"Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." -Jesus Christ (Matthew 12:34)

Kicked Out of Eden

Don’t be alarmed! It’s just me.

Recently, I began reading again in Genesis. I am still amazed at God’s creation and His greatness that made man a living soul. I never want to take the familiar for granted. It’s rich.

Yesterday I landed in Genesis 3. Whole volumes have been dedicated to the content within this chapter. I remember writing a 10 page paper in college regarding “The First Proclamation of the Gospel in Genesis 3:15″. Many of you who are reading this entry are probably familiar with “The Fall of Man” (the heading given to Genesis 3). If not, you can read it here.

Here is Genesis 3 in a nut-shell. The “crafty” serpent deceives the woman(1,4). The woman, full of deception, lusts after the forbidden fruit (6a,b). The now deceived, lustful woman, in her pride (6c) partakes of the fruit (in direct disobedience of what God commanded (2,3)) and shares it with her husband (6d). As a result, both man and woman found themselves to be naked (7). The LORD God shows up and reveals to them their  sin (as if they were’t aware)(8-11). The man blames the woman (12), the woman blames the serpent (13), and God punishes all three (14-24).

There is so much to discover within this passage, but for the sake of time, I’ll not go there. I do, however, want to touch on verses 22-24 where my question to you has do to with verse 22 specifically.

” (22)Then the LORD God sad, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever -’ (23) therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. (24) He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden, he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.”

As I’m sure you have heard it explained, God kicked Adam and Eve out of the garden because of their disobedience. God said don’t, they did, God punished, and kicked them out of the garden. I got it. In my reading, though, I kept going back to verse 22 and here’s my question to you… What did God mean when He said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil”? Perhaps my mind is trying to make too much out of this statement. In the countless number of times  I’ve read through this passage, I have never stopped at 22. It’s as though I’ve never read it. I understand why God wouldn’t want them to partake of the tree of life  as they would then be forever in their sinful condition. Adam and Eve has to go, I get it. Verse 22 just stopped me for a while.

The first three chapters of Genesis is a theological stockpile. It is the beginning and end of man where in between lies man’s only ray of hope that will eventually come through redemption in Jesus, the Messiah.

Well, perhaps this was a confession of my complete and utter ignorance as I journey through scripture. Regardless, I appreciate you taking the time to read. Feel free to comment below.

Pastor Pusch

4 Responses to “Kicked Out of Eden”

  • Darren Says:

    My take is that now man would be without excuse knowing good from evil as God does. Before their eyes were opened and they saw their nakedness they did not see things as good or evil, they only lived to love God. Once their eyes were opened they covered their nakedness, why? Most likely because of lust and sinful thoughts and desires. They did not become like God as a deity, but as knowing right from wrong. As we still do. Just my thoughts.

  • Bobby Says:

    This indeed is an important question. I do not know if I can give a definitive answer but I will try. I am not a Hebrew scholar but I have heard on more than one occasion an explanation that seems to make sense. It involves the original word translated “knowing” may also be translated something like…”deciding.” If that is true then the idea is that man removed God from His rightful place as the judge of good and evil and put himself on the throne as judge of good and evil. Again, if that is the case, man is still doing the same thing today. God had clearly differentiated the right thing to do from the wrong (not eating the fruit) yet man chose to make his own decision. Again, I am not a Hebrew scholar, you may want to do some more research on that, but it does seem to answer many questions. Take care.

  • Jon Brown Says:

    Eric, you raise a really good question that does not have an easy answer. This one passage could take up a number of doctoral dissertations (here is one: http://proquest.umi.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/pqdlink?did=2150922881&Fmt=2&rqt=309), and I have no doubt that we will never more than scratch the surface of this until after the Resurrection. I do have some thoughts on it though. The passage could be speaking of either ontological or epistemic knowledge (if I knew Hebrew verb for “knowing” being used here, I might be able to answer this more definitively), and I believe that the question hinges on who the “us” is in v. 22. If the “us” to whom God is speaking is the remainder of the godhead, then I believe the knowledge here would be epistemic. Adam and Eve, having broken God’s command, would now have an intellectual understanding of what it was to do wrong in a way that they did not have before. It is not possible to “know” what good and evil are unless they are offered in contrast to one another. Prior to their sin, Adam and Eve simply acted. An understanding that their actions were good could not have come until, after sin, they were given something to compare it to. This change in their intellectual understanding would have given them the same kind of moral differentiation that God has through his own, perfect, knowledge.

    If, on the other hand, God is speaking to the assembled angelic host, then I believe the the knowledge here could be ontological, having to do with the experience of doing evil that Adam and Eve would have gained. By this point, the war in heaven between the forces of God and Satan would have already occurred, and the angels would have experienced first hand the disastrous consequences of evil. Through their disobedience, Adam and Eve would now have the same experience, becoming like the angels in their experiential knowledge. Regardless of whether or not the “knowing” here has to do with their minds or their being, the consequences of this new knowledge are the same either way: separation of relationship from God and exile from the Garden.

    Of course, this is assuming that the events recounted in Genesis 1-3 are recorded literally. There is also a school of biblical interpretation that looks at most of the book of Genesis as allegorical in nature. In that school, the specific events recorded are not as important as the questions the story is trying to answer: from where did man come and why is it that men die? There is a lot to be said about that school, but I don’t really have enough understanding to do it any justice.

  • Joe Says:

    Hey Pusch –

    Good post. First of all, I think that the English translation of “good and evil” is very poor. First, we know that Adam and Eve had a free will to obey or disobey God’s commands prior to eating the fruit. 1 Timothy tells us that Adam chose to disobey (the woman was deceived, not the man). We also know that there was no concept of evil in the world (the way we think of it) when God gave the command. I think that the better interpretation for “good” would be those desires and purposes that bring pleasure to God (the same word translated for good is the same word God used to describe the world after he created it and the same word he use to describe man after creating him). I think that the better interpretation for “evil” would be those desires and purposes that solely bring pleasure to man.

    Before Adam chose to sin, Adam and Eve’s desires and purposes brought pleasure to God. However, upon choosing to disobey God, they opted for the desires and purposes that bring pleasure to man. Their “knowledge” was an intimate experience of the desires of the flesh that we still war with today (thus they covered themselves up and hid).

    We were made in the image of God. God understands and has intimate knowledge of our fleshly desires. However, God cannot sin so the desires and purposes of the trinity will always prevail over desires and purposes of man (God’s ways are not our ways). One day, those that are saved will be like God in that our desires and purposes will always line up with his and we will no longer be at war with our fleshly desires.

    When God says that, “the man has become like one of us”, I think that God is saying that the man realizes that there are desires that please God and desires that do not. God was concerned that if the man ate of the tree of life the man would be able to live forever pursuing the desires of the flesh. Physical death is the great equalizer – it puts a finite time horizon on how long someone can choose to pursue the desires of the flesh before they will face judgement.

    Notice Genesis 6:5 – “the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.” There’s that word again – if we think of it in terms of the thoughts of humans having nothing to do with the desires and purposes of God it makes more sense. Also notice that apart from the instructions – to not eat of tree of knowledge, to rule the earth and to be fruitful and multiply – until God’s instruction to Noah to build the ark, there weren’t any rules for the people to follow. God told Adam and Eve what life would be like. God told Cain what life would be like. There was no law.

    Pursuing the desires and purposes of our flesh instead of the desires and purposes of God’s will always hinder our relationship with God. Faith is trusting that God’s desires and purposes are better than our desires and purposes. That is why all people at all times have been saved by faith (Hebrews 11). As Jesus says, if we love him, we will do what he says.

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