After the fall, the Garden of Eden remained upon the earth long after man had been expelled from its pleasant atmosphere. But it was necessary to prevent man from continuing to partake of the fruit of the Tree of Life that is in the garden of Eden lest he becomes an immortal sinner. Through sin man had fallen under the power of death. Thus, the fruit that produced immortality could now do him only harm. Immortality in a state of sin, and thus of continuous pain, was not the life that the Lord planned for His children.
“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”— therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:22-24).
Denying man access to this life-giving tree was an act of divine mercy which Adam may not have fully understood at that time, but for which he will be grateful in the eternal kingdom. Fallen men and women were long permitted to look at the home of innocence but their entrance was forbidden by the watching angels or the cherubim that guarded the gate of Paradise.
It is possible that Adam and his sons came to worship God at the entrance of the Garden. There, they recommitted their lives to God and His commands, for disobedience caused them to be expelled from Eden. But when the tide of rebellion against God filled the world, and the evil of men determined their destruction by a flood of waters, the hand that had planted Eden withdrew it from the earth.
A memory of heavenly beings guarding the way to the tree of life in the garden of Eden is perhaps retained in the old Mesopotamian epic of Gilgamesh, who went out in search of the “herb of life,” or immortality. Of the place where the “herb of life” was to be found, the epic says that “scorpion men guard its gate, whose terror is fearful, whose beholding is death; their awesome glory throws down mountains.”
The New Earth
In the final restitution, when there shall be “a new heaven and a new earth” ( Revelation 21:1), the Garden of Eden will be restored more gloriously than at the beginning: “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” (Revelation 22:2).
In His service,