"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.”                                                                                     -- Genesis 3:24


In Genesis 4 we are told that Cain and Abel brought their offerings to the Lord, to the place of the Lord’s presence. We are not told where this prescribed place of worship was. But it was somewhere east of the Garden of Eden.


One commentary translates Genesis 3:24 – “So he (the Lord God drove out the man; and he dwelt at the east of the Garden of Eden between the Cherubims, where  a Shekinah (a flaming sword, or flaming tongue), was set to keep open the way to the tree of life.”


This translation is, in my opinion, quite accurate. The word translated “placed” in our version is never translated “placed” anywhere else in the Old Testament. It means to “tabernacle”, or “dwell”. Eighty-three times in the Old Testament it is translated “dwell”. The Lord God is always portrayed as One who dwells upon the mercy-seat, between the Cherubims (Ex. 25:17-22; 1 Sam. 4:4; 2 Sam. 6:2; 2 Kings 19:15; 1 Chron. 13:6; Psa. 80:1; 99:1; Isa. 37:16; Ezek. 10:2-7). And, though God in justice drove Adam from the Garden, he has always kept the way to the tree of life open for sinners (Heb. 10:19-22; Rev. 22:2). It is written, “He delighteth in mercy.”


The Place of Worship


God always has and forever will maintain a prescribed place of worship. When the Lord God expelled Adam from the Garden, he appears to have established an altar, a mercy-seat, protected by the Cherubims. The flaming sword, or the flaming tongue (as it might be translated), represented God’s presence, the Shekinah glory, the Spirit of God (Zech. 2:5; Acts 2:3). All who worshipped God must approach him at the place, by means of a blood sacrifice.


We are not idolaters. I know that there are no holy places upon this earth. True worship is spiritual, a matter of the heart (John 4:23-24; Phil. 3:3). We have no material altar today. Christ is our Altar, our Mercy-Seat, our Propitiation for our sin (1 John 4:10). Still, there is a place of worship, a place where men and women gather in God’s name, where God gives out his Word, where God meets with sinners upon the mercy-seat, where God dispenses his grace.


The House of God


In the days of the patriarchs that place was altars erected by God’s saints, then it was the tabernacle in the wilderness, then the temple at Jerusalem. Today, the prescribed place of worship is the church of the living God (Matt. 18:20). This is the prescribed place of God’s presence, God’s instruction, and God’s blessing.



Grace Baptist Church of Danville - Grace For Today Radio Message #820

2734 Old Stanford Road - Danville, Kentucky 40422-9438

Donald S. Fortner, Pastor -Telephone 606-236-8235 - Email