TWO TREES IN THE GARDEN
“Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding; for her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, and her gain than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies, and all the things you may desire cannot compare with her. Length of days is in her right hand, in her left hand riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who retain her.” Proverbs 3:13-18
There is a type of wisdom and understanding so precious that no earthly form of wealth can compare. In their Godly form they are a tree of life. The tree of life is another beautiful thought of God that winds its way through the entire Bible. This thought too has its roots firmly planted in Genesis.
The highlight of God’s effort in Genesis took place on His last work day of the week, the sixth day. “‘Let Us make man in Our image…’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” The word “our” denotes pluralism, and the word “God” here is Elohim, a uniplural noun. This is because God the Father and Jesus Christ, the Word as in John 1:1-3, were working together, the Father issuing the commands and the Son creating. Continuing in Genesis 2:4-7, “This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, before any plant of the field was in the earth and before any herb of the field had grown. For the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground; but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole ground. And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Let’s ask ourselves one question here. Did God need to till the ground in order for plants to grow? Of course not! The plants of the earth had already been thriving for a long time. God wanted the earth to produce something more, something very special. He wanted living beings in His own image and likeness. Digest No. 5 will delve into the very special tilling and planting of this crop.
As God’s fingers scraped together the dust of the earth into the form of Adam, the excitement in the universe must have been palpable. Never had such a thing been done in all the eons the universe had existed. The climax of billions of years of planning and effort had been reached. As His hands worked with the soil, His mind must have been racing. The awesome mind and intellect of Elohim knew that from this point forward there would be no turning back. Their word could not be broken, and failure was not an option. They were about to give life to a human being and all mankind to follow. The most awesome project ever imagined with all the attendant joys and sorrow would now roll forward. We can only imagine as the Word God and the Father looked at one another knowingly and the Father nodded to go ahead. What a moment it must have been when the Word, by whom all things were created, bent over a pile of dirt and breathed into Adam’s nostrils and the chest began to rise and fall, the heart pump and the eyes open! No wonder God had to rest on the seventh day! And no wonder They proclaimed that day of the week holy forever as They contemplated what They had just done. For us to comprehend what happened next is crucial for us to gain wisdom and understanding.
After a little rest God carefully placed Adam in the Garden of Eden. Genesis 2:8-9 “The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life is also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Remember, happy is the man who finds wisdom and understanding, for she is a tree of life. It is now time to dig a little deeper into the beautiful thoughts of God regarding these two trees!
You see, God needed a garden where He could grow fruit of everlasting value – fruit in His image and likeness and able to be called children of God. John 1:12 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believed in His name.” Romans 8:14 “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.” This garden would need Adam to cultivate it as we read in verse 5 and is reiterated in verse 15 of Genesis 2. “Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.” This garden would grow beings with character like His, full of love, mercy, compassion and out-going concern.
In this beautiful garden there were two very significant trees, the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We need to examine what God’s word reveals regarding these two trees. But first let’s define Garden of Eden in the terms originally written.
GARDEN = number 1588 a garden (as fenced), from number 1598 to hedge about and protect.
EDEN = number 5731 the region of Adam’s home, same as number 5730 pleasure, from 5729 and 5727 pleasure, to live voluptuously. See also number 1040 which is also Beth Eden meaning a house of pleasure, family, and is related to number 1129 to build, to obtain a family.
Therefore, God’s beautiful thinking in crafting the Garden of Eden was to provide mankind a safe place to live and flourish in very pleasurable surroundings, a peaceful place to learn God’s way of life and develop Godly character. This secure environment was conducive to His purpose of building a family in His image and likeness, that is to say with His type of perfect character. Everything for spiritual and physical good health was within the Garden. There was only one dangerous plant in the garden of which Adam and Eve were made fully aware. See this in verse 16 and 17. “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’” This tree represented an opposing way of life, a life based on selfishness, greed, lust and intense competition. The fruit of this way would be a world of pain, suffering, death and abominable ignorance. Adam and Eve were given the incomparable gift of free will. It would be their choice to obey or not, and that choice would speak for all to follow them! Every parent wants their children to love, honor and obey them willingly, and God is no different. He was not about to create robots who had no choice but to “love” Him in some mechanical way. They were free to choose the way of life they would follow.
With the creation of Adam and the Garden of Eden, God now had a place on the earth that could be fruitful for Him, not a wilderness that was “without form and void” covered by “darkness” and the “deep.” There was light and truth in the garden represented by the tree of life. Eden was a very special place on all the earth because even though the bad tree was also there, Satan himself was handicapped. You see, his influence was bound unless Adam chose to allow it! As long as Adam fed on the good ways of God, he was perfectly okay and growing and developing as he should. As long as he did not imbibe of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he was impervious to Satan’s influence. The “god of this world”, the “prince of the power of the air” had no control or influence. Satan had something to fear in Adam. God was preparing Adam to replace Satan as ruler and caretaker of the earth. When Adam ultimately failed, it became necessary for God to send a second Adam, Jesus Christ. I Corinthians 15:45-49 “And so it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.”
The potential success of the first Adam was indeed very great, but so was his potential failure. He had a lot going for him because of the Garden of Eden! He could eat of the tree of life and bear fruit of the God kind: love, mercy, peace and life in joy, all this without Satan pulling him ever downward. The tree of life was his teacher and the fruit his lessons, which when eaten, that is to say learned and digested, would form fruit in Adam. On the contrary, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil looked good to eat but was a tree of poisonous fruit that would kill. For Adam it was a dry dead tree giving no nourishment, only harm. Satan’s problem is that he had no way to force Adam to eat of his way of life, his fruit, because he had no power within the garden.
The following scriptures will show that Christ is the Teacher represented by the tree of life. He is the tree, and His Spirit the power that gives and imparts its fruit.
Revelation 2:7 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”
Luke 23:31 KJV “For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?” Christ was referring to Himself just before the crucifixion.
John 3:1-2 tells us Christ was a teacher. “There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.’”
Therefore Christ is the tree of life, and His fruit is His teachings, His imparted thoughts delivered by His Spirit. This is spiritual food. Christ summed it up in John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Adam could learn of Christ all he wanted without sin ever pulling him down, “for the wages of sin is death.” Unfortunately Adam used his free will to turn his back on God and learn another way of life. As we read of his fall, you will notice that his eyes were “opened”. They were opened all right, but to evil, competition, envy and strife. He became cursed with knowledge he wished he never had. This cursed knowledge led God to have to curse Adam and his offspring to 6,000 years under the oppressor who pumps out all the evil attitudes.
The story is in Genesis 3:1-7. “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And He said to the woman, ‘Has God indeed said, “You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?’” And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, “You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.”’ Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.”
Satan was victorious that day. Adam had been defeated and was now open to his influence. Satan had gotten his darkness to infiltrate the light in the Garden of Eden, and the earth was once again wilderness. God had no choice but to cast Adam out of the garden and cut him off from the tree of life, where he would have been able to live forever as a sinful being never having to repent and undoubtedly waxing worse and worse, just as his new mentor, teacher and ruler, Satan, had done. Genesis 3:22-24 records this sad episode in human history. “Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever’ – therefore the Lord God sent him out of the Garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the Garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.” Man became a tiller of physical ground, for a meager physical existence destined to learn the hard way that sin and rebellion do not pay, that Satan is an evil oppressor and liar. Mankind is now constantly bombarded with Satan’s thoughts, attitudes and influences. This produces the fruit of Satan’s chosen lifestyle in mankind with all the attendant misery, wretchedness and pain ending in death as God said. We now dwell in the midst of the sea of Satan’s thoughts, and though the vast majority of mankind tries to resist, we are all frequently overcome.
Unfortunately, there are some people who seem not to resist at all. They follow the influence of the dead tree, and they seem capable of any evil. This includes unleashing the unthinkable on the rest of mankind. What a hopeless mess mankind finds himself in until we remember God’s plan is older than time itself. God cannot be outwitted or defeated.
Within the pages of the Bible God shares His plan of redemption with us in some very unusual and mysterious ways. By utilizing God’s thoughts in the scriptures and how they tie in with creation, we can gain hope and assurance that the Master Mind of the universe has taken into account every eventuality. One of the ways we can see this hope is pictured by God’s use of trees in the Bible.
Jesus Christ as Teacher and Creator is the Tree of Life, but those people down through the ages used by Him to convey His thoughts He also pictures as trees. By their recorded words and deeds we can learn how to bear good fruit in the midst of the trials of life. The following scriptures will clearly bear this out and also demonstrate that Satan has false teachers who follow the influences of his tree.
Psalm 1:1 and 3: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly… He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season…”
Proverbs. 11:30 “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise”
Proverbs 15:4 “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.”
Psalm 52:8 King David, a prophet and a teacher, said of himself, “But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever.”
Matt 7:17 and 20: Christ states after warning about false teachers “Even so every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit… by their fruits you will know them.”
It takes some spiritual vision to comprehend God’s concept that men can be a type of tree for other men to learn from, but this is exactly what God did through the ages with His prophets and apostles. God sent us His wisdom via their recorded words which were in actual fact His inspired thoughts. We are all blind to these thoughts without God’s help to see them. Christ performed a miracle with some hidden meaning in it in Mark 8:22. “Then He came to Bethsaida: and they brought a blind man to Him, and begged Him to touch him. So He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town. And when He had spit on his eyes and put His hands on him, He asked him if he saw anything. And he looked up and said, ‘I see men like trees, walking.’ Then He put His hands on his eyes again and made him look up. And he was restored and saw everyone clearly.” This amazing miracle shows both physical and spiritual vision in action. God is willing to help us with spiritual vision so that we can gain the wisdom and understanding that is priceless. Then we will be fruitful for God and able to overcome the influence and oppression of the tree that leads to death.
In conclusion, the two trees represent two opposing ways of life and their originators. Mankind has been living under the influence of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, cut off from the tree of life. This explains the downward pulls we all endure. It is so hard to always be good, honest and upright. It seems impossible to always love our fellow man. Our civilization and cultures have been built on a dead tree. That is why we are incapable of delivering ourselves from the sins and attitudes that enslave us. The good within us rises over and over from the ashes of war, hate and prejudice to produce fruit from our God-given talents: fine art, beautiful music, philanthropy and good will. But for 6,000 years man’s best efforts have been undone as one civilization after another collapsed. Poverty, hate and tyranny always find new ways to rear their ugly heads.
The good news is that the 6,000 years is almost finished. God will soon deliver this earth from the bondage of Satan’s sea of darkness in a remarkable way, and you can play a part!
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Great Lakes Church of God
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
The source for the Hebrew and Greek words in this book and their meanings is The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, by James Strong, Copyright © 1995 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
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