The Lord Sent Him Out
“Therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken” (Gen. 3:23).
- Genesis 3:22-24
Genesis 3 is clear that with Adam’s sin, dreadful consequences were introduced into the human condition. Spiritually speaking, all human beings now find themselves in a war against evil, and at the same time, we are eager to hide from the only One who can ensure the victory (vv. 10, 15). On a physical level, labor is now frustrating and toilsome, for life will not continue without strenuous effort and suffering (vv. 16–19). Interpersonal relations are also disharmonious; the sexes struggle to live according to their assigned roles, and all people experience estrangement from one another (vv. 12, 16).
In addition to these troubles, death is now the lot for those in Adam. Though Adam did not die physically right away (5:5), we infer from today’s passage what is elsewhere affirmed explicitly: when Adam sinned, mankind immediately died spiritually (Eph. 2:1–3).
Having judged our first parents, the Lord sends them out of the garden of Eden in order that they might not live forever (Gen. 3:22–23). Moreover, Moses writes that God “drove” them out (v. 24), a term used often in the Pentateuch for driving the Canaanites out of the Promised Land (for example, Ex. 23:28–31). Just as Israel brought death to these inhabitants when they invaded Canaan, so too does God bring death to Adam and Eve by sending them out of Eden.
That this is a spiritual death culminating finally in the cessation of physical life is clear once we see how Moses associates Eden with the presence of God. Cherubim guarded the place where the Lord manifested Himself in the tabernacle and the temple. They were embroidered on the veil that prevented ordinary Israelites from going into the holy place (26:31–33; 36:35) and kept watch over the ark of the covenant (37:1–9). When God places cherubim at the east entrance of the garden (Gen. 3:24), He reveals that sinners cannot have free access into His presence. Arming His guardians with a flaming sword shows us the Lord will actively work to keep those in Adam away from His dwelling place; therefore, we cannot save ourselves. Only God Himself can provide the means — a Savior— to allow for our reentry into His presence (Lev. 16; Mark 15:33–39).
Even though Christians have been set free from the bondage to sin and death (Eph. 2:1–7), we still struggle with the desire to flee God’s presence, the feeling that our labor is futile, and contentiousness in our relationships. Until sin’s presence is removed from us completely in our glorification, this struggle will continue. But as believers we are to bring all these areas under the lordship of Christ today. Do so in your life by offering peace to a belligerent individual.
Passages for Further Study
- 1 Kings 6:1–8:11
- Ps. 51:10–12 1
- Cor. 13:12
- Heb. 9
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