When God’s Mercy Is Not Apparent
Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”; therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life. (Genesis 3:22-24)
At first glance, it appears that the LORD God is being cruel—acting in justice, not in mercy.
He doesn’t want them to eat of the tree of life and live forever.
He sent the man out of the garden.
He placed cherubim (angels- Ezekiel 10; Isaiah 6) to guard the way to the tree of life.
He placed a flaming sword (which could cut at any angle) to keep man from eating of the tree.
A view from the top of the trees tells a different story. In reality, God was being abundantly merciful here. It was merciful of the Lord to bar man from eating of the tree of life.
How so? Well, man was still in his sinful condition (Romans 5:12) … dead in his trespasses and sins. Had he eaten of the tree of life at that time he would have lived forever in his sinfulness. Yes, man’s sin had been covered (Genesis 3:21), but he still needed conversion. By barring man’s way to eternal life at that time, he was giving mankind the time to be made new, to be converted; later, to be born again (John 3:3-7). God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
Apparently, they still had access to Eden (a holy place) but not to the tree of life. They could worship, but it was not yet the time to live forever.
For Further Review
1. Have you ever questioned whether or not God is merciful? If so, how did you come to a different conclusion?
2. Why was it a merciful thing for God to prevent man from eating of the tree of life in Genesis 3? Use your own words.
3. What is God’s heart for the lost and dying? What is His attitude toward sinners? How should that affect the way we view those living in the world around us?
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