The tree of life and the fall of man
After creating man, God planted a beautiful garden and gave it to him together with the responsibility to care for it. In the garden there were all sorts of trees good for food. The tree of life stood in the center of the garden alongside a river. God put this tree before the man that he created so that he could feed from it and daily receive the life of God.
What was man’s greatest need at that time? Was it a job to get money for his livelihood? No, God provided all that he needed. Did God give him instructions on how to do good and be a good man? No, the only instruction that God gave man when he put him in the garden was for him to cultivate and care for it, and bade him eat of every tree that grew there, except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We see then, that God created man to serve Him, to cultivate and guard the garden, and for that to happen God needed to be his life.
In all of the Bible’s descriptions of the Garden of Eden, the crucial point is that the tree of life was at its center. This tree symbolizes God as the life of man. The Garden of Eden was not only pleasant and beautiful, but it was where man could be filled with God’s life in order to please Him by fulfilling His eternal purpose.
Man was created in the image and likeness of God. However, he still had not received God as life, as his contents. Without the life of God, man is totally incapable and unqualified to express Him and represent Him. For example, a light bulb has everything needed to shine, but without electricity, it will never fulfill its function. The man is a “lamp” to express God’s divine light. For this, the “electricity” of the divine life of God, must flow into him.
In Genesis chapter 2:8-10 after having created man, God did not tell him to do anything in order to express Him. Instead, God put man before the tree of life so that he could take Him as life by eating its fruit. The New Testament shows us that the tree of life is God incarnate in Christ. John 1:4 says, “The life was in him.” In John 14:6, the Lord Jesus said that He is “the Way, the Truth and the Life.” In John 10:10 He said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” The Lord Jesus told us in John 6:57 to eat him, and in John 15, He is the true vine and we the branches. All these verses show that Jesus Christ is the life of man, as portrayed by the tree of life. This is so wonderful when we understand it!
The scriptures speak of a river flowing next to the tree of life. Revelation 22:1 speaks of a “river of the water of life.” This river appears several times throughout the Bible. It represents the Spirit of God that fills us with life and quenches our thirst. In John 7:37 the Lord Jesus said: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.“ Sometimes you get the feeling that nothing else can satisfy you. Nevertheless, “the last day, that great day of the feast,” Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” Today the Lord continues to offer himself as a drink that satisfies us when we drink His life into ourselves. We need to go to Him and drink!
The fall of man
There were two spiritual trees in the Garden; the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:9). When the man ate of the latter, he fell and completely ruined his chances to fulfill the purpose of God for his life. We must now understand the meaning of these two trees.
The two trees represent two principles in man’s relationship to God. The principle of the tree of life is that of dependence on God. To have God as his life makes man dependent on him. The principle of the tree of knowledge is that of independence. When we do not take God as our life, but choose to live according to our own knowledge instead, we do not live in dependence on him.
The tree of life symbolizes the life of God or God as the life of man, while the tree of knowledge symbolizes Satan as the source of death. God told the man that the day they ate of the tree of knowledge they would surely die. This shows that, in fact, it is the tree of death. When man eats it, he receives the nature of sin within himself.
The Bible shows that Satan was originally Lucifer, the archangel of God. Lucifer means “morning star”. At the time, he was the most beautiful and wise among all the creatures of God. For this reason, he aspired to be like God and like the Most High (Isaiah 14:13-14). Therefore, he rebelled, and became the enemy of God, always seeking to exalt himself and frustrate God’s purposes.
Before the man could receive God as life, Satan deceived Eve who ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge and then gave some to her husband, Adam, who also ate it. Thus, Satan was able to inject into man his evil nature of sin, which now dwells in every man (Romans 7:17-20). This became the greatest tragedy of the universe. The man who God created to contain Him and express Him, now, after the fall, expresses the sin nature of Satan.
The fall produced a series of problems. The first problem is that man transgressed the righteousness of God by disobeying his commandment not to eat of the tree of knowledge. As a result, man came under the judgment of God, lost his right to the tree of life, and ended up dying.
The second problem is that man now has a sinful nature within himself. This constitutes him as a sinner. As a result, he cannot do the good that he prefers, but ends up doing the evil which he does not want to do. Paul said. “O wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death” (Romans 7:19, 24). This is the great tragedy of history! We still see its effect on man today. Even for such a lost cause God prepared a wonderful salvation for man.