Thursday, May 26, 2011

Life as it was Meant to Be: The Significance of the Tree of Life

As per my last post, we catch two glimpses of life as God meant it to be in the Bible. One is the garden of Eden before the fall (Genesis 2:4-25) . The second is the New Heaven and New Earth found in Revelation 22. It is also interesting to note that these are also the only two places in the Bible that we find the Tree of Life.

God created everything and then planted a garden in the east. He put man there to enjoy and for Him to enjoy. He gave man responsibility to work the garden and take care of it. He made all kinds of trees pleasing to the eye and giving food to man. He also placed two specific trees: the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Man was free to eat of any fruit of any tree except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and was told that if he were to eat of it, he would surely die.

Enter the serpent. See the woman disobey. See the man disobey alongside of her and also fail to protect the woman. See God punish the serpent (Satan), man and woman. The ground is cursed because of man and now he must be tied to it forever to produce food by the sweat of his brow with the ultimate end of returning back to dust. Woman has her pains in childbearing greatly increased and is placed under the rule of her husband.

Then, as God drives them out of the garden forever (at least in this life), He places a cherubim and flaming sword to guard the way back to the garden and more importantly the tree of life.

I propose that the "tree of life" is to be taken as a symbol of what God meant our lives to be. Perfect. In the garden. No death, no tears, no pain, no sickness. Most of all, we were created to be in perfect fellowship with Him, walking with him in the cool of the day, sharing our intimate secrets.

The reason I say that the tree of life symbolizes all of this is for the simple fact that we do not see the tree of life again until the end of time. And that tree of life is rediscovered by man in the coming of the New Heaven and the New Earth. John the Revelator is shown by the angel the river of the water of life as clear as crystal flowing from the throne of God. It is coming down the middle of the great street of God. And on each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing fruit and whose leaves are for the healing of the nations.

Notice what Revelation 22:3 says now that the New Heaven and New Earth are a reality and that the tree of life is back within grasp: "No longer will there be any curse." (Rev 22:3). God is now back with His people to be reunited. Life for man is now restored to life as God always meant it to be. Man will see God's face once again and there will be no more night. We will be His people and God Himself will be with us. He will wipe every tear from our eyes and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain for the old order of things will have passed away. The curse is broken!

I recently heard a pastor say that the bad news always precedes the good news of the gospel. The bad news is this: you and I are under a curse. It came when sin entered into this world by the choice of our forefather Adam and foremother Eve. The good news is that there is a way back to the life, the paradise if you will, that was lost. That way is through the cross and the blood of Jesus.

I don't know about you, but I look forward to one day seeing God face to face and tasting of the tree of life so graciously provided for us.

That will be life as it was meant to be!

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