Occasionally, I like to address a Scripture that is commonly misunderstood. Today is one of those days. The Scripture is found in Genesis 3:22-24 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: 23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. 24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
A common understanding is that since man sinned, he was driven out of the garden where the tree of life was located because he couldn’t be trusted any more and the angel with the flaming sword was stationed there to protect the tree of life by preventing man from ever returning.
There are several things wrong with that interpretation. First, God was not protecting the tree of life from man but rather He was protecting man from the tree of life. Had Adam taken from the tree of life, he would have sealed his own doom because that would have sealed his eternity in the fallen state and God had greater thing planned for man. It would have destroyed God’s plan of man being completed in God’s image, likeness and authority. Man needed time to be changed into that likeness.
Second, it was not an angel that was placed at the entrance to the Garden of Eden, but a Cherubim, which means spiritual enforcer. This was not to prevent man from taking from the Tree of Life, but to restrict man until he would come restored to a right relationship.
Thirdly there are two directives as to man’s exodus. In verse 23 states that the Lord sent him forth from the garden to till the ground from whence he was taken. The ground was cursed for man’s sake (v. 17) He needed to see the effect of sin in order to turn from it and back to God. Then in verse 24 we see that man was driven out. Man had willfully gone against God and he needed to understand that thereare consequences for sin. God will not lower His standards and wink at our sin. It will take God’s intervention to deal with sin and it was pictured in the slaying of the animal for their new coverings or clothing.
Fourthly, the flaming sword is described in Eph 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: as the Word of God. We know it as the Scriptures or The Bible. It is further described in Heb 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. You cannot fool God and He will know you to the depth of your inner most being. Entrance is restricted to only one way, the way of the cross.
Finally, the phrase “to keep the way” does not mean to keep the way closed, but just the opposite, to keep the way open. Though it is kept open it is still restricted to meet God’s standards. There is hope for man to complete God’s plan for man by entering in the manner that God is pleased with and that is the was of Faith in Jesus. However, we must come repentant of our self-government and surrender our will to the Lord Jesus for it is His blood the brings our sin into submission. Without that blood there is no remission.