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Gen. 3:20-24 - New Beginnings – Part 1
Though where we ended off in Genesis 3:19 it may have seemed as if we ended on a sour note, with the entrance of Satan, sin, and getting the boot from the garden of Eden, but I guarantee you, that when our Lord is involved with something, there is always GOOD NEWS to be had. And, as you will see, there is a newness and a new beginning which is even greater than the last!
Previously, in Gen. 3:7, we saw that: Adam and Eve “sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.” That was their attempt to solve the immediate consequences of their sin. Now, God provided special clothing for them instead of their fig leaves. He used “garments of skin” and clothed them. It was not covered by any of their own works nor any of their own merits. The innocent died that the wicked might be covered. Animals that did not sin died, that man, who did sin, could have his sin covered; and so, it is that Jesus came to die and was counted a sinner and bore our sins in His own body on the tree, so that all of us might have the blessed covering of our sins!
Some commentators believe that this verse looks forward to animal sacrifices as God’s special way of dealing with our sin. But, at best, this is only implied. The important thing here is garments rather than skins. God provides a covering for the naked couple, but it is a divine covering, not a human covering. I think it’s important here to realize that God covers the couple BEFORE he kicks them out of the garden. Here is a perfect picture of GRACE before LAW!
So, with the sentence given, God does for the couple what they cannot do for themselves. They cannot deal with their shame. But God can, will, and does. God’s provision of clothes is a way of expressing the fact that, when we believe, He clothes us with garments of salvation.
I think it’s worth noting that the clothing required the death of a substitute. By the death of a sacrifice clothing came from that sacrifice. By the death of God’s Son, we come to be clothed with the righteousness of God’s Son! 2 Cor. 5:21 - For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God!”
Now Adam and Eve can say: “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness.” (Isa. 61:10).
This is also a great picture to show us that sinful man cannot stand before God in his own covering. We need a covering from God - a covering that required sacrifice and death, a covering not provided by man but by God. Not that this verse implies that, as I stated at the beginning, but it is a picture to keep in mind.
In 3:22-24, 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.”
The human race, who had been created like God (1:26), sought to “be like God” (3:5-7), but found themselves, after the fall, no longer with God. Their happiness does not consist of being like God so much as it does their being with God. The goal must always be, to be “with God.” There is nothing better than enjoying the presence of God. Ps. 16:11 - “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
In verse 22, the phrase “like one of us” probably means like heavenly beings (God and the angels; cf. 1:26). Cherubim, in the Old Testament, surround and symbolize God’s presence. They are similar to God’s bodyguards. Moses pictured them here defending the Tree of Life with a flaming sword.
As an interesting side note, the Cherubim also guarded the Ark of the Covenant. The Laws contained in the Ark were a source of life for the Israelites. The golden lampstand in the tabernacle represented a tree of life and the presence of God. The cherubim at Eden kept man from eating the fruit from the Tree of Life.
This was critical because the Tree of Life perpetuated physical life in the perfect environment of the garden. When man acquired a sin nature in the physical body, he started the process of physical deterioration, which would lead ultimately to physical death. If he were to eat of the Tree of Life at this time, it would cause him to live forever with the presence of the sin nature.
And even though man is now back in relationship with God, through faith in the promise of a coming savior, perpetuation of physical life with the sin nature, would perpetuate soul distortion and deny access to the fullness of fellowship with God. Therefore, God forbade man to eat from the Tree of Life and removed him from its presence.
The cherubim also guarded man from the Tree of Life to remind him that his legacy was death, caused by sin. But let us not forget that, once again, we will have access to the Tree of Life and Eden will be restored!!!! This is the GREAT news! Rev. 22:1-5 - “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month.
And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.”
Continued next week.