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The tree of life, referred to in Genesis, is the symbol of God's provision for immortality in the Garden of Eden. Of all the trees that were in the Garden of Eden, two were named for their great im...
As for me, the narrative in the garden of Eden about the tree of life and the tree of good and evil summarizes the basic foundation of the plan of God, from the beginning, and revealed what actually is the "gospel of the kingdom of God". Notice that Adam & Eve had a choice, viz., to "eat all in the garden including the fruit of the tree of life that will make them immortal but not that of the tree of good and evil, also in the midst of the garden, that will make them "like us", but when eaten they "will surely die"(Gen 2:9,16;3:3-5). As important as that forbidden fruit was, more disturbing was why Adam & Eve chose and prioritized that one, regardless, and risked the consequence of death by so doing? Why not the tree of life that would have made them immortal and be spirits like the angels and then afterwards the "wisdom fruit"? Obviously, God planned us to be "immortal" but not like the angels because the world to come will "not be subject to angels"(Heb 2:5). In contrast, to the "immortal fruit", "eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil" would make them "like Elohim"; so they wrongly thought and prioritized. They believed this lie from Satan that, even by violating that command "not to eat" the forbidden fruit, they would not die and continue to live in the garden of Eden so they can afterwards eat the " fruit of the tree of life". Hence, prioritizing "wisdom", the "knowledge of good and evil" over "tree of life". Elohim, being the omnipotent, omniscient and Creator/Word of all, their "desire" was understandable. But the action they took to be "like Elohim" was misplaced. God practically was saying, " this is not the way to be like me". The Serpent hoodwinked them into believing a lie that appealed to their "desire". Notice the plan of God in the creation narrative: 1. He created the non-living, like the planets (universe), then, 2. He created the living, like the plants and animals and different species within their "own kind" (principle of Genetics established); the plant kingdom and animal kingdom. Much like darkness (non-living), the Word/Creator then said, "let there be light". Darkness then light, non-living then life. After creating living plants and animals, the Word/Creator said, let us make man in "our image", i.e. in the image of the Creator Elohim/YHVH, "like us", not in the image of angels nor the "animal kingdom". Notice that YHVH was not creating spirit-beings, like angels. They were already created way before any other living creation. Nor was he creating a "human kingdom" or another animal kingdom. History shows that all "human kingdoms" failed from 1st Adam, Tower of Babel, Babylonian and its succession of kingdoms, Israel under Saul, etc. Even towards the "ten toes" (Daniel 2:19-45). His plan was for man to be like him (Elohim), a new creation, a "kingdom of God", not a human kingdom, much different and above angelic beings or "angelic species". This is the "gospel of the kingdom of God". In retrospect, the Serpent wanted Adam & Eve to die as he wanted the man Jesus also to die, not knowing that by Jesus dying, death has no longer a "hold on him" and by extension on us, as in, "death where is thy sting"(I Cor. 15:55-56). He lied, being the father of liars (John 8:44), tempted Adam & Eve that they would not "surely die" (Gen 3:4-5) and raised up the ante that they will be "like Elohim knowing good and evil" by eating the forbidden fruit. The temptation by the Serpent (without him realizing it) actually, was acting out and aligned with the plan of YHVH, although violating the strategy for achieving this goal. Remember, Satan is an Adversary, very astute, cunning and manipulative but nonetheless wrong and opposite to God's strategic plan. Satan did not fully understand the depth and breadth of God's plan. True, "little knowledge is dangerous". In summary, the timetable for humans to be "like him" required the incarnation of YHVH to the man-Jesus who came "from above", a "temple not made by hands". This was not "of works" of Adam or any man; it is a gift of God by grace, an expression of love. Adam was indeed forbidden to do this on his own as he was a man "from the ground"(Gen. 2:7), not "from above" as Jesus was. This man-Jesus was initially created below angelic beings (Heb 2:1-10; Ps 8:3-9;) but subsequently became higher than them when "declared to be Son of God by the resurrection from the dead" (Rom. 1:4). The strategy is for Jesus to die for the sin of mankind, as Passover substitute for mankind to reconcile us to God, be resurrected to life, as in "we shall be saved by his life"(Rom. 5:10), so that the Spirit could be sent to dwell in us for our development into His body, to be "one" as in, "we shall be like him"(I John 3:2), our Elder Brother in this family of God. After he realized being "Son of God", he will then " bring many sons to glory" (Heb 2:10). The kingdom of God is more than a government of God, more than a place. It is in fact more than a plant kingdom, an animal kingdom, and angelic species. Great destiny and gift for mankind to be in the class of "Elohim" with Jesus and the Father. Let us therefore thank our Elder Brother Jesus and our God the Father.
The meaning of the tree of life is that the tree provided fruit having the power of giving eternal life to anybody who eats it (Genesis: 3: 22). Historically, man was free to eat the fruit of the tree of life in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2: 16-17), but since the man disobeyed what God had commanded him, he was banished from the Garden of Eden. For the believers and followers of Jesus Christ, Jesus is the Tree of Life (John 4: 13-14; 11: 25; 14: 6-7) and we are free to eat its fruit (John 3: 14-21).
According to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) the tree of life is mentioned in four areas in the Bible. The expression "tree of life" occurs in four groups or connections: (1) in the story of the Garden of Eden, (2) in the Proverbs of the Wise Men, (3) in the apocryphal writings, and (4) in the Apocalypse of John. Gen 2:9; 3:22 both mention the tree of life. There have been many interpretations as to the meaning and idea behind this tree. Some have argued that it is just a symbol that was to remind Adam and Eve of their obligation to obedience to God as the source of their true instruction for life. Others have considered it as just a myth and the story is not real but more like a parable. The latter interpretation is farfetched because New Testament teaching gives an explicit recognition of the creation story and hence we should accept the historical truth of the characters of the creation story and the first family. Matthew Henry Commentary on Gen 2:9 holds that the tree and the four rivers were an illustration of an earthy paradise but which could not compare with the heavenly one whose waters God himself sustains. The ISBE argues that following the sinful attempt to gain immortality through sin and disobedience, God had to drive the sinners (Adam and Eve) out of his presence and the opportunity for immortality was lost until the coming of Christ. It adds that it was through other means and not that conceived by sinful man but by a holy God that redemption would come. Some Bible scholars prefer to view the story of the tree of life as a pictorial representation of spiritual truth in the same way that John employs the pictorial scenes of heaven in conveying truths. We can therefore infer that thethe tree of life is a picture of the glorious possibilities which lay before man, and which might have been realized by him had not his sin and sinful condition prevented it. God's intervention was a great mercy to the human race. It would be reckless to consider the story as a myth because the New Testament cites this story in a factual sense. The reality of Adam as the fallen person paved way for Christ, the new Adam to bring immortality back to humanity through his atoning death. There cannot be a second Adam (Christ) without the first true human Adam. This tree must have been a reality that was available to a real creature of God and not just an abstract imagination or a parable. We cannot explain more than Scripture reveals or make wild speculations that cannot be proved in the Bible but we can interpret spiritual truths from its teaching. First we must accept the Word of God by faith as his unchangeable revealed truth and with this reality then handle it with the reverence that it deserves. The tree was therefore real and marked as a symbol of human choices open to the perfect man, Those who argue that the tree represented sexual intimacy are making misleading conclusions not supported by Scripture because earlier God had commanded the two to multiply and fill the earth (Gen 1:28). How was the procreation possible if not through sexual means? The tree of life reminds us of the fallibility of Adam and the perfect Person of Jesus Christ as the new Adam. It also reminds us of the consequences of sin and the penalty demanded by a just God which has now been atoned by Christ.
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