22 “And the Lord God said, ‘The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”
“become like one of us” Though scholarly opinion differs, I don’t think ‘us’ is to be identified with the heavenly court in general, but is the same as ‘us’ back in 1:26 — a seminal reference to the Trinitarian nature of the divine being. ‘Seminal’ in the sense that biblical revelation has a tendency to at first drop seeds or hints of truth that, as revelation progresses, the light gradually becomes fuller or more developed until at last in the NT the truth matures. Thus, the truth in the OT is fully truth (so far as it goes), but not truly full (especially at the beginning of the stream, but in the NT the truth disclosed is fuller). That is what we mean by the phrase the progress of revelation. First, an eye dropper, then a cup, and at last a hose or fulsome stream of better light.
“become like one of us” Man was made in the image and likeness of the Godhead, but remember what this does (and doesn’t) mean:
“What does the phrase ‘image and likeness of God’ mean? By adding ‘likeness’ (Genesis 1:26), Moses indicates that this does NOT mean an exact one. Not ‘a little god,’ as heretical charismatics (esp. NAR) teach. Rather, a divinely designed similarity, including an ability to commune with God.”
“knowing good and evil” – Man had transitioned from a state of innocence where, like infants, he was for good reason unaware of the presence of evil. All was good until the Serpent entered his realm and his moral consciousness was awakened (no longer dormant) to the polar opposites. And he had chosen the worse (evil) as the better part. A fatal choice that disconnected him from eternal life that had been within his reach had he chosen good (eating of the tree of life).
“He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”
To deny our original parents the gift of continuous eternal life is not hard to understand. That consequence is penalty of their sin, for the wages of sin was (and remains) everlasting death. But inasmuch as that life is a gift of God, for God is the source of everlasting life, it puzzles that eternal life seems to be a benefit that God has imparted to the tree itself, which benefit is inherited by those to partake of the fruit of the tree.
In that case, I am compelled to conclude that God as He wills, can impart life-giving or healing properties to anything he pleases (e.g. figs in the case of Hezekiah’s boil, manna in the wilderness (a type of the Bread of Life, namely, Christ, the waters of the Jordan (Naaman), the pool of Siloam (the blind man of John 9), etc.
To cut off Adam and Eve from access to the tree of life vested with the power of imparting everlasting life (i.e. living forever) was a severe mercy. Why? Because fallen man would have been destined to live forever, but imprisoned irredeemably in spiritual death as a consequence of sin.