Genesis 3:22 Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— 23 therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken.
The Issue: Doesn't this verse speak of God's fear of man? God was threatened by man, so much so that He limited Him so that man could never be as God.
On the surface some people might take the above verse and use it to support the notion that God can't be real because He is contradictory. Additionally, people will say that God is afraid of man. They'll say that God was threatened by man when man ate of the tree of knowledge because as it says in the verse, "the man has become like one of Us." In a sense, God isn't being fair, He is limiting man.....or is He?
Let me ask you, what is God saying? Before we continue I think it's important for us as Christians to really consider where we stand with God. I am a huge proponent of you coming to the conclusion on your own. While insight from others is awesome, never neglect the need to first read the verse on your own and honestly ask yourself how it speaks to you. If you don't understand, ask the Spirit to reveal it to you. Trust me, the Holy Spirit is in the business of revealing Scripture to us (John 16:13), we just have to be willing to seek and get honest with God. Don't ever think you can hide your emotions or doubts from God, the bible is very clear on God's omniscience and Jesus makes it clear to us that anything and everything that is concealed will be revealed in the end (Matt 10:26). Proverbs 15:11 "Hell and Destruction are before the LORD; so how much more the hearts of the sons of man" Meaning, God sees right into hell and He knows what is going on down their, how much more then can He see through the hearts of men?
I know the above is a tangent, however, it is so important that we get honest with God. The man in Mark 9:24 got real honest with Jesus, and because he was honest, the end result was Jesus shaking his life up! The Spirit will reveal things to you (Rom 8:26-27), check out the beautiful picture in Mark 4:34. If the above verse troubles you, get alone with God and pray. We are all called to know the word of truth so that we can properly divide truth (2 Tim 2:15).
Getting back to topic, let's establish a few things about the tough stuff before we go on. One of the things I always tell people is to focus on the absolutes. Absolutes? Yeah, those things which are clear cut and black&white. The clear cut helps us decipher the gray parts of scripture. The above verse would be considered gray; so to better understand it we need to properly put it all into context, understand the scene, compare it to the nature of God, and consider that the verse is 1 of 31,173 verses. Never consider one verse alone, always compare scripture to scripture, else you'll do things like say God creates evil, or say Jesus isn't God.
Let's first establish some absolutes consistent with what Scripture says of God, then we'll see what else is happening, then tackle the issues and get rocked by the Spirit of God.
1. The beginning and the end (Isaiah 44:6, Rev 22:13, Isaiah 48:12, John 1:1)
2. The One and Only (Isaiah 44:8, Deut 4:35, 1 Sam 2:2, Isaiah 45:5)
3. The Creator of all Things (Col 1:16-17, Heb 3:4, John 1:1-3, Isaiah 44:24-28, Isaiah 45:11-13)
4. The Only One who is to be feared (Isaiah 8:13, Luke 12:4, Matt 10:28)
5. Love (2 Cor 13:11, Col 1:13, The Bible)
6. Loaded with mercy that is made new everyday (Lam 3:22-24, Exodus 34:6, Isaiah 33:2, Isaiah 55:7)
7. God is a just Judge (Psalm 7:11, Isaiah 30:18, James 1:17, Isaiah 61:8, 1 John 1:9)
These are just a few of the many absolutes of God that I think will help us in figuring this whole thing out. Now stop. I really want you to read through each verse listed (Be a Berean Acts 17:11!) and see for yourself. Don't just go on my word. Go to the Word of God and see it for yourself. I really want you to learn, as I myself am learning, to not just go with what man says, but to go with what God says. It helps you grow and it keeps me accountable. Not to mention when the bombs start dropping you'll be ready!
Let's now set the scene to get some context. Mankind has just sinned against God by eating of the tree of knowledge. The curse has just been put onto the world and mankind is still in the garden. After mankind was cursed and clothed by God, God said to Himself that man had "become like one of Us" (we'll save the "Us" discussion for another blog, but yes, this is the trinity). What does God mean when He says like one of Us? Read on, it says "to know good and evil." After this, God puts mankind outside of the garden, lest he "put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever."
Now that we have other scripture to help and some context, let's get to it! So is God afraid of man? Not at all, in fact according to Luke 12:4, the only One we should fear is the One who can destroy the soul of man, that would be God. Seeing as God can do that, it is impossible for Him to fear the very Creation He Himself (because Jesus was speaking in Luke 12:4) can destroy with a word (see Rev 19....it is siiiiick!). It is His word that holds us together (Heb 1:3) not to mention that if God is the One and Only, He is the Creator of all things and is the Alpha and Omega, how could someone that majestic, that glorious, that powerful, the Creator of all things good, all things holy, all things just, all things pure, be in any way, shape or form subject to fear? Given His character and nature, it would be foolish to make such a comment. Let me also add this. Someone reading this might say "Well that is according to the bible, and how narrow-minded to use the bible alone to support arguments about the bible." To you I say this with as much love as possible: If I want to learn about Columbus, I won't look in a cook book to learn of his voyage. I'll look at a book written by witnesses of the voyage, seeing as I wasn't there to see him sail, or better yet, a book written by Columbus himself. Seeing as God wrote the bible (2 Tim 3:16, Psalm 138:2, Heb 3:7, 2 Peter 1:16-21, 1 Cor 15:3-4, Heb 4:12-13)
What did God mean when He said "man has become like one of Us?" Well, God, being the all knowing God He is, knows what good and evil are. The second man sinned, the knowledge of good and evil entered into the world. In a sense then, man became like God, knowing good and evil. The problem is, where God can do no evil (James 1:13-17, Psalm 7:11) man can. Additionally, keep something in mind, because God knows good and evil, and because God is who He is, He is the ultimate judge. He is the moral lawgiver who has given us the law (Exodus 33-34), His law, to show us how desperately we need forgiveness.
Because God is a just judge, He has to judge good and evil. Because man now knew good and evil, He therefore must judge man. Man must therefore die in order that He might judge man (and because death was in the curse). But where does God's love come in on all this? Check this out. He says something so important in verse 22, to understand it, shatters me. Man is now sinning. Should man eat of the tree of life (which we know from Rev 22:2 has serious healing powers) he would live forever. Should man live forever at this point, man would live forever in sin, something God won't have. Why? Because He loves us. Because sin separates us from God, and if man were to live eternally in sin in the garden, man would be separated from God, and we would never be able to come into that perfect relationship with Him (heaven....it is going to be awesome!)
God loves us so much and has so much mercy that not only did He take us out of the garden instead of killing us all (serious mercy), He provided for mankind by sacrificing an animal to clothe man (verse 21 and the rest of the bible) and He ultimately provided for man's eternal salvation through the sacrifice of His Only Son. Don't you see? God poured out His love. Mankind was walking in the presence of God and yet we still sinned. Yet, His saving grace is so much greater than the slavery of sin. His love abounds so much more than our sin ever will.
He is greater than he who is in the world. He conquered the power of sin and the sting of death (Hebrews 2:14-16). Talk about unending love. In a sense, death is nothing more than a butler, as Paul put it, "to live is Christ and to die is gain." Not to look lightly on death, but let's be realistic, knowing we have salvation in Christ, death really does lose its sting. Rather than wipe us out, He redeems us, He restores us. God is all about redeeming. Why does God do that for wretched man, I don't know, but I'll take it with tears of joy in my eyes and a heart so melted by this love that to think about it, melts my mind and causes me to want to do nothing but worship Him. I would kiss His feet for eternity given the opportunity (first think I'm doing when I get to heaven...Kiss His feet for a few eternities).
So in all this, why would God allow man to sin. I mean, being the all powerful God He is, He could have stopped us. Yeah He could have, but where is the love in that. Know something, God wasn't absent when man was tempted, nor was He oblivious to what was going on. He knew the whole time. He didn't stop us because He wanted us to have something called free-will. That thing that allows us to CHOOSE who we will serve. God will not force Himself on us, He wants a relationship. If we didn't have the choice to love Him, we would all be robots. How much more love is that? That God would be so long suffering, that He would give us free will, knowing some aren't going to choose Him, having to deal with years of grievance until that day that we choose Him. How much crazy love do you have to have to do that? How amazing is that?!?!?! That God would suffer long just to have a one on one with each and everyone of us that chooses. He wants a one on one with everyone (2 Peter 3:9). He is sooooo gooood!
When you marry someone, you first build a relationship with them so that upon marriage, you can take your relationship to the next level. You choose to love them. You choose to spend time with them. You make them a priority. You make time for them. You put others things away or to the side or completely off so that you can be with them. All this is a choice. The same is true with God. He wants a relationship with us. He wants to walk and talk with us. To guide us and use us for His glory. He wants us to have a radical, on fire, no holds bar relationship with Him. He is interested in our every thought, our every decision, the very hairs on our head He knows by name. He knew us before we were born.
This life is short, a vapor as James puts it, this is not where we will remain. We are pilgrims. As John Stott puts it, life is a pilgrimage between "two states of nakedness" (See Job 1:21). Pilgrims, by definition are foreigners. In Christ, we are foreigners to this world, in it but not of it. Don't ever live for the temporary, live for the eternal joy that is Christ. Your joy will last only as long as the thing in which it is derived. Base it on the temporary, and it will be just that, temporary. Base it on Christ, prepare for the flood of love and grace He WILL pour out on you.
God is so good to us, more than we will ever know. We will never amount to the kind of people that He deserves to worship Him (Relient K, Getting into You), however, He clothes us with the righteousness of Christ so that when He sees us, He doesn't see our sin, He sees His Son, who gave His life as a ransom for many. Since the beginning, God has been in the business of mercy, love and grace. He has always had a plan for us. He didn't have to create you or me, but He did. Your every breath should be spent worshiping Him in everything you do. It melts my heart to know that the God of the universe is taking time right now to love on me and hold me in His arms. If that isn't enough to move you to an utter abandonment of yourself and a full surrender to Him, then I don't know what will. He redeemed you for eternity, He brought you out of Egypt, the only thing keeping you from the Promised Land is you...