September 3, 2013

Commentary on the Book of Genesis

By: Tom Lowe


PART: I A GENERAL HISTORY FROM ADAM TO ABRAHAM—Gen. 1:1-11:9.


Topic #B: The Primeval State of Man and His Fall. Gen. 2.8-3.24

                 



Lesson I.B.6: The Pair Expelled from the Garden.

         


Gen. 3.22-24 (KJV)


22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: 

23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. 

24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned everyway, to keep the way of the tree of life.



Commentary


22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: 


And the LORD God said, 

“And the Lord God said,” was not said to the ministering angels, but within himself, or to the other two Divine Persons.



Behold, 

The LORD God has something to say and He wants our attention; “behold” means observe, watch, see, consider, and pay attention. The pair has already shown their weakness when confronted by temptation; a lack of will-power and a desire to “do their own thing,” therefore the LORD God will act to insure they cannot eat from the tree of life:

1. For fear that by eating of the fruit he would recover that immortal life which he no longer possessed (Although it is certain that man would not have been able, even by devouring the whole tree, to enjoy life against the will of God.).

2. For fear that the first pair, through the fruit would confer upon themselves the attribute of eternal life, which would not be the result of salvation, but through the sin of disobedience. 

3. For fear that man could conceive the idea that immortality might still be secured by eating from the tree, instead of trusting in the promised seed, and under this false impression attempt to take its fruit, which, in his case, would have been equivalent to an attempt to justify himself by works instead of faith.

4. For fear that he would endeavor to partake of the symbol of immortality, which he could not do again until his sin was atoned for and he was purified: “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” (Revelation 22:14).  



the man is become as one of us, 

It is not likely that Jehovah refers here to the words of the tempter: “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3.5). Neither is He saying “the man is become” like the angels, but rather like the Divine Persons: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth” (Genesis 1:26). “In our image, after our likeness” was a unique and distinctive characteristic of man. And in what did this image of God consist? Not in the erect form or features of man, not in his intellect, for the devil and his angels are, in this respect, far superior to man; not in his immortality, since he does not have, as God has, a past as well as a future eternity of being; but in the moral nature of his soul, commonly called original righteousness: “Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions” (Ecclesiastes 7:29 ).  God made man upright; Adam was upright in all respects. No one could find a fault in him; he was devoted to God. Man, as he came out of God’s hands, was (as we may say) a little picture of his Maker, who is good and upright. But he was marred, and in effect unmade, by his own foolishness and badness. Man, instead of resting in what God had provided for him, was seeking to better himself, like the prodigal that left his father’s house to seek his fortune. Instead of being for God’s institutions, he was for his own inventions. The law of his Creator would not hold him; he would follow his own desires and inclinations. 



to know good and evil: 

“To know good and evil” implies an acquaintance with good and evil which did not belong to him while in the state of innocence. The language seems to hint that a one-sided acquaintance with good and evil, such as that possessed by the first pair in the garden and the unfallen angels in heaven, is not as complete a knowledge of the inherent beauty of the one and essential wickedness of the other as that which is acquired by beings who pass through the experience of a fall, and that the only way in which a finite being can even come close to such a comprehensive knowledge of evil as the Deity possesses without personal contact—He can see it as it rests everlastingly spread out before his infinite mind—is by going down into it and learning what it is through personal experience. 



“The man is become as one of us, to know good and evil” has been interpreted in several ways by some well-known commentators:

1. It is generally understood to be an irony or sarcasm aimed at man's deception by Satan, who promised man that he would be like God if he ate the fruit from the forbidden tree, and Adam and Eve believed him and expected to be like gods, knowing good and evil. It is as if God is saying “Behold the man, see how much like a god he looks, with his coat of skin upon his back, filled with shame and confusion for his foolishness, and miserable from a sense of what he had lost, and in a view of what he was sentenced to.” And yet, we must understand that God does not rejoice over man's misery, and insult him while he is so miserable, but His words are meant to convince him of his foolishness, humble him, bring him to a more open repentance for his willful disobedience, and to give credit to the devil for his part in the affair.

2. Another opinion, which I also embrace, is that God was serious when he said this, since this was after man was brought to an awareness of the evil he committed, and had repented for it, and had had the promised seed revealed to him as a Savior; and, as a symbol of justification and salvation by Him, he was clothed with garments provided by God himself: therefore the words are to be considered:

a. as a declaration of his present state and condition, in Christ, by whose righteousness he was made righteous, even though he had lost his own due to his sin; to whose image he was conformed; and was now restored to friendship and peace with God, favored with his gracious presence, and having faith and hope of being with him for eternity. Now the eyes of his understanding were enlightened by the Spirit and grace of God, to know the good things which God had provided for him in Christ, and in the covenant of grace, which was a better covenant than that under which he was made, and which he had broken; and to know the evil nature of sin, and the atonement for it, by the death and sacrifice of the promised seed.

b. as a declaration of man's past state and condition, and may be rendered, "behold, the man was as one of us,” that is, as one of the Persons in the Deity, like the Son of God, after whose image, and in whose likeness, he was made; both as to his body, that being formed according to the idea of the body of Christ in the divine mind, and which was not begotten, but made out of the virgin earth; and as to his soul, which was created in righteousness and holiness, in wisdom and knowledge, and was like Him in the rule and power he had over all the creatures: and besides, he was in many things a type of Christ, a figure of Him that was to come; especially in his being a federal head to his posterity, and in his offices of prophet, priest, and King; and being created in knowledge, after the image of Him that created him, and having the law of God inscribed on his heart. He knew what was good and what should be done, and what was evil and to be avoided. But now he was in a different condition, in different circumstances, had lost the image of God, and friendship with Him, and his rule over the creatures; and had ruined himself, and all his posterity, and was become unholy and unwise; because being tempted by Satan to eat of the forbidden fruit, under an expectation of increasing his knowledge, he had lost to a great degree what he had. 



and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, 

“And now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life,” as he has of the tree of knowledge of good and evil; which some believe to be just more sarcasm.  And others believe that it was an expression of pity for him; that he might not live a long life of sorrow, which is the horrible fate of having to live forever as sinners. Still others are of the opinion that it refers to punishment; that having sinned he was justly deprived of the sacrament and symbol of life. And there are those who say it was said to prevent a fresh sin. And finally, it could have meant to show that there could be no life without reparation for the sin committed, and there is no other way to recompense for sin than by Christ, the antitype of the “tree of life.” 



 and eat, and live for ever: 

“And eat, and live for ever” does not mean that by eating of the fruit of the “tree of life,” his natural life would be continued forever, contrary to the sentence of death pronounced upon him; nor does it mean that he could elude that sentence and live forever. He was hindered from eating the fruit that grew on the tree of life for fear that by so doing he would live forever, in spite of being doomed to die; and very probably the devil had suggested that very idea to him—that should he be threatened with death, which he made into a question, yet by eating of the tree of life, which stood nearby the other, he would keep himself from dying. Therefore, to prevent him, and to cut off all hopes of securing eternal life for himself in this way, it is suggested that something must be done, which is the subject of the following verse—let us send him out of the garden. 



23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.


Now the expression, "in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt die," receives its simple application. It is a conditional sentence, pronounced as a warning to the responsible party. On the very day of transgression it becomes legally binding against him, and the first step toward its execution is taken. This step is his exclusion from the tree of life. This is achieved by sending man out of the garden into the regular world, to till the soil from which he was taken.



Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, 

“Therefore,” or rather, “and,” “the Lord God sent” (or cast, which conveys the ideas of force and displeasure.) “him forth from the Garden of Eden.” The Lord gave him orders to depart immediately; sent or put him away as a man does his wife, when he divorces her; or as a prince banishes a rebellious subject: however, he did not send him to hell at once, as he did the apostate angels, but “to till the ground from whence he was taken.”



There is no way to know how long Adam was in the garden before he was expelled from it, but there are some who have concluded that Adam fell the same day in which he was created; but though he might have stayed longer, and the word is sometimes used for a longer continuance; yet by the account in Genesis it looks as if he continued in his state of honor for a short time.



Some suppose that his removal from the tree of life was an act of mercy, to prevent a second temptation. Before this, he imagined that he could increase his wisdom by eating of the tree of knowledge, and Satan would be likely to tempt him to attempt to elude the sentence of death, by eating of the tree of life. Others imagine that the words are spoken sarcastically, and that the Most High intended by poking fun at him, to scold the poor culprit for his crime, because he broke the Divine command in the expectation of being like God, to know good from evil; and now that he had lost all the good that God had intended for him, and got nothing but evil in its place, God taunts him for the total miscarriage of His project. But God is always consistent with himself; and surely His infinite pity prohibited the use of either sarcasm or irony, in speaking of so dreadful a catastrophe, that was in the end to cause the agony and bloody sweat, the cross and passion, the death and burial, of “Him in whom dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9).



In Genesis 1:26, 27, we have seen man in the perfection of his nature, the dignity of his office, content and happy. Here we find the same creature, but stripped of his glories and happiness, so that the word man no longer conveys the same ideas it did before. Thus a simple word, still in use among us in its original sense, conveyed to the minds of our ancestors the two following details:

1. The human being in his state of excellence is capable of knowing, loving, and glorifying his Maker.

2. The human being in his fallen state is capable of committing all kinds of wickedness. 



to till the ground from whence he was taken.

“To till the ground” (that is, the soil outside of paradise, which had been cursed for his sake) “whence he was taken”—“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken : for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Gen. 3.19).



“To till the ground, from whence he was taken” means either:

1. the earth in general, out of which he was made, and to which he must return, and during the interval between must labor hard, in digging and ploughing, in planting and sowing, that so he might obtain his livelihood; or 

2. that particular spot where he was formed, which is supposed from all that came before to have been outside the Garden of Eden, though it was probably very near it: some say it was a field near Damascus; and so some Jewish writers say “the gate of paradise was near Mount Moriah, and there Adam dwelt after he was cast out.” 



24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned everyway, to keep the way of the tree of life.


So he drove out the man; 

“So” (and) “he drove out the man” (along with his guilty partner). It appears he was unwilling to go out upon the orders given him, therefore some degree of force was used, or power exerted, in some way or other, to make him leave.



and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, 

“And he placed” (literally, caused to dwell) “at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubim.” “Cherubim” have been supposed to be similar to:

1. Griffins, like those of Persian and Egyptian mythology, which protected gold-producing countries like Eden. 

2. Divine steeds: “And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind” (Psalm 18.11). 

3. Beings who come near to God and minister to him.

4. In the Bible they are described as living creatures (Ezekiel 1:5; Revelation 4:6) in the form of a man (Ezekiel 1:5), with four (Ezekiel 1:8; 2:23; 10:7, 8-21) or with six wings (Revelation 4:8), and full of eyes (Ezekiel 1:18; Ezekiel 10:12; Revelation 4:8); each having four faces, for example, of a man, of a lion, of an ox, of an eagle (Ezekiel 1:10;Ezekiel 10:16). Representations of these were by Divine directions placed upon the Arc of the Covenant (Exodus 25:17) and curtains of the tabernacle (Exodus 26:1, 31;Exodus 36:8, 35), and afterwards engraved upon the walls and doors of the temple (1 Kings 6:29, 32, 35). In the Book of Revelation they are depicted as standing in the immediate neighborhood of the throne of God (Rev. 4:6; 5:6; 7:11), and as taking part in the acts of adoration and praise in which the heavenly hosts engage, and that on the express ground of their redemption (Rev. 5:8, 9). The description that comes the closest to describing Cherubim says that these mysterious creatures were symbolic not of the fullness of the Deity, nor of the sum of earthly life, nor of the angelic nature, nor of the Divine manhood of Jesus Christ, but of redeemed and glorified humanity. Combining with the intelligence of human nature the highest qualities of the animal world, as exhibited in the lion, the ox, and the eagle, they were emblematic of creature life in its most absolutely perfect form. As such they were caused to dwell at the gate of Eden to indicate that only when perfected and purified could fallen human nature return to paradise. Meantime man was utterly unfit to dwell within its fair abode.  

5. The Cherubim are definitely creatures of a higher world, which are represented as surrounding the throne of God, both in the visions of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:22, Genesis 10:1) and the Revelation of John (John 4:6); not, however, as throne-bearers or throne-holders, or as forming the chariot of the throne, but as occupying the highest place as living beings in the realm of spirits, standing by the side of God as the heavenly King when He comes to judgment, and proclaiming the majesty of the Judge of the world. In this character God stationed them on the eastern side of paradise, where no doubt was its only entrance, not "to inhabit the garden as the temporary representatives of man," but "to keep the way of the tree of life," that is, to render it impossible for man to return to paradise, and eat of the tree of life. 



and a flaming sword which turned everyway, 

“And a flaming sword, which turned every way” literally means “the flame of a sword turning itself”; not brandished by the cherubim, but existing separately, and flashing out from among them; an emblem of the Divine glory in its attitude towards sin.  Apparently it was in constant motion, cutting here and there, representing the devouring fire of the divine wrath, and showing the cherubim to be ministers of judgment. 



to keep the way of the tree of life.

“To keep” means to watch over or guard (Genesis 2:15), “the way of the tree of life.” “To keep the…tree of life” might imply that all access to it was to be prohibited; but “to keep the way” signifies “to keep the way” open as well as to keep it shut. With the expulsion of man from the Garden of Eden, paradise itself vanished from the earth. God did not withdraw from the tree of life its supernatural power, nor did He destroy the garden before their eyes, but simply prevented their return, to show that it should be preserved until the time of the end, when sin would be rooted out by the judgment, and death abolished by the Conqueror of the serpent—“The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:26)—and when upon the new earth “the tree of life” would flourish again in the heavenly Jerusalem, and bear fruit for the redeemed (See Revelation 20:1-15 and 21). So, God does not annihilate the garden or its tree of life. Annihilation does not seem to be His way. On the other hand, he sets his cherubim “to keep the way of the tree of life.” This paradise, then, and its tree of life are in safe keeping. They are in reserve for those who will become entitled to them after an intervening period of trial and victory, and they will reappear in all their pristine glory and in all their beauty to the high-born and new-born perfection of man. The sinful nature which has been infused into man will fall off, at least from the chosen number who take refuge in the mercy of God; and in all the freshness and freedom of a heaven-born nature. 



By  keeping the pair from ever having contact with the tree of life our God is showing them and us, that life and salvation are not to be had, unless the law and justice of God are satisfied; and that they were not to be expected on the foot of men's works, but only through Christ, the way, the truth, and the life; that no happiness should be expected to come from the covenant of works, nothing but wrath and vengeance; and that there must be another way opened, or there could be no enjoyment of the heavenly paradise.



It is clear that Adam never ate from the tree of life. Had he continued in fellowship with God by obedience to the command of God, he might have eaten of it, because he was created for eternal life. 



This marks the beginning of The Second Dispensation: Conscience. By disobedience man came to a personal and experimental knowledge of good and evil—of good as obedience, of evil as disobedience to the known will of God. Through that knowledge conscience awoke. Expelled from Eden and placed under the second, or ADAMIC COVENANT, man was responsible to do all known good, to abstain from all known evil, and to approach God through sacrifice. The result of this second testing of man is stated in Gen 6:5—“And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually”—and this dispensation ended in the judgment of the Flood. Apparently "the east of the garden" (Gen 3:24), where the cherubim and the flame stood guard, remained the place of worship through this second dispensation. 

 

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