The Mercy of God

Genesis 3:22-23 (ESV)

“Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken.”

Mercy, by its definition, refers to not receiving some type of punishment or harm that we richly deserve. Grace, on the other hand is something we do receive, yet have no right to receive it.

God’s mercy is on full display throughout Scripture and there are many oft-quoted verses that showcase His suspension of righteous wrath in favor of kindness and mercy. Just look at Psalm 25:6-7; Deuteronomy 4:31; 2 Samuel 2:26; Titus 3:4-6; Ephesians 2:4-5; 1 Timothy 1:16 as just a few examples. The restoration of Peter by Jesus, the many healings performed by our Lord, and the transformation of the persecutor Saul are a just couple of examples of God's mercy on display.

But it is early in the Bible where we see His mercy most evident in a couple of verses that otherwise might go unnoticed by many of us.

The sin of Adam and Eve gave them knowledge of what is good and evil, but this sin also left them in such fallen state that living forever in such a condition would be a tragedy. In other words, this sin produced a depravity that would make them incapable of living up to God’s righteous requirements and would keep them from ever having true fellowship with Him again.

So, we see a couple of things here. One, it becomes clear that a Redeemer must come to intercede on our behalf so we can become righteous to God once again and, two, it is a wonderful example of the mercy of God that He did not allow Adam and Eve to eat from the Tree of Life for in doing so physical death would then come to all mankind, instead of perpetually being in a state of sin and corruption.

The banishment of Adam and Eve from the Garden was God’s love for mankind at its highest. For this banishment brought the Cross of Calvary into existence and through the finished work of Jesus Christ, we now have the promise of a renewal of physical and spiritual purity (1 Corinthians 15:50) that will find us eating from the Tree of Life someday in the New Jerusalem, in the very presence of God (Revelation 22:1-2).

Adam and Eve did move east away from God, but in His infinite mercy He brought about a way for mankind to find their way back to Him.