The Garden Of Eden – Myths & Truths: Why did God have the cherubim guard just the East Side of Eden? What about the Tree of Good & Evil and The Tree Of Life?

“And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”
Genesis 2:8-9

Why did God have the cherubim guard just the East Side of Eden?

Genesis 3:24 says, “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.” According to this verse, only one side of Eden was guarded—the east side. Was it possible for Adam and Eve to have sneaked in another way?

Part of understanding this passage is a consideration of the Hebrew perspective regarding directions. The Jewish people listed directions starting with “east,” unlike Western cultures that typically list the compass points starting with “north.” To say “at the east of the Garden of Eden” could have been a reference to the edge of Eden. Though this is not definitive, it appears to fit the context of the passage.

In addition, the presence of the sword-bearing cherubim stresses that Adam and Eve were forcefully expelled from the Garden of Eden. The word cherubim is plural, indicating several angelic beings, either on the eastern side or the edge of the Garden, who completely blocked the way to the tree of life. The added facts that the sword was flaming and “turned every way” (which might mean that each angel had a sword) also emphasize the strong security God had provided. There was no possibility that Adam and Eve or any other person could later reach the tree of life.

Another possibility may be that guarding the “east side” of Eden is related to Genesis 2:8, which says, “And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.” If Eden was in the east, then guarding “the east” would make sense. In this interpretation, guarding the east means to guard the area where Eden was located.

Either way, the emphasis is that God completely protected the tree of life from any humans who would approach it. Whether the intended idea is protecting “the edge” or protecting “the location” of Eden, God’s Word emphasizes that Adam and Eve were removed from the Garden of Eden, unable to return.

The Bible mentions the tree of life again, when it shows up in the new heaven with the Lord. Revelation 22:1-3a notes, “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed.”

At the end of time, God’s people will experience the blessings of a restored creation and renewed access to the tree of life.

Why did God put The Tree Of Knowledge Of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden?

God put the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden to give Adam and Eve a choice to obey Him or disobey Him. Adam and Eve were free to do anything they wanted, except eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:16-17, “And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.’” If God had not given Adam and Eve the choice, they would have essentially been robots, simply doing what they were programmed to do. God created Adam and Eve to be “free” beings, able to make decisions, able to choose between good and evil. In order for Adam and Eve to truly be free, they had to have a choice.

There was nothing essentially evil about the tree or the fruit of the tree. It is unlikely that the fruit, in and of itself, gave Adam and Eve any further knowledge. That is, the physical fruit may have contained some vitamin C and some beneficial fiber, but it was not spiritually nutritious. However, the act of disobedience was spiritually deleterious. That sin opened Adam’s and Eve’s eyes to evil. For the first time, they knew what it was to be evil, to feel shame, and to want to hide from God. Their sin of disobeying God brought corruption into their lives and into the world. Eating the fruit, as an act of disobedience against God, was what gave Adam and Eve the knowledge of evil—and the knowledge of their nakedness (Genesis 3:6–7).

God did not want Adam and Eve to sin. God knew ahead of time what the results of sin would be. God knew that Adam and Eve would sin and would thereby bring evil, suffering, and death into the world. Why, then, did God allow Satan to tempt Adam and Eve? God allowed Satan to tempt Adam and Eve to force them to make the choice. Adam and Eve chose, of their own free will, to disobey God and eat the forbidden fruit. The results—evil, sin, suffering, sickness, and death—have plagued the world ever since. Adam and Eve’s decision results in every person being born with a sin nature, a tendency to sin. Adam and Eve’s decision is what ultimately required Jesus Christ to die on the cross and shed His blood on our behalf. Through faith in Christ, we can be free from sin’s consequences, and ultimately free from sin itself. May we echo the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 7:24-25, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

What is the meaning of The Tree Of life?

The tree of life, mentioned in the books of Genesis and Revelation, is a life-giving tree created to enhance and perpetually sustain the physical life of humanity. The tree was planted by God in the Garden of Eden: “The LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:9). The centrally located tree of life would have been easily accessible to Adam and Eve from any point in the garden.

More details concerning the tree of life come after Adam and Eve’s sin: “The LORD God said, ‘The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever’” (Genesis 3:22). In his disobedience, Adam lost his eternal life. The tree of life in Eden must have had some role to play in maintaining the life of Adam and Eve (and possibly the animals). Adam would “live forever,” even in his fallen condition, if he had eaten the tree of life after his sin. God placed a sword-wielding cherub at the entrance to the garden specifically “to guard the way to the tree of life” (verse 24). It seems access to the tree of life would have prolonged Adam’s physical life indefinitely, dooming him to an eternity in a cursed world.

It was a mercy that God kept us from the tree of life. By barring access to the tree of life, God showed compassion in His omniscience. Knowing that, because of sin, earthly life would be filled with sorrow and toil, God graciously limited the number of years men would live. To live eternally in a sinful state would mean endless agony for humanity, with no hope of the relief that comes with death. By limiting our lifespan, God gives us enough time to come to know Him and His provision for eternal life through Christ but spares us the misery of an endless existence in a sinful condition.

In His great love, God provided One who would redeem fallen mankind. Through one man, Adam, sin entered the world, but through another Man, Jesus Christ, redemption through the forgiveness of sin is available to all (Romans 5:17). Those who avail themselves of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross will be resurrected to see the tree of life again, for it stands in the middle of the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, where it bears “twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:2). In the eternal state, the curse will be no more (verse 3), access to the tree of life will be reinstated, and darkness will be forever banished (verse 5). Eden will be restored.

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