Genesis 3:20-24 Living East of Eden

Posted on June 29, 2008. Filed under: Genesis: Answers to Life's Crucial Questions |

Redeemer Church Sunday School

Genesis: Finding Answers to Life’s Crucial Questions

Semester One: Genesis 1-3 “Beginnings”

June 29, 2008

Gen. 3:20-24 “Living East of Eden

-OR- “How Should We Then Live?”



Introduction: We come now to the end of our semester and the end of Gen. 1-3. In the last few weeks we have studied the serpent and the devil, sin and evil, God’s judgment on the couple for their sin, the first prophesy of Christ and we have seen God’s mercy on the couple in that he withheld the penalty, and he gave them grace as pictured in His clothing the couple in animal skins which implied that a couple of animals had to die, thus we see yet another picture of Christ in this chapter.


What remains? Today we shall examine the last 4-5 verses of the chapter to understand what it means to be exiled from the Garden, to Live East of Eden. What does it mean to be banished from the Garden? Francis Schaeffer wrote a book about 30-40 years ago called, “How Should We Then Live?” What are we to make of the human condition East of Eden? How is it different for the Christian as compared to the non-Christian? What are the similarities? Lastly, we shall look at the mysterious cherubim and the doctrine of angels.


I. There Is Hope East of Eden

Vs.20- Adam names his wife Eve- hawwa– living, translated by zoe in the Greek. First of all we see that Adam finally takes a step up and exercises his authority by naming his wife. Where was Adam and his authority earlier when she was talking with the serpent? But this is a positive step. Earlier in 2:23 he named her Woman- ‘issa  for she was taken out of man. Thus in his first naming of the woman he acknowledges that he is her source of life, but now with hawwa Eve he is trusting that God will preserve their lives so that she will be the source of all living. This is an act of faith in God that He will not execute his wrath on the couple. Look at the context of that verse- immediately after the judgment pronouncement by God, “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread…” Adam’s response was to name his wife the mother of all living, Eve. Where was this huge faith a few verses ago?


Vs.21-Following Adam’s faithful naming of Eve, God makes for the human pair clothing from the skins of animals. As I said last week I believe that somewhere in there God taught the couple how to now worship him with a sacrifice because we see the children of Adam and Eve worshiping in ch. 4 with offerings and sacrifices. But notice the sequence here: sin, caught in sin, judgment- with a prophecy that gives man some hope, man’s response of faith, God’s provision of clothing that involved the deaths of substitutes.


This verse also is a device used by Moses to point forward to the tabernacle in a couple of ways. God’s clothing the pair points us to the priestly garments. Ex 20:26; 28:42. In many of the pagan forms of worshiping the various fertility goddesses they had clothing optional worship services, thus once again we see Moses confronting the world in which he and the Israelites lived. Even the skins Adam and Eve wore point to the fact in Lev.7:8 that when making a sacrifice, the skins were given to the priests. Mathews writes, (p.255) “The God of the Garden as Creator and Savior mirrors the God of Tabernacle sacrifice, whom Israel had come to recognize by the voice of Moses and the prophets.”


What does this say to us today, East of Eden? 1) We clearly see that there is a Savior who will give us grace if we but trust in Him. This is the Message the World needs to hear. We are either clothed in the righteousness of Christ or we remain naked before the gaze of a Holy, Just God who will surely punish sin. 2) Though we have lost much to sin, though its effects are deep within us, we have a reason to carry on in faith. We do not have to give in to despair. Yes, we have to gain our bread from the toil and sweat of this sin filled life, but we can persevere thinking of the return to paradise that has been promised us.


II. Banished from the Garden!

Vs.22- in a twisted way we have become like God in knowing good and evil. The problem is that our hearts are now inclined to evil full time. The stories following in ch.4-6 emphasize that. To live East of Eden, then, is to live a jumbled up world of good and evil. As sinners we have an idea of good, but we cannot live up to it, we fail our own standards, our own consciences all the time. We long for the good, we long for a return of innocence, but it eludes us. Time and again we do evil while pretending to seek the good, thinking our little shortcut will bring to us what satisfies. But we keep on being disappointed. And each little step of evil, each little shortcut, de-humanizes us and causes us to drift further from Eden. It even gets worse as men call that which is good evil and that which is evil good. Isa.5:20 “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” While we know experientially good and evil, it seems we cannot discern the difference anymore as sinners.


But this verse has something rather peculiar about it, that I believe I mentioned last week. The Lord is concerned lest man reach out and eat of the tree of life while in this fallen condition. The way this is shown in Hebrew is that it kind of leaves an incomplete thought at the end of the sentence…as if the implications are too awful to express verbally. To eat of the tree of life while in this fallen state, and live forever in that condition would be unthinkable. It would be an eternal death, much like hell I believe. The eternal blessed life is forbidden man in this condition for it comes with obedience alone. Man was forgiven, but that forgiveness is also founded upon the obedience of Christ alone. Christ alone perfectly kept the law of God in his obedient life and faithful death.


Again we see that this episode points forward to Israel as they approached the Promised Land. Moses in Deut.30:11-20 puts the choice to his people in very clear terms, choose life or death, blessings or curses.


Vs.23- The man and woman are banished from the Garden.  One famous fresco on the wall of the Brancacci Chapel in Florence by Masaccio is called “Expulsion from Paradise”; the work features bold contrasts of light and darkness that serve to highlight the picture’s drama. In it Adam and Eve are being driven away by an angel hovering overhead, sword in hand. The human pair are engulfed in anguish. Adam’s head is bowed low, hands covering his face; Eve’s head is thrown back, her mouth open in a cry of deep personal pain. As Adam and Eve walk away from the Garden of Eden, their withering shame is painfully evident in the very motion of their bodies. This fresco, like the verbal portrait given to us in Genesis, at once etches the shame and misery of the human condition on our souls”.(James Montgomery Boice, Genesis: An Expositional Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982. Vol. 1, p.194).


To be evicted from Paradise means now that man must fight nature to win his bread. The Garden was to require work in order to maintain and expand it, but now man must fight the elements, the thorns and thistles, poor soil, wild animals and everything else. Drought, wildfire, flood, hail, early frosts, late frosts, blight, disease, locust and other pests, all became man’s bane East of Eden. The word for banished or “sent him out” is salah and is the same word used later in Genesis by Moses to describe Abraham driving out Ishmael as a rival to Isaac in Gen. 21:14 and 25:6. The word is also used in Lev.16:10 in describing the scapegoat being driven from the camp of Israel to symbolize our sins being driven out of the camp, expelled, exiled.


Vs.24- The word is “drove” which is even stronger, garas– which is used in Gen. 4:14 of Cain being exiled and again in 21:10 when Sarah wants Abraham to banish the slave girl Hagar and her son. This is the language of divorce and separation, or in Ex.33:2; Deut.33:27 it is the language of a total military rout of the enemy.


Look around at the teeming masses of humanity spread all across the globe. These billions are all banished from the presence of God, exiled from Paradise, driven out of God’s presence by our sin and his holiness. The lostness of humanity is simply horrible and overwhelming. That is our legacy from Adam and Eve.


Notice the direction East. This is repeated in the Pentateuch. In 4:16 Cain goes East from God’s presence. The tower of Babel is in the East in 11:2. Lot goes to the east when he leaves Abraham in 13:8-13 and Keturah’s sons are sent East as well in 25:6.  But look further and you see that even the Tabernacle is set up facing East where the altar is set Ex.26-27. In Matt.2:1 the magi come from what direction? They come from the East to the place of the Messiah, a return from the East to Paradise, home of the Lord is pictured even in the Christmas story. Isa. 43:5; Zech 8:7.


Genesis 3:21-24    “East of Eden        June 6, 1999am





I. Sin Replaces God with Self

II. Sin Keeps Us from Life

III. Sin Keeps Us from God

IV. Living East of Eden




Introduction: We are studying Genesis- Answers to Basic Life Questions. Today we look at a fascinating passage that has been depicted by famous artists many times. One famous fresco on the wall of the Brancacci Chapel in Florence by Masaccio is called “Expulsion from Paradise”; the work features bold contrasts of light and darkness that serve to highlight the picture’s drama. In it Adam and Eve are being driven away by an angel hovering overhead, sword in hand. The human pair are engulfed in anguish. Adam’s head is bowed low, hands covering his face; Eve’s head is thrown back, her mouth open in a cry of deep personal pain. As Adam and Eve walk away from the Garden of Eden, their withering shame is painfully evident in the very motion of their bodies. This fresco, like the verbal portrait given to us in Genesis, at once etches the shame and misery of the human condition on our souls”.(James Montgomery Boice, Genesis: An Expositional Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982. Vol. 1, p.194).

            Our study today will answer some questions like, “What has sin done to us?” and “Is there hope for exiled sinners?” Here in this text we will find a theme that is seen throughout the Scriptures and we will meet the first instance of the amazing Cherubim.

            This morning we all need to examine our lives to see where we are living? Are we East of Eden, living apart from God? Are we in anguish as Adam and Eve were depicted in the Masaccio fresco? Have we found our way back to the Tree of Life yet?


I. Sin Replaces God with Self.

            Back in 3:5 the serpent stated “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil”. Now in 3:22 God says “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.” As always what the serpent said had only a grain of truth, man did become like God in knowing good and evil but that knowledge was devastating to man, not exalting. Expecting unlimited privileges and status they received pain, suffering, toil and death. “Alas, rather than experiencing bliss, they encounter misery. Rather than sitting on a throne, they are expelled from the garden. Rather than new prerogatives, they experience only a reversal. The couple not only fails to gain something they do not already have; the irony is that they lose what they currently possess: unsullied fellowship with God. They found nothing and lost everything.” (Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis Chapters 1-17. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990.p.208).

            The essence of sin is placing self on the throne, exalting self above God. Our Day is a time of Godlessness. We have summarily dismissed God from our culture and our lives. We are so busy trying to live our lives just the way we want that we have tossed God aside. Man is the measure of all things. Yes we have become like God, and the job is too big for us, the throne is too much for us, the scepter is too heavy, and consequently we have fouled it up considerably.

            When God is not at the center of our lives we are out of balance, out of focus, lonely and wading in chaos. As our lives slowly crumble around us and ruin sets in, we wonder aloud “?Where is God?” “Why is my life so messed up? Why did it turn out this way?”

            I know there are those who are very rich and successful while ruling their lives instead of allowing God to rule. I have seen the rich and famous up close and personally in my job and I can tell you that a lost rich person is just as messed up as a lost poor person. The money hides some of the pain behind worldly toys, but chaos still surrounds their everyday existence. For rich or poor, black or white, old or young, men and women, the promise of the serpent still rings hollow in the end as we find the job of God too big for us to handle. Every false religion and philosophy seeks to replace God with something, usually self or some group of men somewhere.


II. Sin Keeps Us From Life.

            In verse 22 “He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat and live forever–” Now if you have a King James, New King James, or New American Standard you will notice a dash after that verse. The significance of that dash is to indicate that the Hebrew states it in an unfinished way, as if the implications are too awful to state. The implication is that if man, the now fallen sinner, were to eat of the tree of life he would live forever as a sinner apart from God. The thought of living in sin without hope forever! That is too much like hell, it may very well be hell.

            Sin not only brought with it instant spiritual death, separation from God, it brought with it a prohibition from eating of the tree of life. There is now a loss of ability to enter eternal life on our own. Apparently prior to their sin the first couple could eat from the tree of life, but now it is impossible and from God’s perspective, it is unthinkable.

            The hidden reality of sin is that we live as dead men, dead to God, dead to the real life God intends for us. I have met so many people in the past three yrs through my job that live sad, lonely hurting lives- lives without the kind of life God desires for us. Jesus says in John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” or as the King James says “have it more abundantly”.

            Are you living the abundant life God intends? Or are you merely existing, going on day by day? Do you have a holy purpose for your life, an eternal purpose that gives glory to God? Jeremiah 29:11″For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

            Teenagers, if you want to know what life is all about I can say that life is all about living for the glory of God minute by minute, hour by hour , day by day. Acts 17:28″In Him (God) we live and move and have our being” The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks what is the chief end (purpose) of man; “man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever” Sin detracts from our purpose and chief end. Sin ruins our life purpose.


III. Sin Keeps Us from God.

            The picture of the story is not just that man is kicked out of his garden home; he is removed, forcibly ejected from God’s holy presence. In vs 23 ” the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden” that word banished is also used in Lev16:10  to refer to sending the scapegoat out, signifying the banishing of sin from out of the Lord’s presence. In verse 24 “He drove the man out..” an even stronger word meaning he forcibly ejects man, evicts man, casts man out of the presence of God.

            This is a picture of the holiness of God, God cannot abide with sin, he cannot tolerate sin in his holy presence. The garden is God’s garden, man was merely the caretaker, God is the owner. Sin does not belong in His Garden. Modern man is not very well acquainted with holiness and not too concerned with sin.

            Holiness is God’s complete perfection and absence of sin; it is God’s otherness, he is high and lifted up above his creation. God is totally pure and complete, righteous and just, truthful and constant. All that God is is holy. Sin is an affront to God’s character, sin offends the nature of God, sin is rebellion against his authority. Sin breaks the law of God and deserves to be cast out.

            We see the mention of Cherubim here in vs 24 for the first time in  scripture. These are not cute little angels with harps shooting love arrows at couples. These are fierce warrior creatures with swords of fire that are assigned to guard the entrance to the garden protecting the tree of life. Again the emphasis is that man cannot on his own come back into fellowship with God, he cannot enter into His presence or eat of the tree of life, that path is now and forever closed to man. The entry way is guarded.


IV. Living East of Eden

            How is it here in the land east of Eden? Some are greatly pleased to be on their own, out from under the authority of God. However, all readily admit this old world is messed up. The grass is not greener on this side of the fence at all. Man is afraid, frail, and full of sin and pain.

            Barely scratching a living by the sweat of his brow man has become accustomed to poverty when God intends abundance. We practice deceit and wickedness, violence proliferates and with all our technology we still can’t change the heart of man.

            What is to be done?

            There is something else about the cherubim you ought to know that can give you hope. Where else do the Cherubim appear? In Exodus 36-37 we see that Cherubim were on the top of the cover of the Ark, the mercy seat is its name. The mercy seat is where the high priest, once a year, came in to sprinkle blood for atonement. The cherubim are there proclaiming God’s mercy too, guarding the way to God’s mercy.           

          Where else do we see Cherubim? On the curtain dividing the Holy of Holies from the Holy place. Again symbols of the presence and holiness of God and of man’s inability to approach God on man’s terms. Look now at Matt 27:51 What was rent in two at the crucifixion of Jesus? The vail that had the cherubim on it. What does this signify? The way to the tree of life is now open, access to God through the shed blood of Christ.

            Finally, in Rev 22:2,4,19 we see the tree of life again, available for the saints to partake of forever. The tree of life is Christ again, the source of our eternal life.


Conclusion: Are you still living East of Eden? Will you come to Jesus now?



Genesis 3:24   “Cherubim and the Doctrine of Angels”

6-20-99 PM



Introduction: As we study our way through Genesis we will take the opportunity to examine every important doctrine we come across because one of my goals in this study is to show that “The New in the Old is contained, and the Old in the New is explained”. When we started this study I said that Genesis is crucial for our faith and for understanding the rest of scripture. Genesis is a mini-theology for the Bible as a whole. The first three chapters especially are deep and rich in doctrine as we have found.

            Tonight’s study again, is less a sermon and more of a Bible study; this approach is because of the subject matter- Angels. Angels are popular these days on TV (Touched By An Angel) and in art and jewelry. Despite the abundance of material in Scripture about angels, we still seem to have not much solid information for they are never explained fully, they remain mysterious; hence our fascination with them!


1.Cherubim- Let us begin with our primary text, Gen.3:24 and ask what are the Cherubim? In a previous sermon I touched briefly on this but let me quickly review. They seem to be the angelic beings that are associated most with the presence of God. Here in Gen.3 it is the tree of life they are guarding. In Ex.25:17ff it is the mercy seat of the Ark; in Ex.26:31-34 it is the veil before the Holy of Holies (see Matt.27:51). See Ezekiel 1 and 10 for a fuller description. Compare with Rev.4:6-8.


2.Where did angels come from? They are created! Job 38:4-7; Psa. 148:2,5; Luke 20:34-36; Col. 1:16.


3.How many angels are there? Deut.33:2; Psa 68:17; Matt. 26:53 (a legion could have between 3000-6000), Rev. 5:11.


4. What do they look like? Usually invisible Num.22:31; 2Kings6:17.

            Manlike at times, Gen. 18:2; 19:1; Lk. 24:4.

            Clothed in glory, Lk. 2:9; Matt. 28:3; Rev. 1:14

            Erickson (p.440) “There are no indications of angels appearing in female form”.

            Winged only as Cherubim and Seraphim, Isa. 6:2; and Ex 25:20.


5. What is their nature? They are personal beings in that they have intelligence and wills and can make moral choices. Lk. 1:26; 2Sam 14:20; Matt. 25:31; Mk 8:38; Rev. 22:9; Jude 6.


6. What do they know? Matt 24:36; Lk 12:8; Gal 3:19; Eph. 3:10; 2Peter2:11.


7. What about Archangels? 1Thess4:16; Jude 9


8. A problem passage! Gen.6:2, re. Matt.22:30, > sons of Seth?


9. Activities: Praise! Psa. 103:20; 148:2; Lk. 2:13-14; Rev. 5:11-12.

            Reveal God’s messages: Lk. 1:13f; Acts 8:26; 10:3-7

            Minister to Believers Psa 34:7; Lk 15:10; Acts 5:19; Heb. 1:14; Matt. 18:10

            Exercise God’s judgment: 2Sam. 24:16; Ex. 14:19f; 2Kings 19:35; Acts 12:23; Rev. 19:11-14.

            Will come with Christ: Matt. 25:31 (see birth, temptation, resurrection); Matt. 13:39-42.




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