I started another year-long Bible reading plan today. Yes! I’ll blog about it at times as I read. It keeps me meditating on it and maybe we can get a dialogue going. I certainly don’t have all the answers. I do have questions, though.
Most people know the Genesis account. God creates the world, populates it and creates human beings. He tells them they can eat of any tree in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:16-17). Inevitably, it seems, the serpent/devil encourages them to taste it anyway. “Try it, you’ll like it!” Eve nabs a piece. She takes a bite and passes it to Adam, who does likewise. God knows, calls them on their disobedience, and curses the three individually. The serpent will crawl on his belly and have hostile relations with all souls. The woman will try to control her husband (!) and have pain in childbirth (boo!). The man will fight thorns and thistles while growing crops and will only succeed through much effort. Also, the concept of mortality enters the picture: “By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3:19). God banishes His very first image-bearers from Eden. Before they go, he clothes them with animal skins. Which means, of course, animals died. Welcome to the not-so-glamorous world of sporting furry fashion. Now you’re up to speed.
This is where it gets interesting to me, at least this time.
Then the Lord God said, “Look, the human beings have become like us, knowing both good and evil. What if they reach out, take fruit from the tree of life, and eat it? Then they will live forever!” So the Lord God banished them from the Garden of Eden, and he sent Adam out to cultivate the ground from which he had been made. After sending them out, the Lord God stationed mighty cherubim to the east of the Garden of Eden. And he placed a flaming sword that flashed back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life. – Genesis 3:22-24
So the bigger threat, it seems, was the tree of life. They didn’t eat from that tree. In fact, God didn’t tell them they couldn’t eat from the tree of life. Why is it that we always want what we can’t/shouldn’t have? I suppose it starts right here. They could have lived forever, never tasting the bitter gall of death. But Adam and Eve let the serpent trick them.
After their banishment, God placed cherubim to guard the east entrance to the garden. “None shall pass!” He put a flaming sword in front of the tree of life. Guess guarding the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would be pointless now. This shows that Adam and Eve could still see the heavenly cast of characters – God and angels. The cherubim would scare them away, as well as any future descendants.
But it begs the question: Did Adam and Eve ever try to reenter the Garden of Eden? Did they miss the sweet companionship of God, walking together in the cool of the day? Is that why God set up the blockade? Were there other entrances? The text here is almost wistful. I can picture the Lord in tears as he sends away his precious children from the paradise he made expressly for them. Did the first family wander so long they completely forgot its location? I wonder.