Genesis 3:23-24 When God Isn’t Loving, But He Is Fair

Genesis 3:23-24   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.

Genesis 3:23–24 is one of those passages that those who don’t know Christ love to point at and excitedly say, “See! I told you that God isn’t the loving Father you made him out to be! If God’s so loving, then why would he kick Adam and Eve out of Eden?

The truth is they actually have a point

I mean the Lord is being very unloving with Adam and Eve in this passage. The word “drove” in verse twenty-four gives the idea of forcing someone to leave with force, and for good measure an angel with a sword of fire was left to guard the Garden of Eden.

Reading these verses by themselves we would have no choice but agree with their statement that God isn’t loving…and in a deeper sense that He isn’t fair. This is actually a bigger deal than it may seem since God doing wrong would mean He isn’t Holy (perfect) which is a foundational belief for Christians.

So how do we answer this question? By looking at the larger passage of Scripture [1] or “context” as its commonly referred to

Just like taking one statement a person made in a long conversation could lead to misundestanding, taking one part of a Bible passage almost always results in confusion. So lets take a step back and look at all of Genesis chapter three shall we?

  1. Eve is tempted by Satan to rebel against God by eating forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:1)
  2. Even tells Satan that she couldn’t eat the fruit because it would lead to death (Genesis 3:2–3)
  3. Satan tells Eve God is being unfair, and she along with Adam decide to rebel by eating the fruit (Genesis 3:4–6)
  4. The moment after rebelling they were overwhelmed with guilt and shame because of their sin (Genesis 3:7–8) and hide from God
  5. When God gives Adam and Eve opportunities to repent of their sin they refuse to, and just blame each other instead (Genesis 3:8–13)
  6. God responds by cursing Adam and Eve (3:16–20) and casting them out of Eden (3:22–24)

In the midst of this chapter a clear truth comes out…Adam and Eve knew they had done something wrong

This is why they covered themselves

And hid from God behind a tree

And refused to confess their sin

Blaming someone else instead

My point is God isn’t just randomly throwing Adam and Eve out of the garden for no reason. He was bringing to them the consequences of their actions; consequences that they clearly understood were coming [2]

In other words what we see here is part of the normal parent/authority figure-child relationship that’s experienced every day, and in no way seen as cruel or mean.

 

 

As someone who works with children a lot I’ve developed a set of rules commonly referred to as “Mr. John’s Rules” [3] and review them all the time. The thing I love about these rules is it allows the children to pretty much discipline themselves.

After bringing a child to a chair apart from a group I will get down on one knee (looking them directly in the eyes) and have a conversation that goes something like this

Me: So what’s going on today?
Child: I’m mad
Me: Okay what are you mad about?
Child: (child’s name) kept talking to me
Me: Oh I see…now help me remember…what do we do when someone keeps talking to us?
Child: We raise our hand and ask the teaching to move them or us
Me: Did you do that?
Child: (looking down) no
Me: Okay so that’s why your going to stay here for five minutes

 

 

Do you see how the child before even sitting down KNEW what he had done wrong? There was a part of him that knew even before I asked him to go to the back he wasn’t supposed to talk to the other student. Notice that in the same way Adam and Eve aren’t dragged kicking and screaming out of the garden. This is because they KNEW that eating the fruit was act of rebellion against God!

The fact is God brings to use true justice…not the kind that we desire [4] but justice that flows out of His true Holiness and perfection. So there are many excuses we can make when the judgment of God comes upon us (I wasn’t ready, you aren’t being loving, etc), but we can never say that it isn’t fair.

 

[1]: paragraph before and after that passage, the chapter it’s included in

[2]: Gen. 2:15   The LORD God took the man kand put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil lyou shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

[3]: I use ones learned from the Good News Club Ministry…Sit Up, Hand Up, Look Up, and Zip Up

[4]: I get rewarded even though I didn’t obey

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