"God's Love in the Old Testament" - Chapter 12



Chapter 12: "Banning Mankind from the Garden (1)"




Chapter 12 – Banning Mankind from the Garden (1)


So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life (Gen 3:23,24)



Contents of Chapter 12

12.1 The Complaint Expressed

12.2 Affirming Genesis

12.3 The Existence and General Role of Satan

12.4 The Work of God through Satan in the Garden

12.5 Recapping God's Goodness

12.6 Brief Summary




12.1 The Complaint Expressed


The previous Part was all about laying down foundation stones of understanding for approaching the Old Testament. In this next Part we now move on to consider in detail specific things that happened in the Old Testament period which raise the ire of those who give little thought to these matters.


I have to warn you that if we want answers we need to look carefully and systematically at the Bible text, and therefore most of these situations will stretch over two chapters. For example, in the case of this first complaint, in this chapter we will pave the way by looking at all that led up to the exclusion from the Garden, and then in the next chapter we will consider the exclusion itself.


Put aside those who might write this off and deny Genesis is a part of history and let's face a claim that might arise from those who do accept it as part of history.

Very well, they say, you say this is a part of time-space history, but if that is true, doesn't it show God in a bad light. Here we have Adam and Eve who have been led astray by the serpent – who God must have created and allowed in the garden – so it wasn't really their fault!
Doesn't the Garden of Eden show God up in a bad light?


Then we see God dealing with them quite harshly and casting them out of His presence and out of the garden to get on with life alone. Wasn't He condemning them to failure right from the outset?


That is the complaint that could arise, and we'll need to consider it in detail, bit by bit.


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12.2 Affirming Genesis

We need to just check something out in passing, before we go on – the validity of these early chapters of Genesis.
Can we trust the Genesis account?


Although this part of the Old Testament, appears not to receive much attention from the atheists, for the sake of the Bible student we include it here as the first of the complaints against the claim that God is a God of love.


I am writing with the Christian student in mind in this chapter so that you will understand something more of your Lord's love. We have already very briefly touched on this in an earlier chapter but need to look more fully at what happened in the first few chapters of the Bible. There are some very profound issues here.


When approaching these early chapters of Genesis there are two things we need to acknowledge:

There are some things we are not able to be absolutely clear about.


The time frame for these early chapters is unclear. The assumption that was once made that Creation and the Fall took place only five thousand years ago did assume a lot and is almost certainly inaccurate.
Timing and dating of the Fall are almost impossible


Much of the thinking that brought that figure about, calculated ages of people given in the family trees that are found in the chapters of the Bible. The only problem about this is that it ignores the tendency of Semitic peoples to simply include names that they have who simply give an overall picture of the line but it is not meant to be a comprehensive list of people. Thus it is probable that there were many more people who could have been included in these lists.

The link between Adam and 'primitive man' is unclear
Likewise we cannot be certain, because we are not told, what connection there is with Adam and Eve (two historical figures) and other ‘creatures' who went before them – if there is any connection. That they were primitive people we can be sure.


How they come to be different, ‘made in the image of God' with all the differences from all other animals, as we've noted in an earlier chapter, is unclear because God hasn't told us. He simply claims to be the one who has made us in the form that we are and that we are clearly distinct from the animal kingdom.


If they are, as the Bible declares, the very first truly human beings, then logically ALL other human beings come from them – and the Bible asserts this. From what historians tell us, with fair measures of certainty, these original human being were very much earlier in the historical chain. (Look back to chapter 7 about History, to catch something of this.)

Sadly the history of archaeology, especially as it pertains to the history of bones, suggests that ‘scientists' have been notoriously bad at concocting ‘missing links' and jumping to wrong conclusions or even manufacturing evidence. The past is very unclear generally, based on massive assumptions.

There are things we can be clear about
What is often forgotten about the early chapters of Genesis is that they are remarkably coherent. Unlike mystical writings of the past, these early chapters almost come in note form but very clearly and systematically - and as history. Time frames are not given but events are.
The events of Genesis are written as clear, factual history


It would be very tempting to take up space talking about the different uses of the word, ‘day' and arguments for very long periods rather than 24 hour periods in creation but we'll leave that for others.


Simply here we have certain specifics laid out:

  •  God made the world in an order.
  •  At the end of that order were human beings who were different from the animal kingdom.
  •  The first two of these ‘new creatures' – ‘made in the image of God' as we noted in one of the earlier chapters - interacted with God in a geographical location that fits in with our knowledge of early history as being ‘the cradle of civilisation'.
  •  They also interacted with another creature who communicates the idea of disobedience to God to them, which they follow with ‘interesting' consequences, which we will look at later.
  •  Everything about this says it was a clearly defined geographical location at a specific and significant period of history.
  •  We have nothing in history to deny this, only our own godless inclinations.


It is possible that the atheists ignore what happened here because they listen to liberal theologians who start from a materialistic base and who have suggested that this was myth and never happened. Now if we are students of the Bible with integrity, we do not start from our own presuppositions, but simply take at face value what is before us and assess it objectively. This we will seek to do.


We can consider the validity of these early chapters of Genesis in two ways:

i) We can consider what the rest of the Bible says about the things in Genesis.

ii) We can consider what they teach us and wonder if there is any other way we can learn these things.


i) What the rest of the Bible says about the early chapters Genesis


a) Creation

  •  Chapters 1 & 2 explain all about Creation
  •  Abraham refers to God as Creator (Gen 14:22)
  •  Moses spoke of Him as Creator (Deut 32:6)
  •  The psalms speak of His creating work in an historical sense (see Psa 136)
  •  Solomon referred to His creating works (see Prov 8)
  •  The prophets spoke of Him as Creator (e.g. Isa 40:28)
  •  In the N.T. the apostle John starts with this (Jn 1:3)
  •  The apostle Paul taught it (e.g. Col 1:16)
  •  At the end, the Revelation of John still declares it (see Rev 4:11)


b) Adam and Eve as historical figures

  •  Scholar Luke takes his genealogy of Jesus back to Adam (Lk 3:38)
  •  Paul clearly taught about Adam in an historical context (see Rom 5:14, 1 Cor 15:22,45, 1 Tim 2:13,14)
  •  Jude also made historical reference to Adam (Jude 1:14)
  •  Similarly Paul refers to Eve (see 2 Cor 11:3, 1 Tim 2:13)


c) Satan – as the Serpent

  •  The Gospel writers refer to Satan (e.g. Mt 4:10, Mk 1:13 etc.)
  •  Jesus referred to Satan (e.g. Mt 12:26, Lk 10:18, 13:16 etc.)
  •  Paul referred to his activity here (2 Cor 11:3)


d) Other figures from the early chapters

  •  Several of the N.T. writers identify Cain in historical contexts (see Heb 11:4, 1 Jn 3:12, Jude 1:11)
  •  Ditto Abel (see Mt 23;35, Lk 11:51, Heb 11:4, 12:24 )
  •  Luke identified Enoch (see Lk 3:37) as did the writer to the Hebrew (Heb 11:5) and Jude (Jude 1:14)
  •  Jesus referred to Noah and the flood in an historical context (Mt 24:37,38)


Bear all these examples in mind and remember Paul's description of the Old Testament: God-breathed” (2 Tim 3:16)


ii) The lessons from these passages


Remove the early chapters of Genesis (and the many other references to them that we have briefly mentioned above) and we have no understanding

  • about how the world came to be, and are left with chance and meaninglessness,
  • of the nature of the world as God made it – perfect,
  • of how it came to change – the Fall,
  • of the responsibilities of mankind,
  • of the work of Satan,
  • of the wonder of God's love, grace and mercy here.


Is this, perhaps, the reason there has been such an attack on these chapters by materialistic, atheistic liberals?

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12.3 The Existence and General Role of Satan

So what about Satan? Why did God make him and why did He allow him into the Garden of Eden? A wider reading of the Bible clearly indicates that this serpent that we find in Genesis 3 is indeed Satan, a fallen angel. Why did God make angels if He knew that some of them would rebel against Him and be cast out of heaven?
Understanding Satan's role in the Bible essential


For the sake of space I will not justify these descriptions of what happened, which are there in scripture, but simply move on to consider the ‘why' of it all. If you are not a Christian and not concerned with Satan's role in God's plans, you may want to jump to the end of this section – but please note the conclusion at the end.

It is clear from the Bible that God USES Satan for His own purposes. The following are some of those purposes as shown in the Bible
Realise God USES Satan


You will need to look up each of the references in your own Bible to catch the full meaning.

1. To reveal men's hearts

  •  1 Chron 21:1 Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel – he was to reveal David's underlying sin of pride – in the parallel verses (2 Sam 24:1) it is seen as God who was behind it (to deal with the sin).


2. To bring judgement on unbelievers

  •  Rev 9:11  They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon. (both names mean “Destroyer”).


3. To bring discipline to believers

  •  1 Cor 5:5 by putting this sinful believer out of the church's protection, it enabled Satan to come against him and humble him and bring him to repentance.


4. To subjugate unbelievers

  •  1 Jn 5:19b the whole world is under the control of the evil one.
  •  Satan is allowed to rule where there is unconfessed sin, i.e. over unbelievers.


5. To maintain humility in our lives

  •  One of the key things God does with his children is to seek to develop character in them.  As pride is always lurking, sometimes God allows us to be attacked so that we maintain our reliance upon Him and realise that of ourselves we are nothing.
  •  2 Cor. 12:7 Because Paul received wonderful revelations from God, to keep him from getting puffed up, he was given a thorn in the flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment him and keep him from getting proud.


6. To develop faith & righteousness in our lives

  •  Faith is one of the key elements God wants to develop in our lives, and so often He does this by allowing us to encounter trying circumstances where our faith is both revealed and developed.  Similarly, such testing times are to reveal and bring about greater righteousness within us.
  •  1 Peter 1:7 – trials are testings, and testings reveal our faith – such revelation of our faith brings honour in heaven.
  •  1 Peter 5:8-9 – Satan seeks to attack us, but we are to learn to resist.
  •  2 Peter 1:4-8 – the testing of our faith develops our lives in many ways.


7. To bring about trials whereby we can be rewarded

  •  These trials, that involve Satan, make us rely upon God, His word and His Spirit and so the outcome of the battles we fight is that we appreciate Him, His word and His Spirit more and more.
  •  James  1:12  God blesses the people who patiently endure testing – testing develops us and God blesses through it.
  •  1 John 2:13,14 – it is a battle with Satan which we can win with God's word, and as we battle we rely on that word more and more.
  •  1 John 4:1-6 – our battle is also with Satan's agents; we are to overcome in the mind and we overcome by the Holy Spirit within us, as we overcome we realise the wonder of who it is within us more and more.
  •  Rev. 2:17 – our reward, as we overcome Satan's attacks, will be intimacy with Christ.
  •  Rev. 2:26-28 – as we obey Jesus and have the victory so he is preparing us to take authority, both in this world and the next.


8. To teach us how to fight

  •  As we face such trials we learn how to overcome.
  •  Judges 3:2  God did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience.
  •  Israel  grew in their knowledge of the Lord and how to fight as they opposed the enemy. We do the same in the spiritual sphere.


9. To demonstrate God's power over the enemy

  •  We need reminding who is who in the battle. Jesus IS Lord!
  •  Eph  3:10   His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made  known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.
  •  As we triumph God is glorified in the heavens.
  •  Mk 1:21-27 As Jesus cast out a demon God was glorified.
  •  Acts 13:6-12 As Saul triumphs over Elymas God was glorified.

So, to reiterate, it is clear from the Bible that God USES Satan for His own purposes, and they are mostly corrective! Remember that is the primary goal behind much of God's dealings with sinful men – to correct them, bring them to their senses, so they return to a place of relationship with God where they can receive His blessing. We'll see later how significant that blessing is.

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12.4 The Work of God through Satan in the Garden


Recap: God uses Satan

 Although Satan was apparently not created for these express purposes, God takes and uses his rebellion for His purposes. As Joseph once said to his brothers who had intended to harm him:

 Gen 50:20 “You intended to harm me but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

 Thus it is that in this fallen world where Sin dominates, Satan is allowed access for the sake of God's overall purposes. The story of Job is the classic instance of this.


The supreme overriding principle that comes out in these considerations, and which complies completely with what we have suggested in Chapter 10 when discussing the judgment of God, is that God uses Satan to bring correction to a faulty situation.
God used Satan in Eden to reveal weaknesses


Satan ‘used' in Eden

So why was Satan allowed access to the Garden of Eden and to Eve? If God uses him, what was God aiming to do through him here? It was, we suggest, to reveal a number of things, which come out in chapter 3 of Genesis:

  •  the fact that we have the capability to make responsible choices,
  •  the fact that our choices have consequences which we have to live with,
  •  the vulnerability of the hearts of Eve & Adam to temptation,
  •  the immaturity of the couple who had not yet learned to rely upon God,
  •  their taking for granted the love of God which they had experienced in abundance, and
  •  their immaturity and inability to take responsibility, but instead make excuses.


(The same things apply equally to us today!)


Thus when the temptation comes, when Satan came with improper and faulty suggestions to her:

  •  Eve did not respond with a reference to offending God who clearly loved them so much, and
  •  Eve did not call to God for help.


When God appeared later on, they hid and did not openly come to Him acknowledging what had happened. Of course God knew this, but Adam and Eve and future generations (right up to this minute) needed to face the truth which is that without God:

  •  we are vulnerable to getting it wrong and
  •  not strong enough to resist temptation AND
  •  we take God's love for granted!


One way or another, we aren't revealed in a very good light!


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12.5 Recapping God's Goodness


We need to take a few steps back if we are to catch something of the reality of this situation. To appreciate something of the awfulness of what happened, we need to look again at God's goodness.
Recognise God's goodness in Eden


Consider God's provision for mankind:


Gen 1:31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.


If God's assessment of the world He had made was that is was “very good” then it was VERY good! And this was after the account of how He brought into being the world we know:


Gen 1:27 Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.


To our possible surprise, God's original provision for mankind was that they should eat from natural products – NOT meat. But He speaks about EVERY plant and fruit and the implication is what modern biologists and horticulturalists tell us, that there are incredible numbers and varieties of edible plant life. It was an abundant provision. But the provision didn't stop there. In chapter 2 there is further explanation and more is said about this provision:


Gen 2:9 And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground--trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food


We perhaps take this food provision for granted, so used are we to it, but note the description: pleasing to the eye and good for food.” There is nothing ‘grey' about this provision; it is lavish, abundant, colourful and good! But it is not only food in the provision from God. He made man but then…


Gen 2:18 The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him."

God has a social concern for the man on his own – he needs company, he needs someone to complement him – so the Lord creates Eve. We also see later on that God Himself visited the couple daily; they knew His presence with them.
Everything about God's provision in Eden was excellent!


Everything about this says that God couldn't have done any more in His good provision for them. He has made them in His own image which, we saw in chapter 4, meant that He gave them the abilities to communicate, think, plan, reason, invent, create, write, work, order, purpose and enter into the fullness of what they were designed to be, or put another way, He has given us self-consciousness, imagination and conscience, and ability.


The conclusion of this brief consideration is that God's love was clearly revealed to Adam and Eve through His wonderful provision for them in so many ways:

•  the capabilities He gave them,

•  the environment He created for them to enjoy,

•  each other, and

•  His very own presence with them every day.


Now try and grasp that and hold on to that, for it is often forgotten in considerations about the Fall which we'll go onto in the next chapter.


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12.6 Brief Summary


In this chapter we have seen:


12.1 The Complaint Expressed

  • the complaint about God abandoning Adam and Eve is expressed

12.2 Affirming Genesis

  • we affirmed the early chapters of Genesis as part of the sacred canon of Scripture

12.3 The Existence and General Role of Satan

  • we noted how God makes general use of Satan

12.4 The Work of God through Satan in the Garden

  • we observed Satan's role in the Garden of Eden

12.5 Recapping God's Goodness

  • we reminded ourselves of God's clearly observed goodness before the Fall.



This chapter took us through the events leading up to the Fall in preparation for, in the next chapter, examining the effects of the Fall and why God HAD to cast Adam and Eve out of it.



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