and God in grace keeps you. You would jettison your faith, you would plunge into sin, you would fall victim to Satan if it were left to you. He guards His own. John 17, He prays to the Father and He says, “I’ve kept those you’ve given me.”
In John 6, He says, “All that the Father gives to me will come to me, and all that come to me, I will receive and of all that I have received” - He says - “I will lose none of them, but I’ll raise them up on the last day.” That’s the great doctrine of security. There it is right there - right there.
So what does the sinner need? The sinner needs atonement to satisfy divine justice and cover his sin and the sinner needs security. We not only have to have someone who paid the price of our sin, but we have to have someone who keeps us from what would otherwise destroy us because in ourselves, we are utterly incapable of protecting ourselves.
You know, the picture of Adam and Eve in the garden in perfection and they couldn’t protect themselves. There they were, innocent, sinless, and they couldn’t stay that way. How could we who are saved and covered and sinful hope to protect ourselves from a fall were it not that we were held by the power of God?
There’s one last essential in the gospel that’s given here. I think this is just great truth. On our part, salvation calls for faith which is a repentant faith and hope - hope. Salvation requires hope. Look at verse 23 again. He sends them out of the garden to cultivate the ground from which they were taken, or he was taken. To cultivate the ground.
This is an echo of, back in verse 19, when He said to the man, “You’re going to go out and you’re going to toil in the ground” - verse 17 - “all the days of your life, you’re going to have to work hard to eke out your food and fight thorns and thistles, and you’re going to work” - verse 19 - “by the sweat of your face; you’re going to eat bread until you return to the ground because from it you were taken, for you were dust, and to dust you shall return.”
So He says, “I’m sorry, that’s all for paradise. You’re out of here for your own good because I have to secure you by keeping you away from what would damn you.” And the Lord will do that. He protects us from what would destroy us, that’s how He secures us. And He also throws man out into a very difficult life. He has to toil on cursed ground. And we could also include here the woman whose pain in childbearing is greatly increased. We talked about all that women suffer in the world along with all that men suffer.
Women suffering in the whole process of conception and birth and the rearing of children and men suffering in the whole process of trying to provide a living and sustain the life of their families. So He throws them out and He says, “Sorry, you’re going to have to live in sorrow, you’re going to have sorrow in childbirth, you’re going to have sorrow in tilling the ground. You’re going to have to have sickness. You’re going to have to have suffering. You’re going to sweat. And in the end, you’re just going to die and turn back to a pile of dirt. You’re going to have to live your whole life feeling the weight of sin, your whole life bearing this pain and sorrow and suffering.”
And by the way, you say, “Yeah, it’s tough - it’s tough.” Well, you’re going to live 60, 70 years. Adam lived 930 - 930. I mean when he was 360, he was a teenager. He was in the peak of his energy. When he was 700, he was really still rolling, working. How would you like to work - maybe he retired at 918, who knows? I mean that’s a lot of sweat and a lot of toil because if you live that long, simple, you have to eat for that long. And everybody around you has to eat for that long.
And you can have lots of babies in 930 years who all have to eat, too. And you know what? They have babies in 930 years. You talk about being a grandfather, how about being a great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather? And when you have a family reunion - I mean this is a painful thing for this man. I mean the consequences of sin are mitigated by a short life, aren’t they? I don’t know about you, I wouldn’t want to live 930 years in this world.
You say, “Oh, think of all the joy.” Think of all the sorrow. Think of all - I mean it’s enough to have a few kids and try to cope with that and all their problems, and then they have kids and their problems. And in a world like that world before all of the things that we have today, it’s unimaginable how you would accumulate suffering and sorrow, to say nothing of the strain on you economically. Mind boggling. Can’t imagine what it must have been like when Adam was about 600, people started coming to him for a few bucks - this is a terrible thing.
I mean he probably was willing to die at any point along the way. By the time he hit 600, he would have done anything to get back in there and get to that tree of life if he thought it could mitigate the suffering. That’s why God wouldn’t let him do that because all it would do is perpetuate his sorrow and his sinfulness. And so he had to wait to die, and death was a long, long way off, and so he was suffering and suffering through all of these elements of life.
And guess what would well up in his heart? One great attitude: hope. Right? Hope. “Oh, Lord, when will it be over? When will the sorrow end? When will the suffering end? When will paradise be restored? I have seen the effects of sin in my life, and I have seen the effects of sin in Eve’s life, and I have seen the effects of sin in our children’s lives. I have seen my son kill his brother, and I have seen reprobates coming into this world in rapid-fire succession through all these hundreds of years. When, oh, Lord, when does it end?”
Paradise regained then became a hope for him as it is for us. The Bible says we are saved in hope. We don’t have yet what we have been promised, do we? I haven’t had all my problems eliminated. Neither have you. But we’re hoping. We live in hope.
Sometimes people in the world look at us and they say, “You people must be crazy, you make all these sacrifices, you follow Jesus, you say no to this and no to that and no to the other thing. And all the things that we like to do that are fun and et cetera, you don’t do them. And you do this for some pie in the sky. You do this for something down the road. And then when you get ill and something happens to your kids and somebody dies or you get cancer or heart disease,” they say, “it’s ridiculous. Where is God, you know? How can you live like this?
Well, we live like this because we believe the Word of God, right? And so did Adam. You know, the worse it gets, the more you hope. I can imagine by the time he was over 800, his hope was very strong. “Lord, please, please, I’ve seen enough of murder, I’ve seen enough of rebellion, I’ve seen enough iniquity, I’ve seen it, I’ve seen it, I’ve seen enough trouble. Lord, please.”
And we know the world was getting increasingly more wicked, wasn’t it? Because by the time you get to Genesis 6, what does God have to do? Drown the whole world. And he was watching this and it inspired hope in his heart, hope in his heart.
I think that’s what God wanted and that’s why verse 24 says 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.” For however long that garden remained, the temptation would have been greater and greater in the mind of man to run back in there and try to sort of reverse the power of death by eating of the tree of life. That would have been a witless act could he have done it because all it would have done, as I said, was make him permanently wicked. So the Lord stationed cherubim there.
Wherever you see cherubim - this is the first time angels are mentioned in the Bible, a lot of firsts in this section. The first time angels are mentioned. But wherever you see cherubim, they’re always associated with the throne of God. They’re always around the throne of God, Ezekiel 1, Ezekiel 10, 2 Samuel 6:2, “The Lord of hosts dwells between the cherubim.” That’s why the cherubim were put on the Ark of the Covenant, a symbol of His presence. So they are the angels that protect the presence of God, they protect the glory of God, the throne of God.
And all that Adam could do was hope for the day when he could go into the throne of God, when he could go back into the presence of God, when he could go back to paradise and commune with God as he once did. Second Kings 19:15 says, “The Lord God of Israel dwells between the cherubim.” He wanted to go back to the presence of God and he hoped and he hoped and he hoped. When would that day come? When could we go in to the presence of God? The angels, these angels, cherubim, are guarding that Holy of Holies, they’re guarding that place of God’s presence. That’s the place that Adam and Eve wanted so much to be.
They couldn’t go there. They had to sweat and suffer and struggle and live with hope that someday - they couldn’t do it in their present condition but someday they would be able to enter in to God’s presence again.
It was a double protection, kind of interesting, in verse 24. The flaming sword also was there, turning every direction. In other words, no matter where you would go, the flaming sword was there. There was absolutely no access to God’s personal presence. You can’t enter into His presence, the fullness of His presence. Oh, of course, His Spirit is there, and we’ll see that later, and God is appearing from time to time to man. We see that in the early part of the Old Testament as well as later on, ultimately in Christ.
But you can’t get in to His presence because in this case, going back into the garden - end of verse 24 - would mean they would go right to the tree of life, and that would destroy them forever. He protects them. This is security, and He makes them live in hope. Even though they were believers, even though they had repented, even though they had been forgiven, even though they had been covered, they were still sentenced to live a life of suffering and sorrow and pain and death, so they had to live in hope.
That’s the way we live, isn’t it? We hope for heaven. We hope for the fullness of the presence of God. God sent them out and said, “I want you to feel the curse. I want you to feel the blast of sin. And I want you to feel that so hard that you begin to have a deep longing for heaven.”
The Keil & Delitzsch, the Hebrew commentator, says, “Man must till the ground in which he will, after a short span, decay. In the soil which he turns over with his spade, he has before his very eyes his origin and his future. You will die, you will suffer and you will die. But that suffering and that death which will free him to enter the presence of God becomes the source of his hope.”
Why does God want us to live in hope? Because 1 John 3:3 says, “Hope purifies. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” This purifying hope is our anchor. In the words of Hebrews 6:19, “This hope is an anchor for the soul.”
You know, I look forward to heaven, don’t you? And the longer you’re in this life and the longer you suffer and the longer you long for an unruffled life, a peaceful, tranquil, joyous life, the longer you desire communion with God, uninterrupted and holy and perfect. The longer you live and desire that, the more heaven appeals to you. You can say with the psalmist in Psalm 39:7, “My hope is in you.” Romans 4 says about Abraham that he hoped - he hoped. “Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord His God,” says Psalm 146:5.
So here you have it in the end of this chapter, the essential mix of the elements of salvation. From man’s side, faith is the point of entry, and hope sustains him. From God’s side, atonement is the point of entry, and security sustains him. We believe and we hope and God atones and God secures us. And so the most tragic chapter in all the Scripture ends with a glorious introduction to the good news of salvation.
Sinners, God has provided atonement. He will cover your sin and keep you secure until you reach eternal glory. It is available to you who believe and persevere in hope. That’s what Adam had to do for a long time, and then one day hope became reality. He left that human flesh and entered in a perfect regenerated spirit into the presence of the creator, Eve the same, where there was awaiting them the communion they had so long wished for and the end of all sin. And so it is for us as well.
Father, this chapter is monumental in so many ways. Would that we had the time to even go more deeply into its profound depths. But what a glorious, glorious way to tell us what you’re like, then to see how rapidly you acted in grace toward cursed sinners. Oh, what a Savior is mine. We are utterly unworthy of such mercy and grace as has been bestowed upon us from Adam and Eve on.
We are no better than they. We are under the same curse but for us has been provided the atonement and the security, and to us has been granted (as to them) the faith and hope that takes hold of that atonement. Faith for the atonement and persevering hope alongside your securing power, and in this we find our salvation. And we thank you and we praise you. Amen.
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