The Tree of Life

Richard Thetford

The history of creation takes place in the first 38 verses of the Bible. Then in Genesis 2:8-9 we read: “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 was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Then in verses 16-17 we read: “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” God’s law to man was very plain and simple. He had allowed Adam to have free reign of the beautiful garden that He had created and he could eat of every tree except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We read in verse 9 where God had also placed the “tree of life” in the midst of the garden. The rest of chapter two tells of how woman was made and that “....they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed” (Gen 2:25). At this point in time Adam and Eve had the innocense of little children. Sin had not yet been born and they were pleasing in God’s sight.

The Birth of Sin and the Fall of Man

Chapter three tells the story of how Eve was tempted by the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life (3:6; 1 Jn 2:16) and she gave in and ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God had created Adam first and was told that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was off limits. It was Adam’s responsibility to tell his wife, which he obviously did (Gen 3:3), and it was the woman’s responsibility to be in subjection to her husband and obey him which she did not (Gen 3:6; 1 Tim 2:11-14). As a result, sin was born into the world.

Denied the Tree of Life

God placed the Tree of Life in the midst of the garden for Adam and Eve to partake of, which they were free to do while being obedient to God. But immediately after Adam and Eve had sinned, God denied them the Tree of Life. Adam and Eve were driven from the garden so that they would not be able to partake of the Tree of Life. Genesis 3:22-24 says: “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.” After they had sinned, they no longer had the right to partake of the Tree of Life. This tree is reserved for only those that obey the Lord. This same tree is mentioned in Revelation 22:14 as the tree that is reserved for the righteous. “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.”

The Right to the Tree of Life

Access to the Tree of Life is a right that is given ONLY to those who DO Jesus’ commandments. To gain a better understanding of this “right” to the Tree of Life, we can relate it to the word “respect.” Respect is something that can’t be bought or given to someone, but has to be “EARNED.” It is earned through one’s day to day living in life, gained by consistent day in and day out trustworthiness. For us to have the “right” to the Tree of Life requires that we earn that right. The only way that we can earn the right to the Tree of Life is to live our lives in accordance with God’s directives. Paul wrote: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom 12:1-2). When we live our lives FOR God everyday, then we gain the right to the Tree of Life. It is sad that many people, even those within the church think that they will be able to partake of the Tree of Life without living their lives in such a way as to be pleasing to God. These people do not have God’s respect, much less the “right” to the Tree of Life. For us to gain access to the Tree of Life when our life is over, then we MUST recognize what is “good and evil” (Isa 5:20) in God’s sight, and then be determined to practice only that which is acceptable to God. We can’t hide from God no more than Adam and Eve tried to (Gen 3:8) and so we better make sure that we examine ourselves daily to “prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom 12:2).