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: 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.
So, something Satan said was true. This knowledge that came from disobeying God in the one thing that was forbidden to them gave man the understanding to oppose God and hinder that fellowship they had with Him. The essence of human knowledge is and has always been an attempt to overthrow God’s will. It was God’s desire that man till the ground but man created cities, which we will discuss later, and a great many employments and diversions not given by God. Scientific knowledge that results in medical and social advances is designed to either overthrow God’s organization of life or to “improve” upon it. That is not to say that it would be Godly now to abandon modern medicine and move to the wilderness any more than realizing that your divorce and remarriage were a sin so you should make the situation worse by abandoning your current spouse and children. It is just to say that this is part of our nature now, not to look to God as the source of our health and life but to look to our knowledge. I suspect, though, that when we think that we have prolonged our life by exercise (which I enjoy immensely) or healthy eating we may be fooling ourselves and that we do not or cannot thwart God’s will. The fact is that once a person reaches 50 he has the same odds of living longer as a man or woman in 1960 as life expectancy then was brought down by infant and child death which is what we have done well in abating on the one hand but with abortion have rendered almost meaningless. If abortion were factored in, which we would never do, there probably isn’t much difference between life expectancy in 1900 and now.
A human being, tainted by sin, deteriorating with each generation, who lived forever in that state would, after a time, be quite a hideous creature indeed. The choice was to obey God and live forever or disobey God and die. Even a physical body as those persons living on earth in eternity will have will need of the regenerative powers of the tree of life that God made for the renewing of their flesh but partaking of that tree will only be permitted when sin is not present. There is some argument as to who will need to partake of the tree of life. Some dispensationalists say that only those people living on the earth will while others say that all of those who are given a “resurrection body” will, at least referring to those persons who are saved, not in the lake of fire.
Revelation 22:1 ¶ And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
In any event, the body we receive will be different than the one we walk about in now that is tainted by sin against God, as Paul emphasized.
1Corinthians 15:35 ¶ But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? 36 Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: 37 And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: 38 But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. 39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. 40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: 43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. 46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. 50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
The blessing of living in the Garden of Eden which God had made was now denied to man. He was cast out to try to extract a living from a cursed ground. Mankind was unable to reenter or, perhaps, even see the Garden of Eden. The word paradise is interesting to consider in this regard. We find it here;
Luke 23:43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
2Corinthians 12:4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
Revelation 2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
The word paradise comes from a Persian word for a park, a hunting preserve, a pleasure garden, in a manner of speaking. Eden, with its tree of life, is in Heaven itself now. There is no way for man to return to Eden or to a state of innocence before God without the redeeming work of Christ on the Cross and in the Resurrection.
The cherubims that prevented Adam and Eve or their descendants from returning to Eden are spiritual creatures, usually invisible to us, which are probably prototypes for types of beasts. In other words, life on earth is patterned after them. Read Ezekiel, chapters 1 and 10, and then Revelation 4 for descriptions. Clearly, there are animals in the spiritual world. For example, Elisha’s prayer in 2Kings 6:17 showed that, unseen to a person in his natural state, there were horses and chariots surrounding the city.
The flaming sword may represent the word of God, which is the key to eternal life in that all of the things we must believe for salvation are found in it and it is through it that God speaks to the Christian.
Ephesians 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged 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.
Some commentators bring up references to a representative of God standing with a drawn sword in his hand. However, since we cannot return to partake of something we cannot see and since that tree of life is now in Heaven itself that seems unlikely that the flaming sword is there now to keep us physically out. We have access to the tree of life by way of our acceptation of the promises found in God’s word, likened to a sword.