Sermon #22 Series: Pictures of Grace in Genesis
Title: Adam Driven From Eden - A Picture of Grace
Text: Genesis 3:22-24
Subject: Adam and the Tree of Life
Date: Tuesday Evening - December 17, 1991
In my opinion, no portion of Holy Scripture is more important than the first three chapters of Genesis. If a man truly believes and understands Genesis 1, 2, and 3, he has grasped the whole system of divine truth, for he has grasped the foundation of all truth. If we fail to understand what is revealed in these three chapters, we cannot understand anything else in the Sacred Volume. Perhaps that is the reason satan has always raised up false prophets to twist, pervert and deny the opening chapters of Genesis.
Chapter 1 reveals the origin and creation of the universe and the formation of man from the dust of the earth. “In the beginning God” - Those four words show us that the Lord God is the Creator, Ruler, and Disposer of all things. “All things were made by him and for him; and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:3).
Chapter 2 reveals the happiness, power, and greatness of man before sin entered into the world. In the garden, in innocence Adam was the object of God’s favor and delight. God made him lord of the earth. All creatures were under his dominion. He lived in harmony with God, the holy angels and the beasts of the field in perfect happiness. But Adam did not continue in this blessed, happy condition.
Chapter 3 reveals the temptation and fall of our father Adam and the consequences of it. What a sad, sad picture! Man, created in the image of God; man, to whom God had given the whole world; man, the prince of God’s creation rebelled against his Creator and lost everything!
When we had lost everything, when Adam and Eve were trying to hide themselves from the Lord God, trying to cover the shame of their sin and their nakedness from God, the Lord God stepped in, not to destroy them, but to save them by his grace! (Gen. 3:9).
· He promised a Redeemer (3:15).
· He promised to destroy the enemy (3:15).
· He made a sacrifice for them (3:21).
· He clothed them with the skins of the slain sacrifice (3:21).
Then somehting that to me has always appeared to be strange and confusing happened. I have never been able to understand it before; but I think the Lord has given me some help over the last few days. Let’s read verses 22-24.
Tonight, I want us to look at verse 22. The title of my message is Adam Driven From Eden - A Picture of Grace.
I want you to see that God’s grace, not his wrath, is revealed in driving Adam and Eve from the garden “to keep the way of the tree of life,” that is, to preserve and protect “the way of the tree of life.”
1. Who is speaking in this text? “The Lord God said,”
2. What is the meaning of the Lord’s words regarding the condition of man - “Behold, the man is become as one of us to know good and evil.”
3. What is the tree of life?
4. Why was Adam prevented from eating of the tree of life after the fall?
I. WHO IS SPEAKING IN THIS TEXT?
When Moses wrote, “The Lord God said,” who did he have in mind? It is Jehovah-Elohim speaking; but he says, “The man has become as onen of us.” One Person is speaking, but more than one person is represented. The Person speaking is Christ, the second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Son of God, Jehovah-Elohim. He is speaking for the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
You can mark this down - Anytime we read of God speaking to man, or of God being revealed to man in the Old Testament, in the New Testament, or in eternity, the Person speaking, the Person revealed is the son of God, our Mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ (John 5:37).
The only way God deals with men, the only way God speaks to men, the only way God reveals himself to men is in his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:6).
· Christ is the Word of God (John 1:1-3).
· Christ is the Revelation of God (John 1:14, 18).
When Moses penned these words, “The Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us,” the Spirit of God was, in this Book of Beginnings, revealing four facts that are essential to the Christian faith.
A. The pre-existence of Christ before his incarnation (John 8:58).
“He is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Col. 1:17). Our Lord Jesus Christ is not a creature of time. He is the Creator, the I AM, who is, who was and who is to come.
B. The eternal deity of Christ.
In our text, the divine Mediator is called “The Lord God,” Jehovah-Elohim, because Jesus Christ is God (Isa. 9;6; Rom. 9:5; 1 Tim. 3:16; John 10:30-33).
· He claimed to be God.
· Angels and men worshipped him as God.
· The Jews crucified him because he claimed to be God.
C. The plurality and unity of the eternal Godhead - “Us.”
When the Lord God spoke and called himself “us” he was declaring the plurality of Persons in the Godhead. We are trinitarians! We worship one God in the Trinity, or Tri-unity, of his sacred Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit (1 John 5:7).
· The Baptismal Formula (Matt. 28:19-20).
· Our Lord’s Baptism (Matt. 3:16-17).
“Go to Jordan, and there learn the doctrine of the Trinity!”
D. The mediation of Christ.
Christ Jesus is our Mediator, our only Mediator; and he has been our Mediator from eternity (1 Tim. 2:5).
In this third chapter of Genesis, Christ is revealed in all three of his mediatorial offices, Prophet, Priest, and King.
1. In his kingly office, he arraigned fallen man before his bar of judgment, convicting him of treason, and passed upon him the sentence of death.
2. In his prophetic office, he promised redemption and salvation to the fallen pair, and told them how it would be accomplished.
3. In his priestly office, he made a sacrifice for the guilty and clothed our parents in the skins of the innocent victims.
The Person speaking in our text is the Lord God, Jehovah- Elohim, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God, the Son of God, our Mediator, our Savior. And he is speaking to the fallen, sinful man, our father, Adam.
II. WHAT IS THE MEANING OF OUR LORD’S WORDS REGARDING THE CONDITION OF THE MAN?
“The Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil.” But what do those words mean?
A. The text might be translated, “Behold, the man was as one of us, knowing good and evil.”
If the words are taken in that sense, they are an expression of great pity. God is saying, “Behold, the man, now fallen, sinful, rined, depraved, and dead; he was as one of us, knowing good and evil,” but now only evil.
You see, man was created in the image and likeness of God as he is revealed in Christ, who is the image of the invisible God (Gen. 1:26).
1. Adam was created in the image of God in the form and constitution of his body and his human nature.
The first Adam was formed in the image of him who was to come as the second Adam, Christ, the God-man. Adam did not crawl out of a slime pit, or drop out of a tree. He was created in the image of Christ, who is the image of God.
He came to be partaker of our flesh and blood; but we are partakers of his flesh and of his bones (Eph. 5:30).
2. Adam was made in the image of God in moral uprightness and righteousness too.
Man came out of his Creator’s hands a holy creature. And when God makes a man new by his grace, he restores holiness to him. This renovation of grace is called, “The new man which, after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:24).
3. The image of God in which man was created is also reflected in his mental capacity.
Like his Creator, Adam was wise, rational, and full of knowledge.
· He named all living things.
· He knew his wife when she was brought to him.
· He knew both good and evil.
Though, like Christ himself, before the fall, Adam knew no sin by experience, he knew the nature of it. He knew that it was contrary to God’s Being. And he knew the consequences of it. In this sense, I am sure Adam knew both good and evil far more fully before the fall than he did afterwards.
4. Again, the image of God in which man was created is seen in Adam’s dominion over all earthly creatures.
Adam was made lord of God’s creation (Gen. 1:26). The majesty of God was seen in him by the universal subjection of all creatures to him (Psa. 8:5-8).
The sense of this text is, “Behold, the man was as one of us, but what is he now?” His body, so strong and full of life, is now feeble and dying! His soul, so pure and holy, is now depraved and vile! His mind, so full of wisdom and knowledge, is now darkness and ignorance! The man who was the darling of heaven is now alienated from God!
B. However, I am inclined to think that our translation is best - “Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil.”
This is a declaration of Adam’s present state and condition, and of ours, in Christ. Though fallen by nature, we are now, as Adam was, restored by grace. What God here says of Adam is true of every believer. Though in Adam we fell, in Christ we are restored, just like Adam was.
· By the call of grace - “Where art thou?”
· By blood atonement - The sacrifice!
· By imputed righteousness - The skins!
Illustration: Two coats (Lk. 3:11).
1. Like Adam, we have been clothed with Christ’s righteousnes, and we are “righteous, even as he is righteous” (1 John 3:7; Jer. 23:6; 33:16).
2. Like Adam, being renewed by grace, we are now created in the image of Christ, conformed to him (Eph. 4:24).
3. Like Adam, we are now reconciled to and one with God in Christ (John 17:21).
Enmity has been put away! Reconciliation has been made by God! Now, we are in a state of friendship with God! But more, in Christ, we are one with God.
4. Like Adam, having been called from darkness to light in Christ, we know both good and evil.
· We know the goodness of God!
· We know the evil our own hearts!
III. WHAT WAS THE TREE OF LIFE WHICH GOD WOULD NOT ALLOW ADAM TO TAKE BY HIS OWN HANDS?
I do not doubt for a minute that it was a real tree in the garden of Eden. Adam knew where it was, and how useful it was as the tree of life. “It is highly probable, that it might be useful for the invigorating of Adam’s body…during his state of innocence” (Gill). But it was also a symbolical tree.
A. It was a symbol of Adam’s dependence upon God for his life.
Everytime he saw it and ate its fruit, Adam was reminded that his life came from God, was preserved by God, and belonged to God.
B. It was a symbol of Adam’s preservation in life, so long as he was obedient to the will of God.
Perhaps it stood right beside the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. I don’t know. But everytime he passed by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and ate only of the fruit of the tree of life, Adam had confirmed to him the promise of life for his obedience to God.
You can be sure of this - The tree of life was not a tree by which fallen Adam might have been translated from his fallen condition to a state of heavenly, eternal life (Gal. 3:21). When God prevented Adam from eating the fruit of this tree it was not for the purpose of keeping Adam from obtaining life. It was for the purpose of revealing his grace in Adam and preserving, or keeping, “the way of the tree of life” (v. 24).
C. You see, that tree of life was a picture, a symbol, a type of the Lord Jesus Christ (Prov. 3:18; Rev. 2:7; 22:2, 14).
He is our Life! He is the Author and Giver of Life! As our Mediator, he asked the Father for our life. As our Redeemer, he purchased a right to life for us with his own blood. As our Advocate and Intercessor in heaven, he secures us in life in hiself. “Your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3; John 10:27-30).
IV. SO WHY WAS ADAM, AFTER THE FALL, PREVENTED FROM EATING THE FRUIT OF THE TREE OF LIFE?
This is the question that I have asked myself for twenty-five years everytime I have read Genesis 3. I have read the opinions of a lot of men on the text; but none of them made any sense to me, until I read a sermon by John Gill this past week. He said, “The reason of this prevention was that Adam might have no hope nor expectation of life, from that, or anything else, but Christ the promised Messiah.” This was an act of grace! Though Adam had forfeited all claims to life, God kept open the way of life, and kept him from seeking life anywhere else but in Christ.
If the Lord had not prevented Adam from eating the physical fruit of that physical tree, Adam might well have thought to himself - As this tree was useful before in the preservation of my life, it might still be. God has promised me a Redeemer, but why should I wait for him. I can save myself by my own hands. All I have to do is eat the fruit of the tree of life.
To keep Adam from that evil, the Lord God removed the temptation from him. He thrust him out of Eden and placed a guard around the tree of life.
You see, there is nothing a man is more prone to do than to seek salvation and life anywhere but in Christ. We are all base idolaters by nature. We want to be saved. We will do anything to be saved, except trust Christ alone (John 5:40).
· Israel and the Brazen Serpent.
· Crosses! - Morality! - Prayers!
· “Sacraments!” - “Holy Living!”
Man would rather take a pilgrimage, barefoot on broken glass around the globe than trust Christ. He would rather climb the steep, dark, terrifying slopes of Sinai than simply look to the Christ of Calvary.
But God has declared that Christ alone is Savior (1 Cor. 1:30). Sinners cannot come to God any other way. By your own works of righteousness you cannot be saved. “He who seeks for righteousness and life by his own doings, runs upon the flaming sword of justice; and whilst endeavoring to insure his own salvation, he is pulling ruin upn himself” (Gill).
Blessed be God, he still keeps “the way of the tree of life!” He still keeps chosen sinners from self-destruction by self-righteousness! He blocks up the way of his elect and graciously forces them to flee to Christ, the true Tree of Life! (Hosea 2:6).
From all that I have said tonight I want us to…
1. Ever be aware of the wretched, vile nature of sin (Rom. 5:12).
2. See the vanity of salvation by works.
It is not only something God has not ordained. It is something against which God has set himself. All who seek to save themselves are fighting against God (Gal. 5:1-4).
3. Bless, praise, and magnify the Lord our God for providing Christ the Savior for lost sinners (1 Cor. 9:15).
· Provided before we sinned.
· Revealed before Adam was driven from the garden.
4. Cease from all self-righteousness and lay hold upon Christ alone.
He “is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon him; and happy is everyone that retaineth” him (Prov. 3:18).