Do you recall what happens after Adam and Eve eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?
The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.Genesis 3: 21-24
As a child this made God seem like an angry parent, kicking the kids out of the house, and confessing fear that if they were allowed to stay and eat from the tree of life they might try to challenge his divine sovereignty.. Those motives emerge from a very different character than the God I’ve come to know and the God revealed throughout Scripture.
So was this a transcription error or is there something more than meets the eye?
The line before it hints at the truth: the Lord making garments of animal skin, the first sin sacrifice, to provide protection for Adam and Eve from the evil world they’d chosen to enter.
As I have come to know God during my life and through His Word, it’s gotten easier to reconcile situations like this one with the attributes of God. I know God is holy and just, and yet he loves us, even in our rebellion. I know there in the garden he promised to make a way for us to return to right relationship with him. (Genesis 3:15)
Look at this story again through this lens and suddenly something new is revealed. God did not remove Adam and Eve from the tree of life to punish them, but to protect them. He says, now that they know good and evil, they can’t be allowed to also live forever.
2020 is drawing this point in relief in so many ways. The power struggles, violence and strife ripping through our world create so much enmity and stress. Our work is labor. Our childbirth and parenting are filled with pain. The older I get, the more my eyes and heart yearn for home. A longing has taken root in my soul to leave this world behind and return to the eternal peace and love found in the presence of God. Who would want to live forever in these conditions?
And yet, once death entered the world through sin, a remedy was needed to ensure we also did not remain dead forever. That remedy was Jesus. He came, he lived a sinless life, and he became the unblemished lamb, the perfect sacrifice for our sin. Though he died, God raised him from the dead, shattering sin’s death grip on us all, once for all. And thus, through Jesus the gates of the garden swing open again, inviting us back into relationship with the God of the universe.
Now that’s the happiest ending ever.