. . . they shall mount up with wings as eagles . . . Isaiah 40:31

The Flaming Sword

Genesis 3:24 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.

In Genesis chapter three, we have the story of the fall of man. Early in the chapter the woman, having been tempted of the devil, eats of the fruit that God had forbidden the man and woman to eat. She ate of the fruit and gave to her husband who was with her. When God came to visit Adam that evening, Adam was hiding, and the LORD asked him if he had eaten of the forbidden fruit. Then there were curses pronounced upon the serpent, upon the woman, and upon the man.

The result of Adam’s disobedience was a separation from God’s presence, without which the earth would no longer bring forth its abundance, and man would need to labor to have food to eat. The earth would bring forth thorns and thistles, and by the sweat of his face would Adam eat bread all the days of his life, and then return to the dust from which he had been made.

Genesis 3:22 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:

Satan had enticed Eve by telling her that if she ate the forbidden fruit that she would be like a god, knowing good and evil. And the LORD says here in verse 22 that indeed the man has become as one of us, to know good and evil.

Knowing good and evil was a god-like characteristic. Certainly, God had the knowledge of both good and evil, but it was not a characteristic that man was supposed to have, though it seems inevitable that man would eventually cross that line. It was forbidden. Man was not supposed to go there. And as long as he stayed away from that fruit, he remained safely in the garden, living a wonderful and blessed life. The word Eden, by the way, means “pleasure” and has been referred to in scripture as “paradise.” Adam had been accustomed to eating of every tree of the garden, including, we can only assume, the tree of life. The one fruit he had been forbidden to eat was the fruit of tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Now, it does not take a great leap of faith to recognize that the Bible is describing spiritual things here. Certainly, there was a natural place, a physical place, called Eden, as recorded in Genesis 2:8.

Genesis 2:8 And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

It was a physical place. But the relationship that Adam had with God was a spiritual relationship. It was that spiritual connection that made Eden to be paradise. And it was that spiritual connection that was broken when Adam sinned.

So, the trees described in genesis are spiritual trees. The fruit that Adam ate was, in reality, the knowledge of his own disobedience, the recognition within himself that he had disobeyed and sinned against God. He now had knowledge of both good and evil, and that’s what separated him from God. And he was in a condition that could be allowed to remain in paradise.

It says . . . and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:

Notice that the LORD does not even finish the statement, but leaves it open-ended. What would have happened if the man had eaten of the tree of life while in that condition? We can only guess that he would have been empowered to remain in that condition forever. But that was something the LORD was not going to allow.

Genesis 3:23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.

Man was condemned to be sent out from that spiritual place called Paradise, that place where he had enjoyed fellowship with his Creator, the place where he had walked side by side with Him in the cool of the day. He was still in the earth, but no longer in Paradise.

Adam’s sin had caused a breaking of fellowship with God. He was now alienated from God, or, we could say, he was without God in the world. And this is the condition that man was left in, the condition that would be passed down to the generations of men to come. And it’s the condition that every unsaved person is in before receiving Christ. The Bible says he is alienated from the covenants of promise, and without God in the world.

But the Bible says that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly. The LORD has made a way to bring mankind back into fellowship with Him. And that way is through Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life.

Genesis 3:24 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.

He placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubim, or angelic guards. If Paradise is a spiritual place, and it is, then it would need to be guarded by spiritual forces, or angelic beings.

And it was also guarded by a flaming sword which turned every way. The word flaming here means flaming, as of an angelic sword. That’s the exact meaning from the Strong’s Concordance. The phrase “turned every way” means to turn, to turn about, to change, to transform.

That makes it a little clearer. The thing that guards the way to the spiritual place called Paradise is a flaming sword that transforms.

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

How is the mind of man transformed and renewed? By receiving the word of God. The word of God is that flaming sword that transforms and renews the mind. Paul refers to the word of God in Ephesians as the sword of the Spirit. Why is the word of God likened unto a sword, a killing instrument, an instrument of death? Because the worldly nature of the one who is alienated from God is put to death by it.

That one, that ungodly man, cannot be allowed to enter the Paradise of God, but the man who is renewed by the word, the man who is transformed by that sword can, little by little, enter in.

And, just a side thought to support this idea, the angelic guards and the flaming sword were placed east of Eden. If we think from a spiritual perspective, a person approaching the garden would be approaching from the east, or, that is, toward the west, toward the going down of the sun.

There would of necessity be a going down of the sun, or a dying of something, required to enter in, not the dying of self, as some would say, but the dying of the ungodly nature. Man would need to be changed to come back in.

1 Corinthians 15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. It’s not a physical place. But the new creation man can enter. And every believer is already a new creature in Christ, though still living in an earthly, physical body. And that one, that new creation man, can eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

Continued in the message The Tree of Life

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