Bible Study Series: Genesis and Revelation - The Beginning and the End
The Tree of Life Bible Study & Humanity's eternal choice
by I Gordon
- The tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the book of Genesis - and what they represent
- The ongoing choice that everyone has to partake of two trees today
- A quick look at the third tree that makes eating from the tree of life possible
- The future choice shown in the book of Revelation for unbelievers
- The future benefit to believers from the tree of life, as shown in Revelation
So it states that there were lots of trees in the garden of Eden. They were pleasant to behold and great for food. If Adam was anything like me then I'm sure he would have spent a lot of time gorging himself on the lovely fruit and nuts! But two special trees are singled out. These two were different. One was called 'life'. The other, as God told Adam, would bring 'death'. So placed right there in the middle of the garden was essentially a choice for Adam and Eve. A choice between life and death. God placed them right in the middle of the garden to focus their attention on the biggest decision they had to make. And God was very clear with Adam right from the start, spelling out the rules and the consequences for disobedience. 'You may eat from any tree in the garden, but NOT from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat from that tree, in the same day, you will DIE.' Ok... Gulp. Clear on that. There is a lot riding on this decision. Don't eat from the wrong tree... don't make the wrong choice!
The Tree of life was so important that God had to send a cherubim (the highest order in the angelic realm) and a flaming sword to make sure no one could partake of that tree. Why is that you ask? Well, because that tree supplied everlasting life! Had Adam and Eve eaten of it AFTER their fall they would not have died physically. They would have carried on in a fallen desperate state... forever. That is how important this tree is. That is why God had to guard it.
|Aspect||Tree of Life||Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil|
|Starts with||Dependence upon God||Independence from God|
|Leads to||God in control, essential to life||Man in control, mankind calling the shots|
|Draws on||Spirit's resources and life||Human strength and resources|
|Guided by||God's wisdom||Man's wisdom and decisions (a.k.a 'folly')|
|Results in||Life, fellowship, fruit of the Spirit||Death! Disharmony, fruit of the flesh|
Deu 30:19-20 This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live (20) and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life...'
The tree of life is ultimately Jesus Himself. It is the life of God. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil is following Satan and his deceptions2. This takes many forms through various religions and systems of belief but they are all ultimately from the evil one getting mankind to chose 'another way'. They may see it as 'an enlightened way' but it still follows Satan in his rebellion against God's position and rule. Here is one example:
Now at the time she had no idea what that was, but one thing she did know was that it wasn't good! So she went to her neighbour and said she couldn't go anymore because Scientology 'was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil'. You now had two people who had no idea what that meant! But at least one knew that it wasn't good! The neighbour kept on going but Mum never went again. This simply illustrates how mankind still seeks after hidden knowledge, in opposition to God's ways, to try to 'be like god'. It was the initial temptation that the enemy used to lure Eve astray and it is has carried on right down through the ages. People are still choosing the tree of the knowledge of good and evil instead of life!
- The first tree in the Garden, which Adam and Eve SHOULD have eaten from, but didn't, would have brought everlasting life. This is the tree of life.
- The second tree in the Garden, which Adam and Eve SHOULDN'T have eaten from, but did, brought spiritual and eventual physical death. This is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
- The third tree in scripture was one upon a hill. What was this tree? It was the tree (normally known as the Cross) upon Golgotha hill. This tree took Him who was life, down into death so that life could come once again, condemned to die.
Gal 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree."
He does not come to give strength to your flesh – He comes to become your life. When you are eating from the tree of divine life in the Sabbath-rest of God, you will taste of the firstfruits of Christ’s eternal life. The Lord you are seeking comes in the power of His resurrection life. (Mal. 3: 1-3, Heb. 7: 16) He says, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14: 6) He is the only one who has a victorious life. Therefore, we must enter into the Sabbath-rest of God and permit Him to take control of every aspect of our life.
Major Ian Thomas
But fear not all you WWJD bracelets owners! You might not have to throw them away just yet... Just change one 'W' and you'll start to get back on track. Instead of asking 'What WOULD Jesus do?' as if He is dead, ask 'What WILL Jesus do?' - Because He is alive! Bring Him into the situation and you will be relying on the tree of life again!
The future choice shown in the book of Revelation for unbelievers
Rev 14:6-10 Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth--to every nation, tribe, language and people. (7) He said in a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water." ...(9) A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, (10) he, too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb.
So again, there are the choices. One angels flies in the heavens declaring the gospel, telling all to worship and fear God. Another angel declares in a loud voice that if worshiping the beast and receiving his mark will bring the fury and wrath of God. Choose mankind, for there is no sitting on the fence any longer. As Bob Dylan once sang:
But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes Indeed you're gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord, But you're gonna have to serve somebody
Rev 2:7 ...To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
This tree, and this paradise, is pictured again in the last chapter of Revelation where we read:
Rev 22:1-2 Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, (2) in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
There are two immediate things here about the tree of life that stand out - especially for all the gardeners out there!
- Firstly the tree of life has twelve types of fruit. For the gardeners, that is amazing as everyone knows that a tree can only bring forth it's corresponding fruit. An apple tree can't produce lemons. An orange tree can't produce plums. Well, the tree of life can! Oh the variety of God.
- Secondly, it doesn't require a break but bears fruit every month of the year. Anyone with fruit trees know they produce in a certain season of the year (and it might only be for a few weeks) and then there is a long period of seeming inactivity where they get all that they need to be able to produce again, at the same time next year. The tree of life isn't like that. It doesn't get tired. It doesn't need a break. It keeps producing. How is that possible?
It is possible for the tree of life to never tire and perpetually produce because it is rooted in the river of the water of life that comes from the throne of God. That accounts for it's perpetual fruitfulness. That accounts for it having life to give in every season. That accounts for the fact that it brings perpetual health and well-being to those that feed on it. It reminds us that God does not get tired. He is an eternal source of life and well being. It also reminds us that we too, as believers, will have fruit to give in all seasons, when our roots are drawing from the water of life.
Isa 40:28-31 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. (29) He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. (30) Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; (31) but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
So as it was for Adam and Eve, so it is for all humanity. Everyone has to make a choice. God's way, through His life, or our way. The tree of life or the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Everyone must choose. The coming day will see all choices narrowed down to these two as seen in the book of revelation. And why would you not choose God? Sadly many won't. If you are a believer then share what you know. Tell those that don't know where you found true life.
And, amongst these strange days, be encouraged for a better day is coming. The tree of life as shown in the book of Genesis and Revelation, a type of the life that is in the Lord Jesus, speaks of far more than just length of life. It is eternal, yes... but so much more. It speaks of the quality and type of life. It speaks of His life and all that He, Jesus, is and will be for us. That is what we are to feed on in this life and also in the soon coming day when we are with Him.
The tree of the knowledge of good and evil is never mentioned again in scripture. But the tree of life is. Here is a full list of references to the tree of life and it's connection to Jesus as the life can be seen (taken from The Ultimate Cross Reference Treasury):
Gen 3:22, Pro 3:18, Pro 11:30, Eze 47:12, Joh 6:48, Joh 6:51, Joh 6:53, Rev 2:7, Rev 22:2, Rev 22:14 ↩
The tree of the knowledge of good and evil can push people in both directions - good and evil. Yet neither is life! What do I mean by that? Humanity is fallen and we see the results of that. Evil is easy to spot. We see it every day on the news. But humanity, on the whole, also thinks it is good and that trying to be good will be good enough with God! Many think that their good works will see them enter Heaven for example. But the Bible correctly shows us the extent of the fall. Unbelievers are 'dead in sin' (Eph 2:1) and a dead man needs far more than his own feeble efforts to be good. A dead man needs life! That is what Jesus came to give. The very thing we need. Even as believers we can fall into the trap of just trying to live good lives on our own and not see our ongoing need of life - His life! ↩